Church School in Goshen, IN - 06/28/11
The week of June 20th marked the fourth year that Holy Virgin Protection Parish in Goshen, Indiana has held a week-long Vacation Church School. Nineteen students between the ages of 5 and 15 participated in classes covering the Law of God, Choir, Iconography, Orthodox Geography, and Russian Folk Dancing. This year's themes were the Two Great Commandments and God's House, which traced the progression from the Tabernacle to Solomon's and Herod's Temples, and then to Orthodox Christian churches.
Teachers included priest Michael Carney and Matushka Darya Carney from St. Herman of Alaska parish in Lake Odessa, Michigan, as well as Larissa Sander from St. George parish in Cincinnati, Ohio, Zhanna Skalitsky from St. Vladimir parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Matthew Whirledge from St. Mary's Antiochian parish in Goshen, Indiana. Teachers from the host parish were Margaret Kownover, Valentina Protassenko, and priest Daniel Marshall. The school took a day-long pilgrimage to Holy Dormition Romanian Orthodox Convent in Rives Junction, Michigan and were graciously received by Abbess Gabriella and Mother Nectaria. The students presented Abbess Gabriella with a paper model of a church they had made, with the prayer that the new church being built at the convent be soon completed. They also sang a beautiful setting of "To Thee the Champion Leader", which they had memorized in Choir, and performed a Russian Folk dance they had been taught.
It was a grace-filled week of making new friends -- the students had come from 5 different parishes in 3 states -- and immersion in Orthodoxy for 5 hours each day. As the week concluded, students and teachers alike made long goodbyes, savoring the common experience and praising God for such small comforts. Thanks be to God!