Teach All Nations: Proclaiming the Gospel around the World

By Fr. John Matusiak, Dn. Michael Anderson, Dr. Constance Tarasar, Barbara Kucynda

Session titles

This unit is intended to accomplish the following:

1. To strengthen the participants’ sense of their Orthodox identity as part of the Church that has existed continuously from the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles to the present day

2. To place the basic message of the Church into an active context: i.e., to show how the Good News delivered by Jesus Christ has been proclaimed by the Church to this very day.

3. To make the students aware of the spread of the Church in times past, and the growth of the Church today.

4. To foster an appreciation for the history of the student’s parish and to allow them to place that history into the broader framework of the Church’s experience.

5. To enable adult parishioners to serve as resources for the children and to allow faithful of all ages to interact.

6. To introduce a very basic, thematic history of the Church in North America.

Age and Grade Level

Understanding that Vacation Church Schools, Camps and many small Church Schools have participants ranging in age from early elementary to high school, each session contains several options from which the teacher can choose to best serve his or her students. These options include objectives as well as ideas for discussion, reflection and action. In general, ideas are organized in the following sections: “A”is for younger participants approximately 7-9, “B” is for ages 10-12(13), and “C” is for teenagers.

Occasionally, any given section may refer you back to another section. In such cases the ideas listed in that section can be used for both age groups.

Reproducing this unit: All educational units designed by our Unit on Education and Community Life Ministries are designed to be reproduced locally. Every teacher and staff member should have his or her own copy.

Additional Resources

In addition to the texts mentioned in the session outlines, the following resources are a great help to leaders as they prepare:

1. Saints for All Ages - Available from the Orthodox Christian Publications Center, PO Box 588, Wayne, NJ 07470-0588; 201/694-5782; FAX 201/305-1478.

2. Portraits of America Saints - Compiled and edited by Father George A. Gray and Jan V. Bear. Written in a simple and clear style, this 68-page book offers the lives of the American saints and other important individuals in the life of the Orthodox Church in North America. The book is available from the Diocese of the West, 650 Micheltorena Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026.

3. Icon of saints who have shone forth in North America - Ideal as a companion to Portraits of American Saints, this icon depicts Saints Herman, Innocent, Tikhon, Juvenaly, Peter the Aleut, Alexis Toth, John Kochurov, Jacob Netsvetov, and Alexander Hotovitsky, along with Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny. It is available in various sizes from the Orthodox Christian Publications Center (OCPC). See above.

4. Bicentennial Icon of American Saints - This icon depicts the Virgin Mary and child surrounded by Saints Herman, Innocent, Tikhon, Juvenaly, and Peter the Aleut. It is also available in various sizes from OCPC.

5. Orthodox America - While this large red book is currently out of print, many priests and parishes have copies in their library.

The following manuals offer a wealth of background information for teachers and staff members. While you may have copies in your Church School supply room, they may be ordered from the Orthodox Christian Education Commission 1/800-464-2744

6. The Young Church - A 7th Grade Manual on the Acts of the Apostles, The Young Church contains a variety of activities and projects which can be adapted to some of the sessions.

7. Heroes for Truth and New Frontiers - These manuals, originally published for Junior High School students, offer a wealth of information on the Church’s history and provide a comprehensive background for teachers and staff.

Video Presentations

8. An American Destiny — Available from the Orthodox Christian Publications Center.

9. Unity - A video presentation on the history and vision of Orthodoxy in North America. Available from St. Tikhon’s Seminary Bookstore.

Orthodox Websites of Interest

The following websites include historical information on the missionary growth of the Church throughout the world.

Orthodox Church in America Homepage: https://www.oca.org — Check out links to the Orthodox Christians in North America book, and parish home pages containing parish histories.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate Homepage: http://www.patriarchate.org — Check out the History Guide to the Patriarchate and About Patriarchate links.

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of New York and All North America Homepage: http://www.antiochian.org — Follow the Contents link to the History of the Patriarchate of Antioch and its North American Archdiocese for information.

The Church of Russia Homepage: http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru — The Historical background link has lots of information.

The Church of Greece Homepage: http://www.eastorthodox.ariadnet.gr/eastorthodox/church_of_greece/index1.html — Go to the History link.

The Church of Alexandria, Egypt, and all Africa: http://www.greece.org/gopatalex/History of the Patriarchate link.


Remember that your preparedness and interest in the subject and in the participants are invaluable. If you think that what you do together is important, the example will rub off on them.

Please read and think about each session well before the time you teach it. You may want to gather materials, consult with your priest about some point of information, or get data from the parish library, public library, or an Orthodox book service before the session. In addition, It is always a good idea to reflect on the lesson several days before presenting it. Good ideas often come over time.

Throughout the unit, questions are followed by basic answers in order to assist the teacher in guiding the discussion. Try not to give or look for the exact written answer. Rather, encourage students to discuss the question enough so that they will come up with an answer which includes the main ideas contained in the given answer, but in their own words. The more they can discuss these main ideas, the more they will learn.

Begin and end each session with a prayer [i.e., O Heavenly King, It is Truly Meet]. It is important that participants understand that doing God’s will is always achieved when we continuously call on His name for guidance. Check with your parish priest about what would be most appropriate.

The activities in this unit will be most successful if students participate in the Liturgical Services related to the feast of Pentecost and the commemoration of the various saints of North America: All Saints of North America (2nd Sunday after Pentecost); All Saints of Alaska (Sept. 24); St. Herman; St. Innocent; St. Juvenal; St. Peter the Aleut; St. Alexander Hotovitsky; St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre; St. John Kochurov.

Finally, be flexible and creative!
This study unit demands local input, talent, and creativity. Do not be afraid to alter the sessions to fit your own circumstances. The more you can make this material relevant to the youth in your area, the more successful we all will be.

Let us hear from you!

If you use this unit, in its present form or in your own adapted fashion, please let us know. Share your experience . . . and your photos for The Orthodox Church newspaper! Many people throughout our Church need to see that things like this can and are being done. You can contact our unit at Orthodox Church in America, Education and Community Life Ministries, PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791 or at youth@oca.org. We hope this unit is helpful in your ongoing ministry!