Source: Orthodox Church in America
SYOSSET, NY [DCE] While the late Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko was working on the revised edition of his four-volume series, The Orthodox Faith, he decided that adding discussion questions to the texts would enhance the books’ usefulness. Subsequently, he asked the Orthodox Church in America’s Department of Christian Education [DCE] to develop study resources/questions for each volume.
“Father Thomas especially wanted the History volume to include questions because it is the longest one and is the most thoroughly revised and expanded, through his efforts and those of Dr. David C. Ford of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary,” said Matushka Valerie Zahirsky, DCE Chairperson. “The volume offers a great deal of material, and questions can help readers review and mentally organize the information it presents.”
DCE members have developed 109 questions for the 20-chapter volume, which spans the Church’s history from the first to the 20th and into the 21st centuries. Each question is keyed to the text’s page numbers, while answers are provided in a separate document.
“Several answers also offer points for reflection, to take the reader a little deeper into the facts presented in the book,” Matushka Valerie added. “For example, an answer to a question in the first chapter dispels the false notion that the early Christians were attracted to the new faith because they were all poor, desperate people who therefore welcomed Christianity’s ‘pie in the sky’ promises.
“The questions and answers can be used as a review of each chapter, but they might also give members of a reading group things to look for before they begin a chapter,” said Matushka Valerie. “For example, a group leader might ask members reading about the third and fourth centuries to find three ways in which baptism today is like baptism in that early period, or to describe how what we know as the ‘weekend’ came about. In reading about the 20th century, they might be asked to identify the most thoroughly Orthodox nation in the world, to find out what was notable about Archbishop John, a former head of the Orthodox Church in Finland, or to name the language in which Archbishop Theophan Noli celebrated the Liturgy for the first time anywhere in the world.”
The resources also may be used in conjunction with other materials available from the DCE.
“For example, a question about the 18th century refers to the respect with which the missionaries to Alaska treated the indigenous people and their customs,” Matushka Valerie explained. “Readers can find out more about this in the DCE’s activity book, Saints of North America and also by using the captioned life icons and life stories of three of these missionary saints. Similarly, a question about the 20th century refers to Saint Nicholas, the Enlightener of Japan, about whom readers can find an informative account of his life, a photograph and a map of his travels in the DCE’s activity book, Saints Commemorated in the Litiya Prayers.”
Similar study guides are being prepared by DCE staff members for the series’ other three volumes.