On Monday, 1 June 2020, His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas presented his vision for religious education in the United Kingdom and Ireland and officially inaugurated the Religious Education Committee. This important new committee of the Archdiocese will be responsible for the creation of a formal, standardised Archdiocesan Religious Education ministry for all age-groups. The work of the committee will be completed in phases, with the goal of having a complete functioning ministry by early 2022. The new religious Education Committee is composed of thirty individuals with diverse ages and backgrounds and includes clergy, religious educators, primary and secondary school teachers, theologians, university professors, and other professionals.
During the first meeting of the committee, His Eminence thanked the members for responding faithfully to the call of the Church and for offering their time and talents for the building up of the Body of Christ. In his opening remarks, particular emphasis was placed on the critical need to enthusiastically cultivate the Orthodox Faith in our children, young people, and adults. His Eminence tasked the committee with three challenges: to create contextual catechetical materials for children and adults, to identify and engage volunteer adult catechists, and to establish educational settings, both at the parishes of the Archdiocese and online.
Understanding the magnitude of such an endeavour and foreseeing its complexities, His Eminence established three sub-committees and appointed their respective chairpersons, so that they would share their findings and preliminary assessments of the current situation at the inaugural meeting. The three sub-committees and their chairpersons are:
- Preparation of Orthodox Educational Curriculum for Primary and Secondary Level Students. Chair: Miss Marina Robb
- Evaluating Potential Clusters of Sunday Schools & Identifying, Engaging, and Training Volunteer Teachers. Chair: Presbytera Vassilia Hookway
- Adult Religious Education: Re-evangelisation and Preparation of Catechism Materials. Chair: Dr. Dimitris Salapatas
Following the presentations of the aforementioned chairpersons, the committee members agreed to: establish a timeline listing well-specified and attainable goals, to meet on the first Monday of every month, to allow the sub-committees to work independently in between monthly meetings, and to pursue efficient, creative, and dynamic ways to respond to the many challenges and meet the goals of the three aforementioned sub-committees.
A protocol was also established concerning the spiritual and institutional responsibilities of the committee members as well as the required code of conduct, safeguarding, and statutory requirements within which all are to work and are expected to uphold at all times. His Eminence stressed that all measures concerning the safety of our committee members, parishioners, and volunteers concerning the required DBS and Safeguarding procedures are to be implemented and strictly followed.
His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain and the Archdiocesan Religious Education Committee request the prayers and spiritual support of the clergy and faithful, so that this committee and its important work may come to a successful completion. Secondly, the faithful are requested to discern ways in which they can assist, when eventually called upon, at their local parish. Those who feel called to assist in other ways or would like to provide recommendations concerning religious education are encouraged to contact the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nephon Tsimalis directly at: Ntsimalis@gmail.com.