One complicated task in forming Christian children is teaching about, explaining, the world’s other faith traditions. Children are curious and they are right to be curious. They have Jewish friends, Muslim friends, Sikh friends, Hindu friends. What do these differences mean? How can we help them sustain friendship and respect across these boundaries – as children, as youth, and as adults?
Vicki Garlock’s Faith Seeker Kids is an exceptional curriculum resource for Christian formation that includes an understanding of other faith traditions. Garlock writes,
“The curriculum uses the Christian Bible as the foundational ancient text and as a jumping off point to learn about other cultures and religious practices. For example, when kids read the story of Joseph, they also read the story from the Muslim Tales of the Prophets. When they read about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, they also learn about meditation as a form of prayer and make Buddhist prayer flags. We want the children who experience our Sunday School curriculum to be unafraid – unafraid to explore their relationship to the Divine, unafraid to question their own viewpoints, unafraid to explore other ancient texts and faith practices, unafraid to grow.”
The curriculum uses stories, experiential activities, crafts, drama, and questioning. If this sounds interesting, you might like to take a look at Garlock’s credentials, her statement of the goals of the program, and some sample lessons.
As I read Garlock’s material – and it is a delight to read – I find myself wondering what kind of resistance her approach might encounter in a denominational church. Do parents bring their children to an Episcopal church Sunday school with the expectation that the kids will be taught how to be Episcopal? (Feel free to substitute the denomination of your choice.) If I wanted to bring this program into a parish, I’d start with an older group of children in a not-Sunday-morning experience, and let parents observe, participate, and reflect.
Yes, yes, yes, we need to do this. Our children are going to grow up to be questioners. This curriculum gives us a chance to affirm that, to bring their questions into the faith community, and to develop a praxis for questioning. Really important. Take a look.