Especially for Directors

We've selected content from the Christian Education pages that is of special interest to Church School Directors.

Report on the Meeting of the Christian Education Department, June 3-4, 2014, Chicago

by Catherine Sullivan, Departmental Associate

A few days before the special convention in Chicago to nominate three candidates for the position of Metropolitan, the staff of the Department of Christian Education met with Director Mrs. Carole Buleza in the same venue. Fortunately, most of the Department coming from British Columbia to the north, and South Carolina to the south, was able to attend in order to work together on recommendations for educational materials and programs for middle and high school students.

Graduation Day (Robert J. Snyder)

Graduation Day- we look forward to it with great anticipation. It’s a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. This rite of passage maybe true for Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Most great teachers will tell you that the schooling received prior to graduation is only a preparation for “learning to learn” and a lifetime of learning. And so it must be with Christian education.

A Lamp to My Feet: An Introduction to the Bible

A Lamp to My Feet

With this zine, students develop the attitudes and confidence needed to light their path with the lamp of Scripture. They can then access God’s message to the world by asking how each reading relates to them: “What does this text say about Christ, and how does it apply to my life?”

The zine explores general motivations for and goals of Bible study. It then suggests study habits and methods, and explains various formats and translations of the Bible. The zine introduces the Old and New Testaments, the kinds of books they contain, and how the books came to be there.

Featured Resources for Holy Week and Pascha

1: Journey through Holy Week

Follow Christ and the Church through each stage of Holy Week—from the Saturday of Lazarus to the Agape Vespers service—with this new full-color guide from the Department of Religious Education. In the zine-style booklet, author Stephania Gianulis pinpoints the relevance and meanings of the services, hymns, and scripture readings. Special features on each page illuminate icons, traditions, and history.

Church School Directors and Pastors: Complete Your Online Christian Education Survey

Dear Pastors and Church School Directors,

Ten years ago we surveyed our Church Schools to learn their needs, and the numbers of students and teachers we serve. Once again we are asking for a few minutes of your time so that we may determine the usefulness of the programs we offer, your needs, and the numbers we serve. We need only one survey per parish, preferably completed by the Church School Director, but in his or her absence, by the parish priest.

Click here to take the survey now!

The survey results will be made known through our website, and also in our newsletters in The Word. I would like to call your attention to our newest endeavor, namely, a listserv, so that we can offer news updates via email. Thank you, as always, for your efforts in the Orthodox Christian Education of our children.

Your servant in Christ,
Carole A. Buleza, Director, Department of Christian Education

Church School Passports?

By Carole A. Buleza, Director, Department of Christian Education

A few weeks ago I taught our parish high school students. When in the course of our discussion I asked what happens when we die, according to our faith, they were silent. I was puzzled.

My puzzlement was due to the fact that these students had all been taught in 8th grade from the textbook, The Way, The Truth, and The Life, which contains the basic tenets, prayers, and practices of our faith. During the course, the students take four exams, covering 100 questions, which are called educational standards. These were determined by the members of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission. They had all passed the course. So, why were they vague on my question, which is one of the standards?

Department of Marriage and Parish Family Ministries Announces Two New Brochures

In conjunction with Conciliar Press, the Antiochian Department of Marriage and Parish Family MInistries has released two much-requested brochures for Orthodox Christians. "Crowned with Glory and Honor," a free, downloadable brochure, presents readers with a set of helpful guidelines for Orthodox marriage preparation, including such concepts as the meaning of crowning, and the purpose of the Betrothal Service. Readers will even learn about the wedding almonds: "The white coating symbolizes purity; the egg shape represents fertility and new life that begins in marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage, and the sweetness of the sugar encourages the hope of the sweetness of future life together. Giving of three almonds signifies the union is indivisible, just as the bride and groom will remain undivided in their union with each other and with Christ."

The second brochure, "A Guide to Parish Etiquette," lists everything parishioners need to know about respectful and reverent behavior while in liturgy. Department Director Khouria Maggie Hock encourages all parishes, couples and families to make use of these valuable, free resources.

Church School Directors Manual

The Department of Christian Education is pleased to release the updated 2011 version of The Church School Directors Manual, available for download.

The manual contains important topics such as the Role of the Church School Director; A Year in the Life of the Church School Director; Recruiting, Preparing and Retaining Staff; and Parental Issues, plus helpful handouts.

Curriculum from Orthodox Christian Education Commission

The Antiochian Department of Christian Education partners with the Orthodox Christian Education Commission to prepare curriculum materials for all ages. Preview the materials below, and then order from the Antiochian Archdiocese Bookstore (the best price for many items) or  from OCEC's online catalog

Knowing Your Faith: Educational Standards for OCEC Curriculum

"Knowing Your Faith" is presented as a series of PDF files, from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Each grade includes content for parents, teachers, and students.

Learning Opportunities for Middle and High School

We've put together a comprehensive guide of many curriculum options for those who work with teens.

Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div., the Director of Religious Education for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, has compiled an exhaustive resource list for both church school and home use at

  • Sources of books, icons, tapes, magazines
  • Home Schooling Resources
  • Websites at Your Fingertips
  • Church School Director Resources
  • Church School Teacher's Notebook
  • Great Lessons Need These….!
  • Jr. & Sr. High Resources
  • Parents & Families Resources
  • Pre-School Resources
  • Small Church School Resources 

For To Us A Child Is Born

Unwrap the story of Christ’s birth to reveal the fullness of the Incarnation behind the “Christmas story” of pageants. This full-color zine from the Greek Department of Religious Education begins with the Annunciation and then follows the seasonal calendar through the Nativity, Theophany and the Presentation of the Lord. The text unpacks the meaning of the Incarnation through icons, scripture readings and hymns for each feast.

Special features on each page illuminate traditions (such as the Vasilopita and home blessings) and lives of saints involved in the celebration.

Suitable for ages 12 and up—for use in the classroom, during retreats or at home.

Charitable Giving on St. Nicholas Day

On Sunday, December 6, 2009, St. Nicholas Day celebrations at St. John Chrysostom Church in York, Pennsylvania were featured in the York Daily Record. The article highlights the local tradition of the parish's children commemorating the feast day through charitable giving: a local church, children swapped roles with the beloved saint Sunday, presenting him with gifts instead -- gifts that will ultimately be distributed to needy families by Access-York and the Victim Assistance Center.

"I can see you've been teaching the children to love others by giving to the poor," St. Nicholas told the Rev. Peter Pier, pastor of St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church in Springettsbury Township...

A member of St. John Chrysostom church suggested the idea of children giving gifts to St. Nicholas years ago.

"It is definitely a good message to the children because they so often hear Christmas is about getting, getting getting," said parishioner Mike Buleza.

Click here to read the entire article.

Heaven on Earth: Divine Liturgy

Heaven and earth meet in the Church through the Divine Liturgy. The newest full-color zine from the Greek Department of Religious Education begins with a brief history of worship in the Orthodox Church and then details each section of the Divine Liturgy.

Vacation Church School

1. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has published the first of three VCS programs: The Twelve Great Feastdays, available only in print. It is designed for five half-day sessions for ages 5-11, but includes suggestions for adapting it to different schedules and ages. It is available for purchase at 800-566-1088. 

2. The Hub describes many details, such as choosing a theme, daily schedule, choir rehearsal, and more.

Mini Units

FREE DOWNLOAD! Modules of 1-2 lessons for 3-4 different age groups. Some of the lessons are based on the Orthodox Church in America’s Youth theme of the year, such as Champions of the Faith. Other topics are suitable for seasonable emphases such as stewardship, charity, and missions, and may work for retreat settings.  


FREE DOWNLOAD! FOCUS is a series of modules of 5-6 lessons for 5 different age groups. Topics covered are the Journey to Pascha, the growth of Orthodox Christianity in North America, the Theotokos, and the Nativity season.



Here are some plays that are heavier on narration than on dialogue, which is easier for young children. Older students may enjoy the book (#4), which has more dialogue/memorizing lines.

1. The Trial of Jesus – an enactment of Jesus’ trial; includes two scenes and narration. Role-playing like

this could be easily adapted for any topic. 

2. A collection of plays written and produced by local parishes.

3. Christmas plays (click on Resources – Christmas Plays)

4. Playing It up for Christmas – a book of 5 Christmas plays.


Orthodox Church in America's Department of Christian Education

Visit the Orthodox Church in America's Department of Christian Education website at

Resources include:

  • Complete (FOCUS) Units. There are five units: Monasticism, Journey to Pascha, The Nativity Season, My Orthodox Family, and The Theotokos. The units consist of of 5-8 lessons written at five levels, preschool-adult.
  • Mini Units. There are 15 multi-leveled units of 1-2 lessons, including Mission, Repentance, and Champions of Faith.
  • Teacher Resources. In this category there are 182 articles, handouts, music, bible stories, tools, and activities.

Church Etiquette or Some Things You Should Know While in Church (Fr. David Barr)

In the Orthodox Church, there are a lot of customs and traditions that are important parts of our worship. Some are cultural; some are pious customs. Some are essential; some are not. From time-to-time, we need to address some of these various etiquette issues to inform our communities how we can best understand each other and work together to worship the all-holy Trinity.


The Department of Christian Education coordinates the Art, Poetry, Creative Writing and Photography festivals.

The Question (Betty Randolph)

Much of the Southeast suffered an ice storm this past December. The southeast does not ‘do’ ice or snow very well. We spent four days without power. The evening of the third day (Saturday) we went to stay with parishioners who had had their power restored. As we sat around the dining table. Ali (a bright eleven year old) asked the question.

Different Languages . . . Same Classroom (Anna Timko Hughes)

A number of years ago, I received an interesting call from a concerned parishioner.  The previous week’s bulletin had run an announcement that Church School registration would begin soon, and that parents or grandparents of all children ages four and up should register their children.

Tithing Program 2009-2010

The tithing theme for 2009-2010 is To Tithe Is To Show That We Care for the Church. On this web page you will find a set of parish posters, Teacher Notes, Student Booklets, and other materials.

Sunday Church School Directors

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Essential Resources for Every Church School

Download our helpful document listing essential resources.