As I am sitting down to write out end-of-the-year cards to go in each of my Goyans’ care packages, I can’t help but reflect on the crazy turn of events that the year of 2020 has brought us! Every single person’s life has basically turned upside down. For those of us who work in parish ministry, we have had to throw everything we planned out the window and rapidly create new digital ministries for our parishes. Zoom and social media have been great resources and a great way to keep things going, but after two months, I think we are all about ready to just press restart for the fall. As nice as that sounds, we still have to try to think through ending this Church school year and how, digitally or not, we can smoothly and safely transition to summer. So the questions is, how can we end the year on a high note, knowing that we have honored our students who have so graciously stayed flexible and easy going throughout this whole process?
After researching this and speaking with fellow parish ministry leaders, we came up with some suggestions for ending the school year on a positive note:
- Have your parish priest announce the name of each student at the end of Divine Liturgy on your parish’s live-stream video
- Send care packages to each student with items to help them grow in their faith over the summer
- Have teachers hand-write personal cards for each of their students
- Mail gifts and Sunday Church school certificates to each student
- Keep in touch virtually by hosting group Zoom calls once a month during the summer
- Host virtual game nights to help everyone stay connected
- Start a virtual countdown for the start of Sunday Church school and GOYA in the fall
Things you can do to honor your parish graduates:
- Yard signs
- Distance parking lot parades for the grads
- Grads can wear caps and gowns and participate in a virtual Sunday Church school graduation open to the whole parish
- Create an “adopt a grad” program and encourage godparents or parishioners to sign up to send or drop off grad care packages
- Deliver care packages with gifts for the grads to take with them to their next destination (e.g., Bibles, Holy Week books, prayer books)
- Create a video and photo montage to be “viewed” together as a parish
- This can be played at the end of a live-streamed service or viewed together as a Facebook “viewing party” on the parish page
- Using the parish’s social media accounts, create posts celebrating each graduate
Here are a few examples of what other parishes have done so far:
So what can we do?
Keep in mind that in order to save money, you might need to spend a little bit more time!
- Assess your parish’s capabilities and limitations
- Follow the guidelines of your state and metropolis
- Create a budget
- Come up with a plan and a backup plan
- Meet with your priest and other ministry leaders to collaborate
- Work together to make sure each student in your parish feels special and honored as a member of your church family!
Last, but not least, remember to honor your parish volunteers as well. They truly deserve it!
Click to watch a webinar by hosted by the DRE about ending the church school year and beginning summer ministries!
The Department of Religious Education’s online store, OrthodoxMarketplace.com, is a huge resource for finding gift items for all ages.
Feel free to reach out to the DRE for your parish educational needs throughout the entire Church school year: