School is out, your children’s programming has stopped or slowed down until the fall, and the church educators may be putting their feet up for some well-deserved rest for a month or so. But before you pack the car and head to the beach, please file this blog away for when you get back to evaluating the curriculum resources you’re using.
The first place you will want to go on the Internet is Sharon Pearson’s blog, Rows of Sharon. Sharon is the Christian Formation Specialist at Church Publishing Incorporated. Every year she updates her curriculum overview charts, which you may find here. They provide a color-coded overview of published curriculum resources available to Christian churches in the U.S. And while these charts help you to narrow down the overwhelming number of choices out there, I can assist you further by giving you the low-down on which publishing houses are theologically aligned with the United Church of Christ.
There are two publishers that have similar values and theological grounding as the United Church of Christ. Wood Lake Publishing supports the United Church of Canada and offers “Seasons of the Spirit” and “The Best of the Whole People of God Online.” While “The Best of…” is only minimally updated, it remains a high quality resource that focuses on peace, justice, and welcoming our neighbors. “Seasons…” is updated annually and remains a high quality resource for the entire congregation including resources for worship and service.
The other is Brethren Press which supports the Mennonites. Their Shine curriculum aligns nicely with the UCC’s peace and justice focus.
The Episcopal, Methodist (UMC), Reformed, Presbyterian (PCUSA) and Lutheran (ECLA) publishing companies offer a wide variety of resources, many of which are popular with UCC congregations. However there are occasions when the church educator will need to stay on top of what is presented, particularly if it implies excluding certain types of people. Pronouns for God are generally male.
Baptist and independent publishers offer materials that are not LGBTQ-friendly and may overemphasize male pronouns.
Rob Bell’s Nooma DVDs remain a high quality alternative for teens and adults. The MA Conference Office has several available on loan. They are also available for purchase here as video downloads.
I am currently researching Orange curriculum materials. While they come out of a mega church in the Mid-West, the research that backs their materials is solid and influences its high quality blogs, webinars and apps for parents, solid videos for kids, up-to-date research-based materials for supporting teachers, etc. I envision a church with an educator who can weed out hidden exclusion texts and restricted teachings, as well as supplement with UCC practices, will find this a fascinating resource to use.
And finally, be sure to check out the MA Conference curriculum resources webpage for help with evaluating, adapting, and choosing curriculum materials, as well as links to alternative methods and supplemental resources.
Blessings on your summer, and blessings on the resource selections you make to nurture your congregation’s growth in faith.
Debbie Gline Allen is the Minister of Faith Formation, Youth and Families for the Southern New England Conference.