Electives
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Electives

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Altar Server

Serving in the altar is a special responsibility for young Orthodox Christians. It is a privilege that must be continually earned, respected, and desired. Altar servers perform a variety of functions determined by the Rector of his senior Altar servers. For this reason, the Altar Server requirements may change from parish to parish.


Only the Rector, or his delegate, may sign off on this elective


Task 1. Serve in the altar for a minimum of three months
Task 2. Show up early for services at which you will serve
Task 3. Follow the directions of the Rector and senior altar servers

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Angels

The angels were created by God to help keep the Cosmos in order. There are nine ranks of angels, divided into three orders. Each Rank of angel has a specific set of responsibilities. The term “angel” means “messenger” and is used both to describe the 1st rank of the angelic host, or as a general term which may include any, or all, of the angelic ranks.


Task 1. Read The Celestial Hierarchy by Michael Merten

  • a. This can be found in Appendix G

Task 2. List the angels by rank and describe which order they fall into e.g. Lower, Middle, Upper
Task 3. Describe the general function of each rank of angel
Task 4. List, and talk about, at least three appearances of angels in the Bible

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Bible Verses I

Memorizing Bible verses is a good way to stimulate your mind and help you find certain stories or events within scripture. For instance, knowing that the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept” is in John 11:35 tells you that the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is close to that verse. Also, having a favorite verse can sometimes bring comfort in times of loss or confusion, or gratitude in times of joy.


Task 1. Memorize 5 verses from scripture.

  • a. Pick your own or select them from Appendix C – Bible Verses
  • b. Read the verses around the one you’re going to memorize in order to understand the context of your selected verse

Task 2. Recite your verses to your mentor, naming the Book of the Bible, Chapter number, and verse number
Task 3. Pick a favorite verse and tell your mentor why you like it

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Bible Verses II

Prerequisite Bible Verses I


Task 1. Memorize 7 verses from scripture

  • a. These will be in addition to the verses memorized earlier for a total of 12
  • b. Pick your own or select them from Appendix C – Bible Verses
  • c. Read the verses around the one you’re going to memorize in order to understand the context of your selected verse

Task 2. Recite your verses to your mentor, naming the Book of the Bible, Chapter number, and verse number
Task 3. Pick a favorite verse and tell your mentor why you like it

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Bible Verses III

Prerequisite: Bible Verses II


Task 1. Memorize 8 verses from scripture

  • a. These will be in addition to the verses memorized earlier for a total of 20
  • b. Pick your own or select them from Appendix C – Bible Verses
  • c. Read the verses around the one you’re going to memorize in order to understand the context of your selected verse

Task 2. Recite your verses to your mentor, naming the Book of the Bible, Chapter number, and verse number
Task 3. Pick a favorite verse and tell your mentor why you like it

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Buildings and Grounds

In the Book of Exodus, after leading the Israelites out of Egypt, God directed Moses to have the people erect a tabernacle (tent) in which to worship the Lord. The directions were very specific, as were the instructions on how to sanctify the tabernacle and how to conduct services within it. Later Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem to similar specifications, and “the glory of the Lord filled the house” (3 Kngdm 8:10). Orthodox Churches are also built using a similar model, and are often referred to as “temples.” Keeping our temple in order requires continual maintenance and attention, both inside and out. Parishes usually have an individual, or a committee, that is responsible for ensuring that our temple is an appropriate venue for our Lord to dwell.


Task 1. Find out who does the maintenance for your church building and grounds
Task 2. Attend at least three work parties to assist with building and grounds maintenance
Task 3. Locate the emergency equipment in your church building(s)

  • a. Fire extinguishers
  • b. Automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • c. First aid kit

Task 4. Find out where the water and power shut-offs for your building(s) are located
Task 5. Identify 3 items that need maintenance/checked throughout the year

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Choir Member

The Choir Member pin is awarded for singing in the parish choir for at least three months.
Only the Choir Director, or his/her delegate, can sign off on this elective.
Electives www.Heavenly-Host.com First Edition
Requirements


Attendance
Task 1. Be an active member of the choir for at least three months


Musical Notation
Task 2. Know the meaning of the musical notations found in Appendix D – Musical Notation

 

Order of Services

Task 3. Be familiar with the order of the Vespers Service (and the books):

  • a. See Appendix E – Order of Vespers

Task 4. Be familiar with the order of the Divine Liturgy (and the books):

  • a. See Appendix F – Order of Divine Liturgy

Following the Choir Director
Task 5. Demonstrate the ability to:

  • a. Take a pitch
  • b. Determine the next musical piece
  • c. Follow tempo and volume directions
  • d. Sing your part alone
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Christianity in the Arts

As far back as the 1st century after our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven there were letters (epistles) and books (Gospels) written. The Evangelist Luke is credited with the first icons, but there were likely other paintings of religious figures as well. Throughout the centuries artists in every medium have relayed, revised, and sometimes reviled our Christian beliefs. There are seven general categories of art: Painting, Sculpture, Literature, Architecture, Cinema, Theater, and Music. This elective is intended to provide a broad introduction to two or more of these mediums.


