Catechism Level 4: Basic Spirituality
Term: Yearlong 2019–20, September 3–May 22
Target Grade Levels: 5+
Schedule: 1x / week, 90 min.
Section 1: Fri. 10:45 a.m. ET with Fr. Nikolai Meyers
Two-Year Rotation: Click for Details
We offer four levels of catechism classes, each on a two-year rotation. This allows students to take up to 8 years of catechism classes without repeating any material. Students who have only taken one year of a given level are welcome and encouraged to take the second year before moving on.
In Basic Spirituality, we take two years to introduce our students to various biblical, theological, liturgical, and ecclesiastical concepts and terms that they will encounter in their life in Christ. Everything is taught from an Orthodox Christian perspective, so students will be encountering theological words such as theosis, a term that describes the results of living a holy life, alongside liturgical terms such as Lent and liturgy. This coming year we will spend a large portion of the second semester discussing sacraments and various vices and virtues. The following year we spend half of the second semester being introduced to every book of the Orthodox Bible.
The structure of an average class is broken up between timeline and word of the day. Over two years we attempt to memorize 100 dates from creation to present. This gives students a basic framework for history to build upon. We again emphasize an Orthodox and also a North American perspective on the dates chosen for the timeline. Several dates will be covered each class, preceded or followed by the word of the day, a topic which covers in-depth the concepts and terms mentioned previously.
This is an introductory course for grades 5 and up, so we do not expect them to master the material but to be introduced to it. Some concepts will take years of life experience to grasp more fully, and some topics, we admittedly explain to the students, will never be fully grasped. We are here to teach our students about God.
Our text is the Orthodox Study Bible. There is no assigned reading outside of class; students do the bulk of the reading in class. They are to participate in discussion and creating definitions of words and they are to take down handwritten notes of these definitions and timeline dates.
For homework, students are to give a narration to family members of what they learned in class. A three-paragraph essay on a timeline date or word of the day is the midterm, and at the end of each semester an oral exam is given on the last day of class. Students will be asked several questions from the timeline and from the list of terms covered that semester.
- The Orthodox Study Bible
- The Prologue of Ochrid (available online here)
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Father Nikolai Meyers is a native of Southern California. He holds a bachelor of arts in Bible and cross-cultural ministry from Manhattan Christian College, Manhattan, KS. He earned his master of divinity from St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Cannon, PA. He was ordained deacon in September of 2007 by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese at St. Tikhon Monastery in South Cannon, PA, and to the holy priesthood in July of 2008 by His Eminence at St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA. He served 6 years as assistant pastor of St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis, TN, and concurrently was the priest in charge of the St. Paul Orthodox Mission in Tupelo, MS. Since October of 2014 he has served as the pastor of St. George Orthodox Church in New Hartford, NY. He also currently is the spiritual adviser for Teen SOYO in the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada, and Upstate New York. He is married and has 4 children.
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use.
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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