Returning Home: Celebratory Grief & Imagining the Future

For many of us, it’s been over a year since we’ve been in our church buildings for any purpose. No indoor gatherings have moved meetings, coffee hours, formation opportunities, and even worship -have all occurred digitally. The pandemic has kept us apart from one another physically in so many ways, especially those of us who live in colder climes who don’t have the space or weather to meet outdoors for worship. As we look to the warmth of spring, more of us armed with our vaccinations and our local map turning from red to orange (will we every see yellow or green?) will be coming out of our hibernation to rise and shine. Easter will take on new meaning; a renewed life in meeting in-person that will be a different/new normal.

Continue reading Returning Home: Celebratory Grief & Imagining the Future

Are You Called to Be a Catechist?

Many churches have lay people who take on the volunteer role of adult education chair, children’s ministries coordinator, or youth group leader. Some churches have the luxury (and budget) to have a staff person (clergy or lay) who hold a position that oversees formation ministries. For the most part, especially our smallest congregations and those with part-time clergy, the “task” of Christian formation is part of the priest-in-charge’s portfolio. Enter the ministry of all the baptized: How can lay people in the congregation be trained to assist the clergy in the formation of God’s people – especially in the realm of preparation for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal of Baptismal Vows? Consider discerning whether you or someone in your congregation is called to be a lay catechist.

According to the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church,

“a Catechist is a lay person authorized to prepare persons for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception, and the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows, and shall function under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith” Canon 111.4.8.

Licenses for all canonical lay ministries (catechist, preacher, evangelist, worship leader, pastoral care) are issued by the bishop of one’s diocese.

I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching a course for Bexley-Seabury Seminary’s Pathways for Baptismal Living School beginning on Tuesday, April 11, 2021 for a total of seven sessions, ending on May 29 for the Catechist License. The school’s mission includes providing “life-long, life-wide & life-deep learning for ALL the baptized.” My hope is that my course will provide the tools for those who desire to “up their game” as a Christian educator of children, youth, and/or adults and ultimately, to be certified as a lay Catechist in the Episcopal Church by their bishop.

My introduction to course participants.

This seven-session blended (synchronous and asynchronous) course will prepare you to teach/form God’s people. Each week we will engage in independent study, asynchronous discussions, and live web conversations to gain comfort and confidence developing and leading formational offerings. All from the comfort of your home (or office).

SESSION 1: Theology of Formation
SESSION 2: Faith Development Across the Age Span
SESSION 3: Curriculum Development
SESSION 4: Delving Into Scripture
SESSION 5: Sacramental Preparation: Baptism
SESSION 6: Sacramental Preparation: Confirmation
SESSION 7: Putting It all Together

I’m happy to answer any questions; to set up a phone call, send me an email. And if you don’t feel called to the ministry of Lay Catechist, perhaps you are called to be an Evangelist, Preacher, or Worship Leader. Pathways for Baptismal Living has a course for you also, plus much more.

The Hopeful Family

Resilience. Empathy. Courage. Gratitude. These are all just a few descriptions of what I assume all parents (and grandparents) wish to instill in their children. I believe being part of a faithful, worshiping community is an avenue to supporting us in this endeavor, as it is a hard, if not impossible road to follow on one’s own. But not all families are connected to a faith community and certainly during this pandemic, we are now isolated from many of those personal face-to-face support systems.

COVID-19 has “simply” added to all the reasons why parents (and any adult) despair over the world that we will be leaving to our children: climate change, political division, civil unrest, and racial injustice. And many couples have chosen not to have children as they do not want to add another individual into a world with a fraught-filled future.

Then along comes Amelia Richardson Dress’ new publication, The Hopeful Family: Raising Children in Uncertain Times (Morehouse Publishing, 2021). Asked to be part of the “launch team” of the book I agreed, despite wondering if this was going to be another book about children and spiritual practices (as the early descriptions shared) to hold them up against the evils in this world. I was more than pleasantly surprised. From the moment I held the soft, smooth cover of the book in my hands and discovered the beautiful layout and interior design, The Hopeful Family evoked feelings of calm; each chapter begins with an unexpected quote about parenting (with hope) and a lovely blessing is offering in conclusion.

Continue reading The Hopeful Family

A Christian Life of Faith: Signs and Thresholds along The Way!

Just over a year ago, a group of lay formation leaders in the Episcopal Church left a three-day gathering that focused on what it means to be a lay professional in the Church and how such leaders are supported along the journey of faith. All with degrees in higher education (Master’s, DMins, and PhDs), we are employed by the Church on a variety of levels: local, diocesan, institutional, or church-wide in the areas of formation and ministry development. We shared stories of our calls to ministry; one thread that ran through each of our stories was that at one point we were encouraged or assumed to be interested in ordained ministry. Several of us had actually been in “the process” and discerned we were NOT called to ordained ministry. We had as many questions as we had stories.

Continue reading A Christian Life of Faith: Signs and Thresholds along The Way!

#AdventWord2020

I was excited to receive an invitation this summer to write a meditation for #AdventWord2020. If you’re not familiar with #AdventWord, it is a simple and interactive (if you want) way to engage in reflection on the Advent Sunday lectionary readings via one word a day throughout the Season of Advent. Today marks the first Sunday of Advent – a day we hear words from the prophet Isaiah and light one candle on the Advent wreath. We await, with expectation, for the birth of Christ – Emmanuel: God is with us. And in this “Year of the Pandemic,” Advent will be filled with more expectation perhaps than usual as we look for the light at the end of this long, long darkness we have been in since March.

Continue reading #AdventWord2020