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"Bridging religious and cultural divides"

[photo] tim atkinson with children thumb Photo: Time Atkinson (UTS '88) teaches children through energetic games.

This curriculum was the result of many years of continuous effort. I never planned it from the beginning. There was the immediate need to create a lesson each Sunday.

A teacher can receive many inspirations, but if the lessons aren't recorded, they can be lost forever.

I wanted to create a bank of material that could be used again and again. Over time the numbers of lesson plans became so large, that I realized I had the beginnings of a curriculum.

Download Sunday School Curriculum

When I look back, I can see the circumstances were ideal for the work to develop. I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

•    I was the right person, because I am a trained teacher, and had the skills and interest to invest in Sunday school.

•    Sweden was the right place, as I could focus on Sunday school, without big demands on our members. I had the freedom to use my creativity.

•    It was the right time, because when I arrived in Sweden in 1992, there was an emerging 2nd generation that developed into a fairly large group of children. We could then divide them into three different age groups. For each group I developed a three year programme of lessons. I also had a lot of help from members; at first from parents and later from older 2nd generation, who did much of the teaching.

tim atkinson teaching thumbI suppose the driving force behind it, is the need to educate our blessed families. The children are the future and we must take care of them. It is important that they feel part of our faith community, and that they matter, and there is a place for them. They belong. If we don't provide for their needs, how can they feel they belong? Expecting children to understand a sermon given by 40 or 50 year-olds, is unrealistic. Children need education for each stage of of their development. That's why I introduced three age groups.

When a child reached 6 years old, they graduated to the next group and again when they became 9, they graduated. They knew they were in each group for three years. It gave them a sense of security and progression.

Another aspect of Sunday school was the schedule. We didn't just study. The first 45 minutes all the children gathered together. We prayed, sang songs, and played energetic games. This created a lot of joy and laughter. Then the children split up into their groups and had their lesson for 45 minutes.

As the older 2nd generation became teachers, I created a teacher's manual and gave one-day seminars to teach teachers. This was a natural progression. They could be on the other side of the fence, take care of their younger brothers and sisters and revisit what they had been taught.

There is another part of the curriculum that also deserves a mention. I started doing one-day seminars for 8 to 12 year olds. Every 6 weeks, I took a break from Sunday school. The children spent one day together, doing a mixture of activities; studying, sport

Then I got one of my biggest inspirations. I bought a copy of "The Book of Virtues," by William J. Bennett, which contains moral stories teaching virtues, such as honesty and courage. I realised I could teach Divine Principle through virtues: the Ideal, the Fall, and Restoration. So began 9 years of doing one-day seminars. Spending a whole day together helped the children to bond with each other. I found seminars most enjoyable. It was a way to teach the Divine Principle in a child-friendly way.

"Bridging religious and cultural divides"

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