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The Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education (AODCE) supports church school directors, teachers, parents, and all who participate in the work of Christian education on the local level. Read more. 

Did you know there is a Saint George Church in Burqin?

By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. 

My last day in the village happened to fall on the holy Feast Day of St. George, though not yet on the old Julian calendar. Everything in Orthodox Christian tradition in the Holy Land happens thirteen days later.

Saint George is the most beloved saint in the whole Middle East and the patron saint of Taybeh in particular and Palestine in general. Thus, how can I depart this very sacred land and not mention besides our own St. George Church in Taybeh? I had the greatest blessing to see the new renovations at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Burqin. We hardly have any Christians left in Burqin yet it has been blessed with many miracles and a deep tradition of oral history about St. George. About seventy Christians who live there are maintaining the Light of Christ; this means a mere ten families or so! (View more photos here.)

Burqin is actually located within five minutes of Jenin City and is two hours north of Jerusalem. It is the place where Jesus healed the ten lepers when he was passing from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Since that first miracle it has inspired Christian pilgrims, especially since the time that St. Helen asked for the first churches to be built in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The bishop’s throne is carved out of stone and is 1600 years old. It is the only one of its kind in the Holy Land. I felt I was visiting one of the great treasures of the land of Christ’s Holy Resurrection.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has recently renovated the church, which is considered the fifth-oldest Christian holy place and the third-oldest church in the world. What amazed me the most is that during the renovations they discovered three rooms underneath the cave about six meters deep, in which the early Christians would pray in secret. Abu George, the church caretaker, said that fifty people fit in the area directly underneath the current Byzantine Church which is built in the actual cave where the lepers were healed. The church was destroyed during the Persian invasions, and after being rebuilt was again destroyed by an earthquake in 1068. It hosted a school for 120 years.

Father Fisarion from Greece has been in the Holy Land for over twenty-five years as a monk; the last few years he has been helping the Burqin community extend their church hall, also located in a renovated cave like area. It was comforting to know that the Palestinian President’s office donated the furniture for the lovely sitting area. We hope pilgrims might visit isolated locations that have deep rich Christian roots and we ask them not to be afraid to come walk the footsteps of Christ. Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!

Church School Directors, we hope to get a community together who can help one another by sharing their experiences. Check in with our Facebook page,

If you have not registered for the listserv, please email the department, at or Anna-Sarah at with your name and parish.

“Walking the Path of Salvation”

If you are interested in following along with the progress of the Curriculum Project, its website is: You will find the concept paper, the preparatory tasks and updates on the progress! You can also follow the project on Facebook:

Christian Ed Materials Available!

The Christian Ed Materials and Order Form  is now available for download! Download and use this new form to order materials for your parish program! Be sure to see the revised Billing and Shipping/handling sections of the order form. Also, visit the Antiochian Village Bookstore and Giftshop for your gift needs for Sunday School and home.


UPDATE: The Pan-Orthodox Continuing Education Conference at Antiochian Village

It’s been almost two years since we made a change to our yearly November event, The Orthodox Institute for Continuing Education in the Faith. First was the name change (see above), then a scheduling change—the event at Antiochian Village would occur every other year (the odd-numbered years) with regional Pan-Orthodox Continuing Education Conferences for the alternate years.

Indeed, last year we held three regional events, as well as other trainings. However, please note: we will NOT be sponsoring the Antiochian Village Conference this year. Budgetary constraints have made this decision necessary.

We will have money available for the Diocesan Coordinators to come to parishes for trainings. For information on hosting, please contact Leslie Atherholt, Staff Assistant for Special Projects, at the Department:



Desired Attributes of Sunday Church School Directors

By Chris Andreas

Though it would certainly be difficult to find individuals possessing all the attributes mentioned below, all are desirable for those wishing to hold the position of director of a Sunday Church School (SCS). Directors are those who must make everything “go,” and the programs will be at their best only when the leadership is equal to the tasks.

Faithful Members of the Church Sunday Church School
Directors are role models for the teachers, the students and their parents. A Director who says one should attend and participate in the Divine Liturgy and the sacramental life of the Church should also be a Director who attends and participates in them. A Director should think of her/himself as a continual learner of the Faith, reading, studying and reflecting on the Orthodox Tradition and passing along new books and ideas to the teachers. A Director should be spiritually motivated, filled with fervor and excitement.


Virtuous Year-End Awards

For many of us in North America, the Sunday Church School year is coming to an end. The end of a year offers the opportunity to note growth and accomplishment in all of us, but especially in our students. This a good time to review their growth and celebrate with them the positive ways we have seen them change.

Perhaps your Sunday Church School offers awards at the end of the year, such as certificates celebrating perfect attendance, most improved, best at ____, etc. Those achievements are important, and should be noted. But there are even more important ways for a child to improve than curriculum and attendance. As Orthodox Christians, we should constantly be evaluating and celebrating our spiritual growth and that of our students. The end of a school year is a great time to do so! Let us take a little time to think about each of our students and note their growth in the virtues. Growth in virtue is one way to measure their growth in The Faith. Perhaps this year would be a good time to begin giving our students virtues awards as well!

Not sure where to start? Check out our recent blog posts on the virtues, which offered suggestions of ways to teach our students about each of the virtues. Each of these blog posts can offer us helpful information about the virtue on which it focuses, which we can then apply as we think about each child. How have they grown in humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, and diligence? Which of these virtues do they best exemplify in their life? In which virtue have they grown the most?


Gleanings from a Book: "The Suitcase" by Jane G. Meyer

Orthodox Christian author Jane G. Meyer has written a new picture book called The Suitcase: a Story about Giving. The book was illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto. It is the story of Thomas, a boy who may be autistic but does not let his challenges keep him from being an active participant - even a leader - in entering the Kingdom of God while bringing others with him. Any reader, regardless of age, will be challenged to find ways to make God’s Kingdom happen in the world around them after meeting Thomas through this book. 

Here is a brief summary and review of the book:

Thomas is like clockwork. He is so precise with his preferred activities that you can almost predict what he will do each day. So, when he randomly shows up at the family supper table one night with a suitcase, declaring that he intends to leave for the Kingdom of Heaven, it catches everyone’s attention, for this is far from his routine!