Task 1. Write a paper reviewing the types of media (minimum of two) that you have chosen to satisfy this elective.

  • a. Describe what you selected, what you liked about it, and what you didn’t
  • b. Note anything that you thought might be scripturally inaccurate or not in keeping with Orthodox Christian beliefs

Task 2. Select at least two of the media categories and explore, watch, or listen to them, for a minimum of five hours

  • a. Visit websites about religious or Christian art and look at, and read about, some of the paintings
    This elective is intended to give a broad spectrum of familiarity with various
    mediums, so the tasks to be accomplished are varied and somewhat vague.
    There are so many ways online to see art, including video tours, YouTube
    videos, and specific websites fo r each topic. Five hours of total exposure to the
    various mediums is adequate, with another hour or so to write up the notes.
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Electives www.Heavenly-Host.com First Edition
    • i. Suggested: The Last Supper (da Vinci), the Sistine Chapel (Michelangelo et. al.),
      Madonna of the Book (Botticelli), Christ crucified (Velazquez)
    • ii. Note: Orthodox Iconography is covered in another elective
  • b. Visit a website about religious sculpture
    • i. Suggested: The Pieta (Michelangelo), Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro), Christ
      in the Abyss (Galletti), The Gates of Hell (Rodin)
  • c. Read a religious article or book
    • i. Suggested: any of the lives of the Saints, commentaries on scripture, comparative
      religions, The Protoevangelium of James
  • d. Watch a religious themed movie or television program
    • i. Suggested: The Chosen, The Ten Commandments, Risen,
      Jesus of Nazareth
  • e. Listen to a Podcast concerning Christian topics
    • i. Ancient Faith Radio is an excellent source: Welcome |
      Ancient Faith Ministries
  • f. Review information about Christian architecture
    • i. Suggested: Orthodox Church architecture, Gothic Cathedrals, Byzantine church
      architecture, basilicas
  • g. Google “Christian themed plays” and describe the results you discovered
    • i. Suggested: Listen to some of the music from Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, or
      Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  • h. Go to YouTube, Ancient Faith Radio or broadcast stations and listen to Christian themed
    music
    • i. Suggested: Orthodox Church music, Byzantine chant, Gregorian chant, Gospel
      music, Hymns, Requiems, Oratarios, Christian rock, or Christian rap
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Falling Asleep in the Lord         

“I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come” as stated in the Nicene Creed states the Orthodox belief in life after death, At Pascha we sing about how the Risen Lord has “trampled down death by death,” and talk about “how death can no longer hold men captive. Orthodox Christians do not believe that death is the destruction or permanent end of a person, but rather that death in this world begins
our transition to the life of the world to come.

  • Read the article The Christian Concept of Death by Fr. Alexander Schmemann in Appendix K
  • On the website for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA.org) navigate to Fr. Thomas Hopko’s
    The Orthodox Faith Volume II and read the chapters on Holy Unction and
                
    https://www.oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-sacraments
  • Discuss the Orthodox belief about death
  • Explain why Orthodox Christians venerate the saints.
  • Discuss why we pray for the dead and why do we ask them to pray for us.
  • Talk to your Rector about relics in your parish.
  • Describe Holy Unction and how it differs from Final Unction (Roman Catholic term).
  • List the services associated with death and discuss their content and occurrence.
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Gospels

“Gospel” means the “good word” and is derived from the term “Godspell” which means
good story, or good news. For Christians the term is used to describe the four books of
the New Testament that describe the life of Jesus Christ.


Task 1. Read the Book of Matthew
Task 2. Read the Book of Mark
Task 3. Read the Book of Luke
Task 4. Read the Book of John
Task 5. Define the term “synoptic” and tell how it relates to the Gospels
Task 6. Record the books you’ve read in the
Holy Bible – New Testament checklist

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Holy Apostles

The term “apostle” means to be sent forth on a mission. Generally, when talking about the Holy Apostles the term describes the 11 disciples that were closest to Christ, who saw him after the Resurrection, and who specifically went forth to proclaim the Gospel. (Sometimes Paul or Matthias are added to make the number of apostles 12). “Holy Apostles” can also refer to the 72 apostles that were sent out two-by-two by the Lord.


Task 1. List the 12 Holy Apostles
Task 2. Tell which of the 12 wrote Gospels
Task 3. Tell which of the 12 wrote Epistles
Task 4. Describe the replacement process for Judas and name the person selected.

  • a. Acts 1:15-26

Task 5. Tell which apostles were Jesus’ nephews, and name their mother
Task 6. Tell which Apostle was the “First called,” and state which of the other Apostles was his brother
Task 7. Name the third pair of brothers among the Apostles
Task 8. Name the Apostle that was a son of Joseph the Betrothed

  • a. By appearances, Jesus’ “brother”

Task 9. Briefly describe where each of the Apostles went on their missionary journeys
Task 10. Talk about how Saul of Tarsus became one of the Apostles

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Iconography

Icons are an important component of Orthodox Christian worship. The Seventh Ecumenical Council, held in Nicaea in 787AD, provided the final and definitive truth on the veneration of icons, describing them as “open books to remind us of God.”  The veneration of icons in the Orthodox Church is not simply an artistic, or aesthetic matter, but is an expression of the nature of Jesus Christ and the entire material universe.

  • Read the article A Summary of Icons by Maryann Mawhinney found in Appendix J
  • Explain the difference between “worship” and” veneration”
  • Make a line drawing of your parish’s iconostasis and label all of the icons on it
  • Find the icon of your parish’s Patron Saint in the church
  • Find an icon of your Patron Saint in the church
  • Find the 12 Feast Day icons in your church
  • Name three objects or colors that have specific meaning in icons
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New Testament

The New Testament refers to the four Gospels, the Book of Acts, 21 epistles and the Revelation of John the Divine written in the first century after the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When New Testament authors refer to the “scriptures” they are not referring to the New Testament, but rather to the Old Testament.


Prerequisite: Gospels Elective


Task 1. Read the online article New Testament - OrthodoxWiki
Task 2. Read all of the books of the New Testament that you have not previously read
Task 3. Record the books you’ve read in the Holy Bible – New Testament checklist

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Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed (Creed) is the foundational statement of belief for the Orthodox Church. Many Christian churches ascribe to the entire creed, or to portions of it. In some cases, there is only an iota (Greek letter i) of difference between the Creeds. But as you’ll see, that single letter difference has great significance.


Task 1. Recite the Nicene Creed from memory
Task 2. Read the Symbol of Faith chapter of Fr. Thomas Hopko’s The Orthodox Faith series, Volume I - Doctrine and Scripture

  • a. This series is available online at the OCA.org website under the tab the Orthodox Faith
    • i. The Symbol of Faith is comprised of 19 chapters which analyze the Creed

Task 3. Discuss, in broad terms, at least two of the heresies addressed by the Creed
Task 4. Define the term “Trinitarian”
Task 5. Define the terms “homoousias” and “homoiousias” and state which one the Creed supports

  • a. Note the difference between the two words is an “i” or in Greek an iota

Task 6. Define the term “filioque” and know the Orthodox belief concerning it

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Old Testament

The Orthodox version of the Old Testament is based on the Septuagint and has more books than the Protestant and Roman Catholic versions. There are also some differences in the names of the books, (such as 1 – 4 Kingdoms instead of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings). This requirement should be completed using the Orthodox Study Bible which that has the extra books that the Orthodox Church uses. These are:


1 – 3 Maccabees Tobit Judith 1&2 Ezdras (instead of Ezra)
Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom of Sirach Epistle of Jeremiah Baruch
Prerequisite – Complete the requirements for the Psalms I, II, & III, Pentateuch, & Proverbs Electives


Task 1. Read the Overview of the Books of the Bible in the Orthodox Study Bible
Task 2. Read the remainder of the Old Testament

  • a. Note: throughout the Bible are many genealogies and lists of names. Although these are important to Biblical scholars, they can be tedious for the first-time reader. When you get to these sections try to, at least, pronounce the names, if only in your head. This will keep you from simply skipping long portions of scripture and may aid in pronunciation should you ever find yourself reading the passages aloud.

Task 3. Record the books you’ve read in the Holy Bible – Old Testament checklist

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Pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is a journey taken to visit a person, place, or object of spiritual significance and for spiritual benefit. For example, a visit to a monastery, seminary, special icon, or to venerate relics of the saints. Not everyone can make a trip to the Holy Land, but there are many local places and objects worthy of veneration.

