A Vision for Christian Education: The ‘Total Parish’ Approach

Worship, Liturgy and Prayer

Weekly Resurrectional Cycle:

  • Saturday evening Vespers
  • Sunday morning Matins and Divine Liturgy

Weekly Liturgy of the Hours:

  • Vespers — Tuesdays and Thursdays (Daily in Great Lent)

Festal Commemorations:

  • Festal Vespers and Litia/Artoklasia and Divine Liturgy

Great Lent:

  • Rite of Mutual Forgiveness
  • Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
  • Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
    (Pan-Orthodox Divine Liturgy: First Sunday of Lent)
    (Pan-Orthodox Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts)
  • Communal Reading of the Life of St. Mary of Egypt
  • Compline and the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos


  • Sacramental Mystery of Confession and Reconciliation
  • Theophany-tide House Blessings
  • Monthly Panikhidas (first Saturday of each month)
  • Akathist “Glory to God for All Things” (Thanksgiving eve)
    (Pan-Orthodox Kneeling Vespers @ Pentecost)
    (Pan-Orthodox Great Blessing of the Willamette)

Sacramental Mysteries and Offices:

  • Baptism, Chrismation, Matrimony, Unction, Burial, etc.

Christian Education as such

Orthodoxy 101 (Introduction to the Orthodox Faith)

Weekly Inquirers’ Class (September through Lazarus Saturday)

  • The Bible in the Orthodox Church
  • Church History
  • The Nicene/Constantinopolitan Creed
  • The Mystery of the Human Person and Salvation
  • The Church Year — Feasts, Fasts and Seasons
  • Liturgy and Worship — Sacramental Theology
  • The Nature and Structure of the Church
  • Prayer and Spirituality

Orthodoxy 202 (Surveying the Orthodox Faith)

Weekly Vocations Program (Fall, Winter and Spring)

  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament
  • Church History
  • Liturgical theology
  • Dogmatic Theology (i.e., The Holy Trinity, Christology, Anthropology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology)

Bible Study (Seasonal)

  • The Apocalypse • Philippians • Ephesians, etc., publications available at the tract rack
  • PRAXIS Magazine
  • Doveworks EVERYDAY Cassette Ministry

Retreats and Gatherings

  • Annual Women’s Retreat
  • Annual Men’s Retreat
  • Annual Handmaidens’ Retreat
  • Annual Altar Boys’ Retreat
  • Annual Parish Council Retreat
  • Parish Community Forums
  • Lenten Choir Workshops
  • Teen Retreats
  • Readers’ Workshop with Father George and Tracey Edson
  • Liturgical Music Workshop with Tracey Edson
  • Iconography Workshop with Heather MacKean
  • High School Alpha Curriculum (twice per month) with Alan and Jan Bear
  • Junior High/Middle School (twice per month) with Jennifer McDonald
  • Elementary School (quarterly) with Jean and Dave Shaffer and others
  • “The Earth is the Lord’s — Caring for God’s Creation”
  • “Reaching Out: Our Call to Minister”
  • Pre-school (monthly) with various parishioners as guest instructors
  • (Pan-Orthodox Lenten Retreat and Advent Retreat)
  • (Pan-Orthodox Summer and Winter Camps @ Camp Angelos)
  • (Pan-Orthodox Vacation Bible School @ Holy Trinity)

Praxis — Christian Service and Outreach (Matthew 25 in action)

  • St. Francis Dining Hall (third and fourth Sundays each month)
  • St. Vincent de Paul Rehab (Christmas Party/Summer Picnic)
  • In-house (i.e., within the parish community) Stewardship
  • Home visitation, work-parties, etc.
  • Choir
  • Parish Nursing Program
  • Altar Servers
  • St. Gabriel’s Mission, Ashland
  • Handmaidens
  • Parish Seminarians at St. Vladimir’s
  • Readers/Lectors
  • Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in the Ukraine
  • Prosphora Bakers
  • St. Elizabeth Pastoral Care Team
  • St. Nectarios Pan-Orthodox Pastoral Visitors


  • Sunday Luncheon after Liturgy
  • Paschal Banquet
  • Teen Overnighters and Outings
  • Pot-Lucks after Presanctified
  • Pentecost BBQ and Picnic
  • Parish Work-Party Saturdays
  • St. Nicholas Day Banquet
  • Friday Youth Nites

Christian Education and the Orthodox Church in America

The 1999 All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America adopted as a Church-wide initiative a fresh look at parochial Christian Education. Our parish has committed itself to this vision. Many think that this is a new and innovative approach. A closer look will reveal that it is actually the way in which Christian formation organically and very naturally occurred from the beginning. “Church School” and “Sunday School” are recent (and actually foreign) phenomena in the life of Orthodoxy.

All too often parents leave the Christian Education and formation of their children to the parish’s teachers. Time and time again it has been demonstrated that this simply does not work. There is little connection between what goes on in the church school classroom and the worship of the congregation. In fact, there is little connection between what goes on in the church school classroom and the home. And most sadly, there is very little connection between the Sunday school curriculum and the lives of the students.

Although standard curriculum topics are often helpful, the usual tasks of memorizing a list of Church feasts, identifying the priest’s liturgical vestments, knowing how to tie the knots of a prayer rope, etc., have little application to living a life which is characterized by the Beatitudes and the Twenty-fifth Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

It is the belief of many that the very best “church school” is active participation in the full life of the Orthodox parish as a whole. This is the belief which inspired the adoption of the Church-wide initiative, mentioned above — Total Parish Education and Formation — and our own parish vision.

This means that the four areas of

  1. Liturgy, Worship, and Prayer
  2. Christian Education as such
  3. Praxis: Christian Service and Outreach
  4. Parish Community Fellowship

all comprise the needed holistic environment in which Christian formation can occur — at any age. Formal classroom-style Christian Education is the place where ideas, concepts, facts, examples and discussion are presented. It is in corporate liturgical and individual prayer life, together with service, outreach and fellowship that the ideas, concepts, facts, examples and discussion are lived-out, developed and reinforced. Practice makes permanent.

This flier gives an overview of parish life at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. This is for all parishioners: young and old; single or the members of a family. Recalling that we are members one of another (Rom 12:5), we live our common life in Christ, striving (with His grace) to grow to the fullness of the measure of His stature.

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