The OCSA and Hope for the Future of Christian Education

orthodox-schools-assoc-logoIn an effort to close out the year with some good news, Yours Truly was pointed in the direction of The Orthodox Christian School Association (OCSA), one of the new ministries operating under the aegis of the Episcopal Assembly. I offer it to you unedited. Please keep this fine group in your prayers and if possible, contribute to their efforts. Future generations depend on it.

Read the companion document: The Seven Traits of a Truly Orthodox School by Dr. David Hicks, founding member of the Orthodox Christian School Association.

As the year ends, we review the past year, and look to the future. For our faith, for our culture, and for our country, our future lies with our children. The values that we inculcate in our children as members of the Body of Christ will be reflected in faith, culture and country.And each of these will be an arena, an area of contest. The popular culture is powerful and its inertia inexorable. Moreover, the popular culture at best ignores, and more often is antagonistic to the values we as Orthodox Christians hold. The relativistic, often nihilistic worldviews to which our children are exposed give them little direction and precious little hope. Our children’s education is key to their ability to think critically, and more importantly, to apply the values and morals of the faith when confronted by a world with very different values and priorities.

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But how can this be done? On average, a child attending Liturgy and Sunday school might be formally exposed to Orthodox teachings perhaps 500 hours per year. Our school systems have access to these malleable minds for, on average, 16,000 hours/year. Who, then,has the inside track on instilling a values system in our children?

A number of educators who are Orthodox have been pursuing this question, and have been sharing their answers among themselves through the Orthodox Christian School Association. This association seeks to support the creation and growth of primary and secondary Orthodox schools bringing the light of Christ to America. The organization is pan Orthodox in nature. The OCSA has been developing tools to assist in the starting of Orthodox schools, most recently releasing a “School start up Handbook,” as well as providing consulting and encouragement to those accepting the challenge of planting an Orthodox school in their community.

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As the year comes to an end, the OCSA is conducting a fundraising effort to bring the organization to the next level in its ability to support both Orthodox school startups as well as existing schools. The OCSA has been issued a challenge matching grant by the Farah Foundation, which has long been a supporter of the OCSA and its mission. As of this writing,the Association lacks $15,000 in contributions to meet the grant challenge by year end. As you consider your year end charitable giving, please consider supporting the OCSA . Their website is www.orthodoxschools.org, and your tax deductible contribution can be made via PayPal.Below is a talk given at an OCSA conference by Dr. David Hicks. Dr. Hicks, one of the founding members of the OCSA, was headmaster of St. Marks School of Dallas and is currently the chief academic officer for Meritas. He discusses 7 traits of Orthodox schools, and lays out a vision of an educational structure designed to allow our children to be fully formed Christians standing strong in the buffeting winds of the popular culture of our time.

The formation of the souls of our children is inextricably linked to the education they are given.St Theophan the recluse, in his book, The Path to Salvation stated that “Of all holy works,education of the children is the most holy…” and “every kind of learning which is taught to a Christian should be penetrated with Christian principles and, more precisely, Orthodox ones.”Please help the Orthodox Christian School Association with your contribution atwww.orthodoxschools.org.]

I did.

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Comments

  1. lexcaritas says:

    Thank you, George. You are exactly right: <>

    And this doesn’t take into account the other often sinister influences such as telelvision, video games and contemporary “music” and the peer pressure that swirls around it all.

    David’s piece is beautiful. I have been impressed each time I have read it since originally hearing it at the OCSA’s founding conference going on seven years ago. Check out the website, where there is nice list of classical Christian educations resources and useful links.

    Christ is born.
    lxc

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  2. Gail Sheppard says:

    I think Orthodox schools are wonderful. – What people may underestimate is the value in the teaching that comes with just being present during Liturgy. I never mind the occasional outburst of a child. In fact, I consider it a privilege to be in the presence of a soul unfolding. Discipline and love for God permeates their very being as they grow. One year, it brought tears to my eyes to see two of our little girls (ages 6 or 7 maybe) yell, “Seal him,” with such conviction during a baptism. How spectacular is that?!!!

