RELIGIOUS EDUCATION AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF PENFIELD
Religious education has been evolving here at First Baptist Penfield, especially after recently completing a thorough evaluation of our programs and structures with the Revive Alive program. As a result of that self assessment, we have reorganized our classes according to the results of what we learned about ourselves and our values.
Children and Youth
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!
Little ones to him belong: they are weak, but he is strong.”
Newborns and Toddlers
Our newborns and toddlers are cared for by Mrs. Jen Mandarano in the nursery throughout worship and second hour. Jen is certified in CPR/AED (Adults & Children) with additional CPR for infants. She is also trained in Standard First Aid. Most importantly, she provides a loving and nurturing environment in which our youngest children are safe and secure while their parents and siblings are engaged in other church activities. When there are opportunities for the little ones to join us, however, Jen makes a point of making sure that they are present to sing, ring bells, or participate in whatever manner they can.
“Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
While the above hymn is being sung following the Invocation and Lord’s Prayer, all of the children come forward for Children’s Time.
At the conclusion of the story, children under seven years of age leave the sanctuary to attend Children’s Church with Deb Lochner and to begin the church’s Bible literacy program. Deb and her students are using the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, an inclusive curriculum based on the lectionary. Because all classes at First Baptist Penfield have subscribed to this same series, we will all be studying the same passages, making it possible for families to discuss their lessons later together. It is in Deb’s class, however, that those very important stories from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are first introduced. Deb employs many hands-on activites as she stresses the universal themes of family love, forgiveness, generosity, mercy and faith. Music, games, crafts and creative play highlight the activities in this busy room where children grow to be friends in Christian love.
“Our God is an awesome God,
He reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and love –
Our God is an awesome God!”
For the time being, we have a single group of students that encompasses all of our young people in elementary through middle school. This group also uses the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, but rather than employing a single teacher, the group has four rotating teams of teachers, each team assigned a designated Sunday of the month. The teams meet periodically to plan their lessons for the young people and to ensure that the teachers are avoiding redundancies and gaps in the curriculum. The purpose of this program is to help young people explore the mystery and meaning of scripture as it relates to their lives today, especially its potential to empower them to be transformed by Christ. Discussions lead them to make real-world connections between faith and life and to see what it means to be Christian in a pluralistic world. This is an inquiry-based program that encourages its students to become faithful stewards in God’s world.
2014 Vacation Bible School
Each summer we provide a Vacation Bible School for the community. We have room for up to 50 children who learn about God through skits, music, stories, games, and themed snacks.
“Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth you have for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now, on bended knee, ready I wait your will to see;
open my eyes, illumine me, spirit divine!”
Rumination on Above Lyric: Open my ears, that I may hear. My mouth, that I may bear the truth. My heart, and let me prepare. Such is the hope of any religious, educational program, we suspect, but this hope is especially appropriate for an adult class where we hope to avail all of our senses, our total being, to God’s Grace. At First Baptist Penfield we host Second Hour Sodalities, an old-fashioned term for a devotional fellowship that studies together. Each Sunday of the month sponsors a slightly different emphasis, yet each is based on the truths derived from our study of scripture.
First Sunday – “Mission & Discipleship” with Mission Board and/or Common Life. Together we consider the needs of others, often by hosting guest speakers from the Rochester community. More importantly, we then discuss how to respond to the needs we meet. Seasons of the Spirit used as needed.
Second Sunday – “Bible Study: A Summons to Faith”with Teaching & Worship (Linda Boesl). This study is based on our Seasons of the Spiritcurriculum and is intended to complement the sermon content; sermon talk-backs will be offered when requested.
Third Sunday – “Open Forum: Mumblings and Musings”with Coordinating Council (Don Fox). This is our opportunity to share, to raise those burning questions, to vent! Seriously, if there are issues which need to come to the attention of the Coordinating Council, now is when we talk, but if there are no issues, then Don leads one of his spirited and relevant “Hot Potato” discussions. Seasonscurriculum will be used to keep our program aligned with our mission statement..
Fourth Sunday – “God-Talk: The Big Picture!” with Teaching & Worship (Linda Boesl). Once again, we use our Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, but this time we leave our comfort zone and go into the world at large as we were called to do in John 17:22 – So that they may be one. This church of one and many is diverse and ecumenical; it is rich in its variety of cultural and global perspectives. As with the young people’s curriculum, our goal here is to remind ourselves to remain Christian, global citizens.
Fifth Sunday – “Fellowship in the Kitchen” with Gina Bergonzi-Blackman and all others as we prepare, deliver and serve a meal to Cameron Community Ministries in downtown Rochester. Rumor has it that all good parties end up in the kitchen, and this good “party” is no different. Fifth Sunday serves those who cannot serve themselves. Prepare to enjoy yourself!