Sunday School Class Explores Buddhism

May 2, 2009

Author: Dana Clark Felty

Source: The Buddhist Channel/Savannah Now,8095,0,0,1,0

Six-year-old Cayden Somers was rolling on the floor, jumping across the room and bouncing off the walls on Sunday as his Sunday school teacher prepared her lesson in the next room.

The energy soon transferred to 5-year-old Savana Kaufman and 6-year-old Dorothy Neal who jumped from side to side giggling hysterically.

Just as it seemed all hell would break loose, teacher Chris Neal entered the room and placed a small metal cylinder on the floor.

The children dropped to their knees and stared in awe.

The shiny object, Neal explained, is a prayer wheel used in the Buddhist religion. Inside the wheel are paper scrolls on which prayers are written.

"The Buddhists believe that spinning the wheels actually releases the prayers into the world," Neal said. "Now, we're going to release prayers into the world, too."

The lesson is part of Neal's Sunday school series "Buddhism for Kids" at the Unitarian Universalist Beloved Community Church.

It's the latest program at the church aimed at teaching children about faith through the lens of other religions, said Neal, the church's director of religious education.

"The bigger picture is not just about acquiring the knowledge about how different religions think about the big questions but how much they're all the same," said Neal who also teaches art history at the Savannah College of Art and Design. "It really all boils down- at least for Unitarian Universalists- to one thing, and that's, in essence, that they're all more alike than they are different."