Review: Webinar connects local church children's ministries with Cokesbury resources and opportunity for input

January 14, 2021

Wonder, curiosity and hands-on activities are all part of “Celebrate Wonder,” one of several curriculum choices for Sunday Schools offered by the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH). Brittany Sky, senior editor of Children’s Resources at UMPH, shared how to choose exciting and appropriate curriculum to match your church’s ministry program during the January 13, 2021 Wednesday Webinar.
 
Also, the newly formed Task Force on Children’s Ministry introduced an upcoming conference wide survey for pastor’s and Children Ministry leaders to complete this month. Rev. Jae-Kuk Jo, of Willow Glen UMC San Jose and member of the task force committee creating the survey, gives tips on how to quickly take the online survey.
 
Guest speaker, Brittany Sky, explains that along with regular print Sunday School classroom curriculum, churches now have the option to choose programs with online components to create virtual lessons and provide online resources for families to use at home including videos and downloadable activity packets.
 
“We know virtual Sunday School can be overwhelming at first,” states a webpage Sky refers church ministry staff to at https://reimaginesundayschool.com. The site offers four training webinars to coach teachers and pastors by step-by-step tips on how to set up a virtual Sunday School. “…we believe anyone can set up a weekly virtual lesson for their kids!”
 
Sky poses several questions for churches when choosing a new curriculum, including:
How do you live out your mission right now? How can you be more intentional? What do you want your children to know by the time they reach youth group age?
 
Sky also recommends churches identify the children in their church and community that they are likely to minister to and what resources the church has to meet those needs. How many children are there? What is their age range?
 
Curriculum options can be eliminated based on several factors including the ease of use, whether or not they reflect the theology and tradition of your congregation, and if they engage children through various learning styles.
 
Another factor in choosing the appropriate curriculum for your church is to review the  “scope and sequence,” or what is taught and in what order. Teachers can identify what stories, themes and ideas are covered throughout the year. For example, “Basic Bible Stories,” a UMC endorsed curriculum Sky wrote, covers all the Bible stories—from Genesis to Revelation, over a three-year period. Read the scope and sequence here

Another UMC endorsed curriculum also covers the entire Bible in 3 years is “Celebrate Wonder.” Find the scope and sequence here. But there are a host of other programs including “Deep Blue,” “One Room Sunday School,” and “Rotation Stations,” and more on the Cokesbury website. See the entire Cokesbury catalog here.
 
“It’s not always age appropriate to follow the exact lectionary,” states Sky. “but our curriculum does follow the liturgical cycle of the church.”
 
It is also important to review the teaching “format” which give teachers options on how the material is presented.
 
“In “Celebrate Wonder,” which is my favorite curriculum, there are four parts.” states Sky. See the format here. “There is always an introduction where, if you are in our younger classrooms, we gather around the wonder box and ask, “I wonder what this has to do with our story?” And pull an item out.” The curriculum then includes a Bible story reading time on video. There is a time to reflect through special activities with an added emphasis on play and wonder. The session ends with a group ‘spiritual practice.’
 
“We try to remind ourselves when we are thinking about the spiritual practices that our children engage with spirit in a way of playfulness,” explains Sky. “Their play is a way of them making meaning in the world. So, we want to give them an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful relationship they are building with God and each other.”
 
Sky notes that all curriculum offered by Cokesbury Kids at https://www.cokesburykids.com/ is antiracism, designed for inclusive classrooms and is trauma informed. And “I encourage you to also make sure that the art that your children see is contextual as well as diverse. So, we make sure that every piece of art shows Jesus and his friends and family as Palestinian-Jewish, brown—because Jesus wasn’t white.”
 
This webinar can be seen in full at cnumc.org. Sky’s Webinar PowerPoint can be downloaded here: For further questions, Brittany Sky can be reached at (615) 749-6107 or email at bsky@umpublishing.org
 
Established back in 1789 as the Methodist Book Concern, The United Methodist Publishing House is a publisher and distributor to Christian clergy and laity, with primary responsibilities for the publishing and distribution for The United Methodist Church. It operates under the direction and control of the twenty-one-member Board of The United Methodist Publishing House; most elected by the church’s five jurisdictional conferences, two selected by the United Methodist Council of Bishops, and up to five chosen by the Board. The Publishing House is a fully self-supporting agency and is the oldest and largest general agency of The United Methodist Church.
 
Cokesbury is the retail and customer service arm of The United Methodist Publishing House and serves United Methodists worldwide as well as a broad ecumenical audience representing numerous denominations and independent churches.  Cokesbury offers more than 300,000 unique products including books, Bibles, curriculum, worship resources, and church supplies through Cokesbury.com as well as the Cokesbury Customer Care Center (844) 734-3397).
 
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