Kerry Dickson 
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 08:11PM
TAP

Kerry Dickson (Photo: Joy Spencer)

Kerry Dickson talks with Sue Careless about “The Saints,” Year Three of the Anglican curriculum 622 that she has been writing for teens.

TAP: How are you defining a saint?

KD: We define saints the way the term is used in the New Testament – to include all believers. While those we have focused on in the lessons often led extraordinary lives, each one of us who believes gets to be included in this amazing company called “saints.”

TAP: Are you grouping the saints together by historical period, type or geography?

KD: We did really want to give a sense of the breadth of the saints that we celebrate: scholars, warriors, poets, mystics, theologians, bishops, social reformers, martyrs and more. Within our very large “family,” we can all find someone to relate to, someone to take comfort from, and someone to inspire us.

TAP: Do you cover all the saints listed in the BCP calendar (ix)? Are you including any modern-day ones?

KD: In order to keep the list of saints to a manageable length, we decided to limit ourselves to only those mentioned in the Prayer Book calendar (and 42 lessons covers only a fraction of those!).  We’ve made only one exception to this rule: C.S. Lewis. 

TAP: How are you organizing the curriculum?

KD: We looked at several different ways of grouping the units, but in the end we decided it was going to be most coherent to deal with them in a loosely chronological fashion. We’ve begun with a unit that sets the stage for all of the other lessons. We want to approach the saints of the church with an understanding that we serve the same unchanging God, that we share the same foundation, that God’s providential care is helping us towards the same goal, that we – along with them – are “called to be saints.” 

Next, we have a unit that deals with a selection of saints found in the New Testament canon. One of the wonderful things about beginning our survey of saints here is that it ties the faith in with its historic roots. Then we move on to the saints of the Early Church era, as well asthe Middle Ages and the Reformation, and then to those from more recent periods. We’ve built into the outline space to provide a bit of a broader context before approaching individual saints in that unit.

TAP: Could you describe two or three of your favourite ice-breakers from any year?

KD: You know, my favourite ice breakers are the ones that lead into the lessons really well. One of the challenges as a curriculum writer is that the sort of ice breaker that I personally enjoy participating in is not necessarily ideal for everyone else, so the goal is to provide a real variety: drama games, word games, craft-style activities, team-builders, a mix of quiet and active, and so on.

Some of the ice breakers that I get most excited about are the ones that I feel can have value beyond the moment. For example, in the first year of the curriculum there are two back-to-back lessons with ice breakers called “Flag of Me” and “Flag of You” – the first is an exploration of personal identity, but the second is a way to shift the focus off of the self to encourage others meaningfully. There are notes of encouragement that I received from church friends as a teen that I still have – both the notes and the friends. So if groups using these lessons can be built into a strong core of friends who ARE the Church to one another, then that is something that can provide them with encouragement and support, not just for a moment but for many years to come and even throughout their lives.

TAP: Do you have any idea how widely Years One and Two of the 622 Curriculum are being used?

KD: Diana Verseghy (the project co-ordinator) and I had hoped to receive a bit more feedback from parishes using the curriculum than we have had so far. But we’re encouraged by the traffic we see on our website which demonstrates some good interest, beginning with our launch of the First Year and carrying through with our launch of Year Two in 2017. We’ve been pleased to hear from Holy Trinity in White Rock, BC that the curriculum is working well for their pre-teen group, as well as to receive a public endorsement of the curriculum by Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Diocese of Huron. We would love to hear from others who have used or are using 622, both on what is working well and what could be improved!

I understand that the representatives of the Diocese of the Arctic expressed great interest in the curriculum when they saw the publicity material at the Prayer Book Society of Canada information booth at the last General Synod. This is the great advantage of having the material available for free on-line; no matter how poor or remote the parish, they can readily take advantage of it.

TAP: Do you think adults could adapt 622 for their Bible study groups?

KD: I’m really pleased that you asked that! I absolutely think so! The lessons are specifically written for teens, but the timeless truths that we’re exploring are ageless. If a group leader wanted to use the lessons for an adult group, the ice breakers and lead-in discussion sections would be the areas where some modifications might be appropriate, but the lessons and at-home challenges would be, I feel, very relevant.

TAP: What have you learnt through this four-year writing project?

KD: I have friends with whom I correspond who love when I’m in a “curriculum-writing season” because – I’m told – my letters become much more interesting and dense with all that I’m learning and coming across. I have re-learned the perennial lesson that as believers we desperately need to be in the Word, meditating on it, allowing it to challenge us and build us, reminding us of who we truly are and where we’re truly headed.

TAP: While it makes tremendous sense to place it all online (easy to revise and update and affordable for everyone) is there any interest in producing a hard copy, at least for leaders? (I’d personally love one.)  

KD: I’m told that there aren’t currently any plans to produce a hard copy. Of course, you are welcome to print out as much of the curriculum as you like!

TAP: I love that you have made the home challenge so devotional. It is so easy to be fun and engaged and/or educational but some Sunday schools or youth groups may forget the devotional element. And you have incorporated into it both corporate and personal prayer. Well done! 

KD: Thank you! My personal belief is that if the project is going to be effective it must do more than inform the mind, it must also shape the heart. This is why those take-home sections are so important. Actually, we had a number of parish youth leaders who graciously agreed to test some of the lessons and provide us with feedback. Initially we’d called those sections “Homework” but one of our test drivers told us there was “open revolt” at that label, and wisely suggested rebranding it as an “At Home Challenge,” which we did.  

TAP: What keeps you busy when you are not writing this curriculum?

KD: Most of my work is in providing communications-related support to churches. I have the privilege of working with a number of very different parishes and it is a joy to witness their ministries and hopefully help them to do what they’re already doing a bit better.   TAP

Article originally appeared on The Anglican Planet (http://anglicanplanet.net/).
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