  • Talk to your parents and priest to determine a reasonable destination for your
  • Research the object/place that you intend to visit to learn its spiritual significance.
  • Visit the item/place and pay attention to what you see and feel.
  • Write a summary of your pilgrimage and share it with your mentor.
    1. Tell where you went and what you saw.
    2. Provide a brief history of the place/object.
    3. Briefly describe the spiritual significance of your pilgrimage destination.
    4. Talk about your spiritual reaction to the object/place of your pilgrimage.
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Paschal Season

During Lent Orthodox Christians are encouraged to increase their prayers, almsgiving and fasting. Attendance at services is beneficial in helping to create and maintain an appropriate mindset in Preparation for the Feast of Feasts. The following requirements are intended as a guide to improved spirituality.


Task 1. Services

  • a. Attend at least one each of the following services:
    • i. Canon of St. Andrew
    • ii. Presanctified Liturgy
    • iii. Bridegroom Matins
    • iv. Holy Friday
    • v. Pascha

Task 2. Go to Confession
Task 3. Prayer

  • a. Add a prayer to your daily routine for at least 7 days.

Task 4. Fasting

  • a. Add something to your rule of fasting, or reduce your screen time.

Task 5. Almsgiving

  • a. From your own money, give to a person or organization.
  • b. Read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt. https://www.stmaryofegypt.com/maryofegypt
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Patron Saint

Patron Saints are heavenly advocates and intercessors for a person, church, nation, or some group of people. Sometimes the word Patroness, or Matron is used to describe female saints, but Patron saint covers both genders, much as the word mankind does. At Baptism or Chrismation, every Orthodox Christian takes the name of a saint, and is expected to venerate that saint. The saint is a heavenly intercessor and protector who prays on behalf of the protected person or group. Everyone should have some familiarity with the life and special qualities of their Patron Saint. Sometimes saints are closely tied together and are venerated as a group as well as individuals, such as Holy Apostles, Boris and Gleb, or the Archangels.

 

Task 1. Research your Patron Saint and learn about his/her life.

  • a. Note: For some saints there is very little information available. If this is the case for your Patron Saint, select another saint that you admire.

Task 2. Write a paper summarizing your Patron Saint.

  • a. Include when they lived, miraculous events, feast day, special qualities, and the connection you have to them.
  • b. Provide some sources so that others can learn about your saint.

Task 3. Find an icon that portrays the saint you’ve selected.
Task 4. Know the Patron Saint(s) of your parish and a little bit about him/her/them.

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Pentateuch

The term Pentateuch, or Torah, is used to describe the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, what Christians call the Old Testament. The authorship is generally attributed to Moses. The Pentateuch consists of the following five books:


⚫Genesis ⚫Exodus ⚫Leviticus ⚫Numbers ⚫Deuteronomy


Task 1. Describe the meaning of the name Pentateuch.
Task 2. Name the books of the Pentateuch.
Task 3. Read Genesis.
Task 4. Read Exodus.
Task 5. Read Leviticus.
Task 6. Read Numbers.
Task 7. Read Deuteronomy.
Task 8. Record the books you’ve read in the Holy Bible – Old Testament checklist.

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Proverbs

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10). Proverbs is thought to be the foundation for the Beatitudes (Mt 5). In the first nine chapters, the wisdom of God is personified as a companion of God from the beginning and is revealed in the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Define the word “proverb”


Task 1. Read the Proverbs of Solomon.
Task 2. Select two proverbs that you particularly like and discuss them with your mentor.

  • a. Tell why these were meaningful to you.

Task 3. Record the book you’ve read in the Holy Bible – Old Testament checklist.

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Psalms I

The Psalms are the basis for many of the Hymns we sing during services, and you will recognize many of them as you read through them. The Psalms have been in use for centuries in services since King David first began to write them. They are still used extensively throughout Orthodox Churches, other Christian faiths, Jewish worship, and are even revered by Islam. According to Jewish tradition, the Book of Psalms was composed by the First Man (Adam), Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Heman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. The reason that the Psalms are numbered differently between Bibles is that some Bibles use the Masoretic text of the Old Testament, while others use the Septuagint translation. The Orthodox Study Bible uses the Septuagint translation
Task 1. Understand and describe the numbering of the Psalms.
Task 2. Read the first 25 Psalms and record the ones you’ve read in the Holy Bible - Psalms Checklist.

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Psalms II

Prerequisite – Complete the requirements for the Psalms I pin.