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  3. George Michalopulos says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, Gail. I think it’s vital for all children to be in Liturgy. Any minor caterwauling is a blessing. “Suffer not the little children to come unto me…”

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  4. I would like to put in a good word not only for this organization, but also for the many families across the U.S. who prayerfully, and with financial sacrifice, maintain Orthodox Christian homeschools for their families. An outside Orthodox school is not always available or affordable, so these families provide the necessary academic education for their children combined with an Orthodox Christian worldview and an Orthodox lifestyle. I pray that good-quality Orthodox parochial schools will increase in number, as well as that Orthodox homeschooling will increase. Each option offers valuable opportunities.

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Antonia, as a parent who homeschooled my son with my late wife, I thank you. At the time we did it, we were considered somewhat beyond the pale as we were the first in our parish. Such activity was not looked upon with favor by higher-ups in my jurisdiction at the time.

      That has changed, thank God, but let no one think that Orthodox education will make things easy for our children. Such education, either in parochial schools or at home, sets them at odds with our culture and our society. It is not a path to worldly success or simply an alternative method.

      Anyone who homeschools needs to join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association because in some states homeschooling parents are regarded with a great deal of suspicion by the legal and educational establishments.

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      • Thank you, Michael. This is our nineteenth consecutive year of homeschooling (four children).

        We never have joined the HSLDA, however. They defend only whatever cases further their own various agenda, and ignore other families that have true need. Membership fees often are given to support other organizations supported by HSLDA, a bait-and-switch tactic I reject. There is (or once was) a website explaining how the HSLDA truly operates. We have trusted God, instead, and everything has gone well, even to thankfully receiving the blessing of college scholarships.

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        • Michael Bauman says:

          Antonia, thank you for your insight. I am disappointed in the increasing ideological bent of the HSLDA, but always thought they did their best for everybody.

          My family was fortunate to live in a jurisdiction that leaves homeschoolers alone for the most part. That is not always the case. My brother homeschooled in Massachusetts for a awhile some 30 years ago and he had to do quite dance with the local school authorities.

          One needs to be as gentle as a dove and yet as wise as a serpent because there are bureaucrats out there who are out to get the homeschool folk anyway they can.

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          • Tim R. Mortiss says:

            My state, Washington, is not hostile to homeschooling, and there has by now been built up strong support structures for homeschoolers, including courses, texts, and regularly scheduled group classes. Indeed, these organizations also provide social opportunities, pizza parties, dances and proms and the like.

            My middle daughter homeschooled their five children. By middle school, they were half-time homeschooled and half in public school, particularly for music and mathematics. They went to public high school full-time. The system worked very well, but the dedication and discipline of my daughter for all those years was immense.

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            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              One of my grandsons was just elected President of the freshman class at a local public high school. As they are saying about him– not bad for a homeschooled kid!

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      • Oh dear. I voted thumbs up for Mr Bauman’s statement about homeschooling and it went thumbs down! Please change if possible Mr. M. Thank you.

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  5. Liberal Christianity: A movement that seeks to retain religious and spiritual values of Christianity while discounting the infallible authority of the Bible. Its origins are in the German Enlightenment, notably in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the religious views of Friedrich Schleiermacher. Liberals reject the stated authorship and historical accuracy of many books of the Bible. They are skeptical concerning many or all of the biblical miracles, preferring naturalistic explanations or viewing miracle accounts as legend or myth. They often deny or reinterpret in mythical terms such doctrines of orthodox Christianity as the virgin birth, atoning death, and even the resurrection of Jesus . Liberalism has been most influential in mainline Protestant denominations and is rejected in Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity.

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  6. Elbert,

    Liberal Christianity has morphed. It no longer seeks to retain the religious and spiritual values of Christianity, if it ever did. Now it retains the outward shell of Christian terminology and ritual while gutting its meaning and replacing it with the ideological propaganda of progressive liberalism. It is nothing more or less than apostasy.

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  7. In Stamford Hill, a small Haredi community that had lived in the area since the end of the 19th century was swollen dramatically by the influx of pre-war refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. The population has grown with arrivals from Israel and America. Now within a tight geographical area, little more than a square mile, there are no fewer than 74 synagogues, or shuls, 32 orthodox schools, kosher supermarkets, butchers, fishmongers and a multitude of other businesses.

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