After 8 years, 32 quarters, and 416 weeks, this is the last week of the current children’s Sunday school curriculum, Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News. Next week will be the first week of the new curriculum, Shine: Living in God’s Light.
In the course of this thoughtful curriculum I have done countless puzzles, tried my hand at various crafts, and edited numerous Bible stories as I read through session after session.
But my own work comes nowhere close to that of Project Director Anna Speicher. By my estimation, she has read a total of some 2600 sessions. (Curriculum was produced weekly for seven age groups for the first two years of Gather’ Round, and after that it was for six age groups each week.)
I was hired by Anna in February 2005 to serve as managing editor for Gather ’Round, a full year and a half before the first curriculum was used by congregations. MennoMedia and Brethren Press are the co-publishers of Gather ’Round (just as they are for Shine), and in those early days we made decisions about student book names, we established the parameters for what each product would look like, and most of all we hoped and prayed that this curriculum would aid congregations and families in forming faith.
Being part of the Gather ’Round team has been a privilege in my life, and I’d like to share a few highlights.
- Sharing: In my former congregation, I was part of planning a summer worship series using Gather ’Round themes. It was a delight to bridge my own faith and my work in this way, and to share this brand new curriculum with my church.
- Teaching: I have loved teaching Gather ’Round. For two years I taught the Middler curriculum to one child. It was certainly a small class, but this one-on-one teaching was such a good way for me to really understand each session. Since then I’ve mostly taught the Preschool curriculum to a group of about five children. There’s no time to go deep with active three and four year olds, but I have appreciated the great variety of activities suggested in each session as we quickly moved between them. It was a delight to see how some children got engaged in memory work, others in art, some in games, and still in others in retelling the story. It reinforced for me the importance of teaching to the multiple ways that children learn.
- Learning: Participating first as the managing editor and later as a member of the oversight group for Gather ’Round has meant that I’ve learned about all angles of producing a curriculum. I’ve put my seminary Greek language skills to good use and also sharpened my pencil as I looked over sales figures and budgets.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and the children, youth, and families in your congregation with Gather ’Round! And we look forward to sharing with you through Shine: Living in God’s Light.
To close, here’s a glimpse of Gather ‘Round by the numbers:
denominations represented among Gather ‘Round users
Bible insight essays
Thousands and thousands
of children and youth taught