A.G.A.P.E. (Appreciating God-Given Abilities of Persons with Exceptionalities): Exceptional Student Education Modified Sunday School Curriculum

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

Beloved Stewards,

It is my pleasure to introduce the A.G.A.P.E. modified Sunday school curriculum specifically designed by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States for our children with special needs. Agape means ‘love’ in Coptic. Based on love, A.G.A.P.E. is the acronym used for this curriculum—Appreciating God-Given Abilities of Persons with Exceptionalities. Every child in our churches deserves an opportunity to learn, socialize with peers, and enjoy a variety of activities in a wholesome Christian environment. It is incumbent upon us as servants to recognize different abilities and strategize the most effective means in order to meet all of our children’s needs. Every person is precious in the sight of our loving God. Individuals requiring exceptional student education are part of our church family and must also be integrated in every aspect of our communities. I encourage all of our stewards, especially the servants dedicated to serving this special population, to use this material and to continue to learn more about serving our children with special needs, providing support to their families, and educating all others.

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

May God reward you with heavenly blessings for your love, compassion, and dedicated service to His children.

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States