Mondays with the Editors

Church Publishing Incorporated’s editorial team now has a Monday Facebook posting (around 9:00am ET) entitled “Mondays with the Editors.” So every three weeks or so I’ll have a post there (which in the past I would have written here). Follow CPI on Facebook to keep up with me and my colleagues to see what inspires us. These were my recent posts:

Going Beyond Books (12/10/18)

As Advent begins, it has become my tradition to review what has occurred over the past year, including projects worked on and events that have impacted my life. I gather favorite photos, remember trips taken, and the joys and challenges that have gone before. I begin to write my family’s annual Christmas letter which has become a way of my husband and I to reflect and give thanks. As an editor who has had the privilege of caring for the words of others that will be shared in the form of a published work, I am grateful that is role has taken me on a journey with so many, learning their story as well as developing collegial relationships and sometimes building upon friendships that began long before a book was even a dream.

Such is the memory from November, in which I was honored to “vest” Jenifer Gamber as she was ordained to the transitional diaconate at Washington National Cathedral. I was a friend and colleague long before co-writing (Call on Me) and editing (My Faith, My Lifeand Your Faith, Your Life). And to my joy, many other Christian formation friends also attended; that’s what we do––show up at life’s moments to support one another. And so now I have another photo to remind me of how grateful I am to have friends that I also get to “work” with; women who lead the way in helping make the Church (and the world) a better place. Alongside Jenifer, Wendy Claire Barrie (Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents), and Emily Slichter Given (Building Faith Brick by Brick Iand II) together we have celebrated many milestones in our lives. Being their editor is just icing on the cake, being a friend is what I value most.

My Morning Commute (12/31/18 )

At least once a week I make the commute into The City (aka New York City) to gather with my Church Publishing colleagues at 19 34th Street in Manhattan, home of the Church Pension Group. My train commute is about 75 minutes with an additional 15-minute walk at both ends to each station. I don’t know how so many people make this daily journey; in winter I leave the house in the dark and return home in the dark. We cram onto train cars, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, often knee-to-knee, and sometimes standing. In the morning it is quiet, most with ear buds in, coffee in hand, newspapers spread, or fingers busy on smart phones. And then there are those who sleep (and snore).

I rarely wear ear buds in the morning––I find it hard to read and listen at the same time. I’m typically reading a magazine or catching up on emails. I look around and wonder, “What is everyone listening to?” Sometimes I can hear the music, and often I can tell they are watching a movie or program as their eyes are gazed on an iPad. Is this the podcast audience tune-in time? I must admit, I’m not a podcast listener. However, I have been interviewed on several podcasts, including “Priest Pulse” and most recently “Coffee Hour at The Commons,” a podcast from the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (you can listen to me in Episode 24, talking about Christian formation and how books get published). There are hundreds of podcasts to choose from, many offered by Episcopalians. And as I’ve confessed, I don’t listen (it would mean I need to download them first), but they do have clever names.

Perhaps in the new year I will try a new practice during my morning commute. (In the evenings I tend to listen to my music playlist.) Should it be Popping Collars? Faith to Go? Notoriously Episcopalian? 2Fab? Priest Pulse? The Collect Call? Great names and I’m sure the content is good too. What do you listen to?

Forma 2019 (1/21/19)

As you read this, hopefully I will be on my way to Indianapolis to attend the 2019 Forma Annual Conference. Forma is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the ministry of those involved in Christian formation on the local and church-wide level. I have been a member almost since its founding in 1997 (as NAECED) when it was created to promote the professionalism of lay employees involved in Christian Education. My first annual meeting was in 2002 when I was a Director of Children’s Ministries in a local Episcopal Church and have attended the conference every year since. Since then, Forma has grown to a world (yes – beyond the USA) organization that is composed of the breadth, depth, and diversity of our Church in every single way. Not many groups in the Church can tout that!

This year’s focus is on “Formed to Proclaim: Conversations on Liturgy & Evangelism,” and I will be offering a workshop on “Acolyting as Formation.” I’ll share ideas for engaging children and youth in acolyte training that is more than showing up and carrying stuff in worship. I’ll tap into my latest book, I Serve at God’s Altar and how I mentor acolytes at my home parish of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, Connecticut. If you are one of the 350+ clergy and lay folks on the way to Indy, please stop by the CPI booth, my workshop, or seek me out and say “Hi!”

Christian Formation Questions (2/11/19)

Part of my role as an editor with Church Publishing is overseeing the resources we provide for faith formation, including curricular and program resources for children, youth, and adults. Part of that role also means staying abreast of the needs and questions, trends and changes that are occurring across the Church. In any typical week, in addition to my editorial responsibilities in acquiring and developmentally working on new manuscripts for publication, I answer emails and phone calls from individuals across the Episcopal Church who are seeking the “right” curricula, wanting to hire the “best” Christian educator, and/or looking for “the quick fix.” In my 35+ years’ tenure as a Christian educator, the landscape has certainly changed. Recently, Episcopal Teacher (a quarterly magazine from Virginia Theological Seminary) published its last print issue. I commend it to you here as a way to look back as well as look to the future. (And I was honored to be interviewed as part of its content highlighting Episcopal educators. Read the piece here.) Education is no longer Sunday school for children, but lifelong formation for all ages. Resources have grown from paper curricula to the digital world. One size does not fit all (and it never really did).

To many of the inquiries I receive I respond with another question: How is your congregation supporting the growth of discipleship in all facets of your life together through education (instruction + application) + worship + faith-in-action + fellowship? How would you respond?

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