The Art of Forming Faithful People: Forma 2015

Unknown-3I spent the last few days of January in Houston, Texas attending Forma‘s 18th Annual Conference. It was a jam-packed few days filled with excellent workshops, outstanding speakers, and (most importantly for me) a chance to network and learn from colleagues from across the United States (and beyond) about new ideas, joys, and struggles in the world of lifelong Christian formation in the Episcopal Church.

There have been several Forma members who have shared their perspective of the event that you can read, including Kyle Oliver of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Seminary who wrote about keynoter Brene Brown’s keynote. For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Brown, it’s best to view her TED Talk regarding vulnerability. The best summary I can give of her amazing talk was what I put out on Twitter during the presentation (@rowsofsharonp). All her quotes:

  • I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for Christian formation.
  • If you want to form people with god you need to inspire them
  • fear + anxiety + shame = scarcity
  • The casualty of fear and scarcity is faith
  • We can be a place that doesn’t offer certainty but that offers love
  • Leading from scarcity moves people away.
  • How many of you have a gratitude practice?
  • how many of you incorporate gratitude practices into your ministry?
  • Knowledge is only rumor until you live it in your bones
  • Children need a place of belonging that is not school
  • It is our job – formation folk – is to accept ppl for who they are and offer a space to belong
  • I’ve never been asked to choose intellect over faith in the Episcopal Church
  • Shame only works when you feel you’re alone. Embrace empathy.
  • Our kids are desperate for boundaries.
  • Difference between entitlement and privilege is gratitude
  • Hopelessness + shame = violence. We need to cultivate hope and offer an alternative.

In addition to Dr. Brown, three other presenters shared their thoughts of how we as faith formation folk can live out the gospel in our ministry with others.

The Rev. Dr. Mark Bozzuti-Jones of Trinity Wall Street calls us to remember the poor:

Jamie Coats of the Society of St. John the Evangelist challenged us to “Kick Humpty.” Listen and join the movement!

Lastly, Vicki Garvey of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago shares her gift of storytelling paired with biblical scholarship:

And I would be remiss to share some other memories and images: Hearing that Forma is now 446 members strong … A scholarship fund has been established in longtime friend Janie Steven’s memory … Celebrating the first “class” of individuals who have earned the  Certificate for Youth and Family Ministry … Gathering with fellow Church Publishing authors for a book signing, may of which I had the privilege in helping their words come to life. View it all the slide show here:

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If you’re not a Forma member, you’re missing out on what was once a best kept secret in The Episcopal Church. I don’t think it’s a secret anymore! Next year’s conference is in Philadelphia, followed by Anaheim in 2017 and Nashville in 2018. Join here!

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