Virtual Church School finds new home
The Virtual Church School curriculum has now moved to its own website: www.churchschool.info. Launched in February 2008 by the Diocese of Keewatin, the project offers year-round, lectionary-based lessons in English and French and is available for free online.
The new site is structured to link up with the lectionary and includes updated lessons, background material, and links. There are a few new resources, including an outline for a nativity play.
Fiona Brownlee, project coordinator and lesson writer, is the brains behind the operation. A seasoned educator and curriculum writer, Ms. Brownlee has written three years’ worth of lessons to correspond with the Revised Common Lectionary. Michel Gagnon, a lay reader in the Diocese of Montreal, translates all lessons into French.
Dozens of churches across Canada use this material, including many smaller rural and isolated parishes—from the Arctic to the Prairies. Virtual Church School lessons are designed to be easy to read and plan, with few extra resources needed.
“I think it’s important to encourage all parishes to continue with a Christian education ministry, even if they don’t have the ability to buy more expensive curriculum resources,” said Ms. Brownlee.
“Children all across the church deserve quality Christian education material.”
Up until now, Virtual Church School material was hosted on the Council of the North website, but as the council begins to refocus its work, Fiona and other leaders decided it was time for a dedicated website.
For Mr. Gagnon of St. James the Apostle, Montreal, the Virtual Church School is valuable because, according to his assessment, it’s the only Anglican church school material available in French.
“Five years ago, we were faced with the same dilemma in our own parish: where to find material that would be suitable for a small group of children for whom French was the common language,” said Mr. Gagnon.
“Published resources tend to be elaborate and expensive for very small groups and besides, the benefit of having ready-to-print exercises is lost when most of them cannot be used because of the language barrier.”
Mr. Gagnon also appreciates that Virtual Church School lessons follow the church’s standard lectionary—the Revised Common Lectionary—so parents and children work through the same material and can discuss it at home.