Thursday, August 04, 2005

Not all religions afraid of Potter
Vacation Bible schools are usually pretty staid affairs, but St. John's Episcopal Church in Carlisle is tapping into popular culture this year by inviting "Harry Potter" to help teach lessons behind the scriptures.
"The way I look at it, you have to reach out to people where they are," says the Rev. Robyn Szoke, the associate rector at St. John's. "Our children are reading the Harry Potter books in record numbers. It gives us a real avenue to journey alongside them and helps them reflect on God."The program — called "Wizards and Wonders" — is based on a curriculum developed a few years ago when Szoke worked in the children's ministry of the Episcopal Church's national office."We updated the curriculum to incorporate elements from the new Harry Potter book," she says, "and we also adapted it to our particular vacation Bible school. Throughout the week, we're focusing on the heroes in our lives and on making good choices and Harry will be using a Bible as his guide."

Szoke noted that Rowling is an Anglican and Szoke sees the influences of her religious heritage throughout the series."Really, the links to scripture are really amazingly easy to make in Harry Potter's world," she says.
Szoke says the Harry Potter curriculum was selected by the whole parish."I presented four different options as part of a regular series of parent-teacher teas, and then everyone in the parish who was interested voted on the final selection," she explains. "Harry Potter won and it wasn't even close.""Wizards and Wonders" has proven popular so far.

**For the whole article, go to The Sentinel Online

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