Online boost for confirmation class
Over 70 children and adults in Aberdare have signed up for a local online confirmation class. With digital technology keeping clergy and their congregations connected, one innovative vicar is using Google Classroom to prepare candidates for confirmation.
Fr Richard Green, Vicar of Aberdare St Fagan Parish, is one of many clergy across Wales using social media to deliver church services to members worshipping at home. The parish uses Facebook Live and YouTube to broadcast Sunday services, with impressive viewing figures. His church also connects to parishioners on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through morning homilies on Facebook.
The parish runs Confirmation classes each year, providing a basic introduction to the Christian faith, predominantly to children aged 10 and 11 preparing for confirmation. More than 40 children attended confirmation classes at Aberdare St Fagan last year. This year, 70 children and 12 adults signed up... then lockdown was announced.
With candidates eager to continue affirming their faith, Fr Richard was determined not to let people down, “The children really want to crack on with the confirmation classes, even though we can’t meet in the traditional way. I was thinking to myself, it would be a shame to do nothing because we have all these children with an expectation that we would start confirmation classes after Easter. What can we do to keep their interest?”
Fr Richard turned to Facebook to ask for advice. “After the lockdown started, I asked for any recommendations for an online platform that was free and suitable for a class like this and several people suggested Google Classroom. It's perfect for our needs."
Google Classroom allows Fr Richard to post assignments online, which candidates access through the platform and are then returned to him for marking. The platform also has a stream for comments and questions, making it a good channel for two-way communication. He uses Zoom to record video instructions for the children, which he uploads to YouTube and then posts on Google Classroom.
He also uses Zoom to run confirmation classes for adults, all of them parents of children being confirmed.
Fr Richard adds, "It's wonderful that we can continue to minister to our church community and nurture faith even when our church doors are temporarily closed."
Aberdare St Fagan confirmation classes now run every other week, with a further nine meetings running until the autumn.
Using Google Classroom – Fr Richard’s top tips
1, It's easy to use if you have a Google account. Log into Google Classrooms with your Gmail account and then set up a group with a name.
2, The class you have set up will come with a code. Simply email this to the students and then they can sign-up to join.
3, Need more than one teacher in your virtual classroom? No problem. You can invite others to join the group as teachers.
4, Use the "stream” feature to make announcements that all students can see.
5, It's easy to create assignments. You can attach files created in Google Docs and links to YouTube videos. Students upload their work that any of the teachers can mark, comment on (comments seen only by the students) and return.
Need further advice?
Email Fr Richard if you would like further advice on setting up your Google Classroom. firstname.lastname@example.org