Once Upon a Time is Today

One of my favorite moments when my 6-year-old granddaughter comes to visit is bedtime. Besides being tired myself after a long day of active and imaginative play with her, it provides us a moment to settle down into our nighttime routine of choosing some books to read before we snuggle up on “her” bed in our guest room. Praise be, she loves reading and being read to. And she has become quite the critic of children’s books.

Recently I received an advance review copy of Jennifer Grant’s new children’s book Once Upon a Time Not So Long Ago. Reading it ahead of time, I knew what its subject matter was and decided it was an opportunity for Miss M to share her thoughts with me. We began it like we do with all the books before opening the pages; looking at the cover we try to figure out what the book is about. “It’s a boy talking to his grandfather.” “I wonder what they are talking about?”

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An Updated Children’s Curriculum Chart

I usually update my curriculum charts every year in April or May. This year I am late; I’ve come to realize that in my “retirement” I don’t have the energy (or heart) to focus on this project that I’ve done annually for at least twenty years now. And I must admit my frustration – every year on social media groups that focus on Christian formation the same questions are asked: what are you using for your [fill in the blank] with [fill in the blank with an age group]. It is followed by countless responses of “use this,” “we like this,” or “I have heard this is good.” That is NOT how to choose a curriculum for your church programs, no matter the age.

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Planning Calendar for 2021-2022

I have always believed that the Season of Easter is a time to plan and look to the future in all manner of things. Depending on where you live in the northern hemisphere, it is a time to think about planting: mapping out your garden, starting seeds, or actually putting plants into the ground. For me it was also about evaluating the past academic year in secular education or the Church.

I’ve written and shared plenty of ideas on how to evaluate your programming and curriculum. I’ll soon be posting new curriculum charts for children, youth, and adult formation. And by popular demand, I offer the Christian Formation Planning Calendar for 2020-2021 (Pentecost 2020 thru August 2021) in two formats for you to adapt to your own context and needs.

2021-2022 Planning Calendar (docx)

2021-2022 Planning Calendar (pdf)

  • Column 1: Date / Season
    • Date
    • Sunday noted on the church calendar
    • Reading designation (proper)
  • Column 2: Sunday Readings appointed for the day (following the Episcopal version of the Revised Common Lectionary). This is not the same as the ’79 BCP lectionary or the standard RCL. Episcopalians like to tweak and amend! Track 1 and Track 2 are offered when applicable.
    • Old Testament / Hebrew Scripture reading
    • Psalm or Canticle
    • New Testament reading
    • Gospel
  • Column 3: Observances
    • These can be civic (governmental holidays) or religious (Christian mid-week observances)
    • Space to fill in your own local practice
  • Column 4: Church Events
    • For you to fill in with your church’s events or notes for the day
  • Column 5: Notes
    • Space for your notations

Don’t forget to plug-in your teacher trainings and workshops, conference opportunities, seasonal projects for Advent and Lent, pageant and play rehearsals, mission trips, VBS, recognitions and presentations, school vacations and holidays, and social activities. As requested, you can download a pdf version or a Word version.

Stay tuned in the coming days for the updated curriculum charts. A lot has changed in the past year with numerous new resources and a few that have been discontinued. Certainly our lens may have changed a bit in what we choose to use and adapt with new questions to ask: How can I use this resource if/when we cannot meet face-to-face and in person on Sunday (or any other time)? How is this resource adaptable for use at home and online?

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.

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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.