Brethren Press managing editor James Deaton (right, shown at center) attended the 2021 annual meeting of the Committee on the Uniform Lessons Series (CUS). The series is a basis for Bible study curriculum used in common by many denominations and publishing partners. Deaton attended on behalf of the Church of the Brethren publishing house, which uses the adult curriculum outlines for A Guide for Biblical Studies. He also is a member of the Adult Age‐Level Team, which reviews the development of the curriculum outlines for adults and creates teaching strategies.
Following is an excerpt from the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) release about the meeting held March 2-3:
Typically, representatives of the 25 denominational and publishing partners gather in person to make business decisions, review and vote to approve previous work on the Guide to Lessons and Home Daily Bible Readings, write and collaborate on new curriculum outlines, as well as worship and fellowship together. This year, the 30 registered participants signed on to Zoom from time zones across the US and Puerto Rico and from as far away as Nigeria.
Those who gathered can proudly trace the first Uniform Lesson Outlines to 1872 when the International Sunday School Association wrote their first plan to systematically study the Bible.
A liturgy led by Garland F. Pierce, chair of the committee and executive director of the Department of Christian Education of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, reflected on Jesus clearing the Temple courts in John 2:13-22. Jesus’ anger was inspired by the exclusion that was happening in God’s house, he explained. The money changers’ tables and the marketplace left little room for true worship. And Jesus’ life was about making room for all. As followers of Christ, as Christian educators, making room is also the goal of the CUS.
This opening reflection set the tone for the conference’s focus on elevating and exegeting scripture in service of the spiritual care and faith formation of learners across the life-span.
Dennis Edwards, associate professor of New Testament at North Park University, supported the conference objectives with his two lectures “Core Beliefs of the Christian Faith” and “Social Teachings of the Bible.” These lecture titles were drawn from lesson outlines that the 2021 conference participants will use for their upcoming writing assignments. There is an added historical element to this year’s assignment in that these same texts are included in the 1929-30 CUS outlines.
This is one of the ways that CUS has chosen to recognize its upcoming sesquicentennial anniversary. In considering “core beliefs” and “social issues” that faithful Christians confronted in the early 1900s, the 2021 conference participants give fresh consideration for how the church is bringing Christ to bear in their own day and time.
Substantial business was also conducted at this year’s meeting, including the vote to approve the six-year proposed outline for Cycle 25 (Fall 2026 through Summer 2032). The cycle theme is “We Have a Story to Tell.”
La Verne Tolbert, chair of the Scope and Sequence Committee tasked with developing Cycle 25, and vice president, editorial of Urban Ministries Inc., explained, “Rather than imposing themes on the texts, Cycle 25 lets the Bible speak through the characters, circumstances, setting, and events of the Old and New Testaments.”
Developing curriculum outlines for the study of the Bible has been the work of the CUS for 149 years. While they look forward to celebrating the committee’s 150th anniversary next year, they continue to trust all that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in their midst–whether in person or in cyberspace. The Uniform Lessons stand as a witness to their unity in Christ, and their commitment both to bring and to teach Christ’s countercultural message in a broken world.
–Read the full release at https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/committee-on-the-uniform-lessons-series-annual-meeting-held-online.
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