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Christian Education

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August 28, 1994

Proper 17


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Smithfield, NC 27577


Lessons:  Deut. 4:1-9

Psalm 15

Eph. 6:10-20

Mark 7:1-23

Christian Education

Two week’s from today we begin our Fall Christian Education Program.  We will all gather at 9:45 a.m. on September 11th in the Parish hall.  We will greet each other in the name of the Lord, we will pray for God’s blessings on our endeavor, we will sing a song of praise, and we will be off to our respective classes by 10:00 a.m.  Over the past few months, a lot of people have spent a lot of time and your vestry has invested a lot of money to insure a successful Christian Education program here at St. Paul’s.

Specifically, Beverly Jordan has through her gentle leadership and with God’s grace brought us as a congregation to a critical place in our corporate life.  The materials have been assembled, the teachers recruited, the programs planned, and all that is left is for the rest of us to participate.

For many years now this congregation has struggled with its commitment to Christian Education.  Many of us have made valiant efforts, some successful, some not so successful.  But that’s history, we can’t change that, we can only learn from it.  Some have, over the years, left our worship community seeking a level of Christian Education which they felt was not available or not possible here.  As a community we have mourned their leaving us.

Perhaps it is being unrealistic to expect that we might have all of those adults and children back, but your vestry believes, all of the Christia Education volunteers believe, and Father Rightmyer and I believe that it is very realistic and within our grasp to provide a high quality and meaningful Christian Education experience for every adult, teenager and child who is willing to come and participate with us. 

Just listen to this cast of characters and programs planned for September 11th and beyond.

Pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade will be lead by Betty Jones and Teresa McGrady; second and third grades by Meg Scovil and Kiki Farish; and fourth, fifth  and sixth grades by Ann Davenport and Steve Tuttle.  Pre-kindergarten through sixth grade will be using the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum recently developed by a talented team from Virginia Theological Seminary.  Teenagers will meet with the adults to view a series of video tapes on the Bible and modern issues.  The Teenagers will then separate for their discussion led by John Branch, Jim Caldwell, Tom Stevens and Allen Wellons.  The adults will be led by Phil Taylor and Father Righmyer.  Olivia Edmonson will provide music for our gathering at 9:45 A.M.  Lory and David Haygood have agreed to help our young people with an EYC program Sunday evenings.  They will also assist with the morning program.

In every study ever done on church life, Prayer and quality Christian Education have been found to be the cornerstones of congregational existence.   Without Prayer and quality Christian Education the church by anyone’s definition cannot last for long. 

Outreach and moral consciousness first become mere duties and half hearted copies of government programs before ceasing all together.  Children and adults either never learn or forget their spiritual heritage, without which worship and all other aspects of church life soon become chores, empty of meaning and void of joy and thanksgiving.  People drift away and those who stay wonder what went wrong.  Most often what went wrong was that prayer was not the center of church life and that Christian Education was seen as some sort of necessary evil. 

Now, Episcopalians are pretty good at prayer.  We are referred to as the people of two books, The Prayer Book and The Bible.  Perhaps it is time we claimed both of those books.  It has also been said that our more protestant brothers and sisters know what the Bible says but don’t understand very well what it means and that Episcopalians think they know what the Bible means but don’t really know what it says.  My challenge for all of us is to make a commitment as a congregation, as a fellowship of worshipping believers, to lay claim to both of our books.  My challenge is for us to come to know and use our Book of Common Prayer.  My challenge is for us to come to know what the Bible means and what the Bible says.  My challenge is for us to truly become a people of two books, a people of prayer and a people of truth and faith.

We have a lot to celebrate already at St. Paul’s.  There has been an active EFM group here for six years.  This fall three new students will join this challenging 4-year theological study.  The Brotherhood of St. Andrew has for over 2 years been engaged in serious Bible study as part of their program of Prayer, Study and Service.  This fall they will begin a study of Luke’s Gospel. 

There is a faithful core of adults, teachers and children who have kept Christian Education alive over the years and even over this past very difficult year.  But we need you, we need all of you.  When you just can’t be here, we will forgive; when we are missing or late, please forgive us; but please, please, please for the sake of our common life together come at 9:45 each and every Sunday and bring a friend, a neighbor.

Moses said, Now, Isreael, listen to the statues and laws which I am teaching you, and obey them; then you will live, and go in and occupy the land which the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you…  You must observe them carefully, and thereby display your wisdom and understanding to other peoples…But take good care; be on the watch not to forget the things that you have seen with your own eyes, and do not let them pass from your minds as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.  (From Deut. Chapter 4)

In the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen

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