by Mine Tsugawa

     Although, I have deep roots in and very special memories of Sunday school from my own childhood, Sunday school and its activities are very new to me as a parent and as a so-called staff member. However, I will try my best to update you with my limited knowledge of its recent history and future goals.

    Since about the completion of the new Multipurpose Hall at Dendocho, we have been able to split our Sunday school into 3 separate groups, the “Sprouts” (ages Pre-K to kindergarten), the “Elementary group” (ages 1st to 6th grade) and the “Shohi group” (ages 7th grade and up). This was not only due to the availability of new space but, also, because we have been fortunate enough to be able to have wonderful, caring people (both regular on-going volunteer staff members, as well as guest speakers, including Reverends, guest volunteers and those who donate the children’s snacks regularly) who help by putting their energies and efforts into the spiritual nurturing of our kids (ie - the future of our path). Over the last few years, because of the support we’ve been getting from our volunteers, we have been able to also, create annual themes and monthly topics to coincide with those annual themes. For example, in 2003, our theme for the year was the Service. So, each month the kids learned something new relating to the Service, like the reason for doing the Service, the different types of Services, the Kagura Service (including the Kanrodai and the 10 providences), the ceremonies and procedures performed prior to the Monthly Service, etc. as well as some basics that we cover every year like Hinokishin, A Thing Lent, A Thing Borrowed, and so on. Each of the 3 groups basically follow the main themes but, do activities, crafts and have speakers geared toward the needs of the individual age group. Since one of our goals is to have the kids get to know one another and build relationships, a few times a year, we have all 3 groups get together during Sunday school time and have a joint activity. It’s really neat to see some of the big kids taking care of the little ones like they were their own little brother or sister.
    We even have a mission statement as follows:  

To nurture the children’s knowledge of, belief in, and use in daily life of the teachings of God the Parent by making Shonenkai (Sunday school) a fun and positive place to build relationships with others at church and with God the Parent and thereby, helping them towards their path to living a Joyous Life.  

    As you can see, I am very excited and proud of our children as well as how far we’ve come. We’ve expanded not only in space, staff and curriculum but, also in the actual number of kids at Sunday school. I’d like to think that when the kids are with us, it’s not “just childcare” but, time well spent on one small part of their journey through their spiritual development. We as parents, Shonenkai and Sunday school supporters and as a church group must take quick action in the nurturing of our youth, as the window of time to do so for each child is so limited. As any parent knows, children grow up so quickly. And though we may have a long way to go, I feel that we are headed towards that goal.

    I am also excited to announce that thanks to the efforts of Joyce Nomachi, we have filled a little section in the announcement window box in front of the Dendocho office with some photos of recent classes and tentative schedule of monthly topics. We plan to update from time to time. Please check it out when you get a chance and see what the kids have been up to.

    One last thing; I’d also like to give a great BIG thank you to all those supporters of Sunday school that I mentioned above, as well as those who support it even if only in spirit, because if it weren’t for you, all that I’ve mentioned would not be possible…really and truly. Thank you!
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