An Open Letter to the Sunday School Department of the Indian Orthodox Church by the OBL Forum

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Orthodoxy Beyond Limits Forum members write an open Letter to the Sunday School Department of the Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Dr. Yacob Iranaeus
Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association of the East (OSSAE)

OVBS 2010- Some Reflections

We take this opportunity to congratulate the team of OVBS (Orthodox Christian Vacation Bible School) 2010 in the improvement made over the previous year. Yet let me express certain constraints observed as I am curious over the future of Orthodoxy in India. These observations are not to undermine the pain, energy and hard work behind designing, creating and delivering a curriculum for OVBS 2010, but to emphasize that each point could have been far greater had team leadership been more professional.

Our immediate concern is over two topics

1.The Theme v/s drawing
2.Selection of people of greatness

The Theme v/s drawing

The drawing itself is mundane and ugly. Picture or a drawing is a comfortable media to explain an idea explicitly. The drawing drawn in accordance with the Biblical verse does not convey or reveal itself of the meaning. The ‘iconography’ is depicting a middle aged lady as the protagonist in a theme for children’s catechism mars the show. When the poster of OVBS 2010 was exhibited, we asked few adults and few children whether they could explain the meaning of the drawing. To our astonishment none could give the answer correctly.

A drawing is a representative of idea in life. A drawing should reveal and convey an idea effectively. We reserve our comment on the aesthetics.

Introducing Great People (Selection of people of Greatness)

There are eight lives given for senior students, one belongs to 4th century and rests are from modern age. Six lives are very familiar through text books or through supplementary readings. There are only two from Orthodox. While I take no prejudice against any of these great people, we could have spared this for Orthodox Greatness.

Among the general public Roman Catholic is Christianity, even above average knows only Roman Catholic and Protestant mainly and evangelists for their sound and fury, Orthodox Church comes nowhere. Should we not take an effort to alter this, teaching our children of our greatness, tradition and of our Saints and great men?

Unless the Church take initiative in imparting Orthodox Identity and introduce Orthodox faith and Patristic Traditions among our children, the future will definitely be at crossroads.


When Orthodox Church conduct a course for their children during summer vacation the attribute should focus to impart Orthodox faith among them keeping the Trinitarian Centrality and perception. We need not be secular. Hence selection of these great lives should have been from Orthodox world.
Incidentally American Orthodox Church is changing the name to Orthodox Church Vacation School to distance itself from others.

Now it is a suggestion that we introduce our great Laity who strived for strengthening Malankara Orthodox Church and our men of importance, past and present. Tradition is the sum total of the past strength of the past people carried over.

It is a fact that ten days OVBS experience of the children brings them nearer to Church than any other teaching. If the mode is made into a camp life it would have been still more effective.

It is a matter of inquiry and study how the parishioners take OVBS. My interaction reveals that families give much importance to OVBS and they take it seriously. Voluntary contributions to OVBS are a signal to this consideration. Even a small Parish generate around Rs20000/- for the exclusive use of OVBS.

If we are serious about OVBS, it is a research for 365 days. Each year a new team should prepare the courses. Our planning should be at least two years ahead.

But we need professionalism supported by pedagogical approach to subjects, quality books and teaching materials, imaginative drawings and innovative methods. We have resources, we have talents, FIND them, INVITE them, they are willing to be part of any programme or project.

In Christ

Members of the OBL Forum (Orthodoxy Beyond Limits Forum)

Copy to
Rev Fr O Thomas
Director General
Orthodox Syrian Sunday School Association of the East (OSSAE)