Task 1. Read Psalms 26 through 75 and record the ones you’ve read in the Holy Bible - Psalms Checklist.
Task 2. Identify two of the services at which Psalm 50/51 is read.
Task 3. Discuss the meaning of Psalm 50 with your mentor

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Psalms III

Prerequisite – Complete the requirements for the Psalms II pin


Task 1. Read Psalms 76 through 150/151 and record the ones you’ve read in the Holy Bible - Psalms Checklist.
Task 2. Identify one of the services at which Psalm 102/103 is used.
Task 3. Discuss the meaning of Psalm 102/103.

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Psalm 23

The 23rd Psalm (Psalm 22 in the Septuagint numbering) is one of the most widely known Psalms and speaks of how the Lord cares for us as a shepherd does for his sheep. Sheep tend to wander and their shepherd often has to go find them. They are also sought out by many predators, and need to be protected. Sheep eat their pastures to the dirt, including the roots, so that providing green pastures requires a lot of work from the shepherd, as does ensuring a place where there is still water that the sheep can drink safely. Christ refers to the Israelites as being lost sheep in his parables.


Task 1. Find and read an online article that explains the meaning of Psalm 23.
Task 2. Memorize the 23rd Psalm.
Task 3. Recite the 23rd Plasm.
Task 4. Discuss the meaning of the 23rd Psalm.

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Psalm 50

Psalm 50 (51 in the Septuagint numbering) is a Psalm of repentance attributed to King David after his sinning with Bathsheba. It is very widely used in Orthodox worship and is spoken by the Deacon or Priest as they are censing the Church.


Task 1. Find, and read, an online article that explains the meaning of the 50th Psalm.
Task 2. Memorize the 50th Psalm.
Task 3. Recite the 50th Psalm.
Task 4. Discuss the meaning of the 50th Psalm.

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Summer Camp

Attending an Orthodox Summer Camp is a wonderful way for children to meet other Orthodox children, enjoy religious programs, daily church services, outdoor activities, and form lifelong friendships.


Task 1. Attend an Orthodox Summer Camp.

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Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are laws passed from God to Moses to guide the Hebrews in their daily lives. Much of modern law and morale practices are based on these rules.


Task 1. Read Exodus 19:1 through 20:21 which describes Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God.
Task 2. List the Ten Commandments.
Task 3. Tell what happened to the tablets that the Ten Commandments were written on.
Task 4. Read Mark 12:28 – 34 and tell what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments.


Note to Parents:
If you cannot afford to send your child/children to Summer Camp, both your
Parish and Diocese may have programs to help you reduce, or eliminate, the cost. Please talk to your
Rector, Parish Council, or a member of the Diocesan Administration so that your child/children can
benefit from this important ministry of the church.

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The Theotokos

The veneration of the Virgin Mary is extremely important in Orthodox belief. By knowing about Mary we learn more about Jesus Christ. Since she was human, Jesus was human. But since Jesus was also God, Mary became the God-bearer, or in Greek “Theotokos.”


Task 1. Read the article Mary: The Mother of God in appendix H.
Task 2. Define the terms Theotokos and Panagia.
Task 3. Read the Protoevangelium of James.

  • a. This is available online and in a number of books.

Task 4. Read Luke 1:26–45, and John 2:1-12.
Task 5. Discuss the Annunciation, the Visitation to Elizabeth, and the Wedding in Cana and Mary’s role in these stories.
Task 6. Name the Feasts of the Church associated with Mary.
Task 7. Identify services to the Theotokos.
Task 8. Tell the story of the 1st icon of Mary.
Task 9. Give three examples of how Mary was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
Task 10. Describe the difference between Orthodox veneration of Mary and the way the Roman Catholics and Protestants view Mary.
Task 11. Read the sermon by St. Gregory Palamas “On the Mother of God as First to see the Risen Christ” in Appendix I

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Winter Retreat

Attending an Orthodox Winter Retreat provides opportunities for children to establish, or renew, relationships with Orthodox children form many parishes, developing a sense of community within a diocese. They usually combine spiritual, recreational, and educational activities.


Task 1. Attend an Orthodox Winter Retreat

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Women of the Bible

Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, has many lengthy genealogies which follow fathers and their sons (with a few exceptions) through history, but for every man who “begot” a child in scripture, there is a woman who bore the child.  Though often overlooked, there were women involved in every aspect of the story of Israel. In the New Testament, some of those women are mentioned by name in Christ’s genealogies. Starting with Eve, which means the “Mother of all living,” the women of note consist of saviors, judges, queens, harlots, saints, and sinners.

 

 

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