Rows of Sharon is a place to share passion and insights for those who care about lifelong Christian formation – or at least to listen in to someone who is on a journey of self-reflection in the midst of being called to the ministry of Christian formation as a lay person.
While I don’t come even close to calling myself Solomon’s bride (the Shulamite woman who is supposedly the reference of this biblical verse), growing up I had a Rose of Sharon bush growing outside my bedroom window. I always loved this hibiscus variant and my grandmother’s back yard was full of them. Sharon itself is a location – one of the largest valley-plains in Palestine. At the time of Solomon, it was considered a wild, fertile plan that had many beautiful flowers in it. My hope is that this site will provide fertile ground for not only my thoughts and opinions, but also a place for conversation – please respond to my posts with your thoughts!
Who am I?
A wife, mom, grandmother, and educator with a passion for lifelong Christian formation. I’m blessed to be able to live out my vocation in the world through my work at Church Publishing Incorporated as an editor with a focus on Christian formation. I enjoy supporting and assisting individuals and congregations in strengthening their Christian formation ministries and programs. As an editor with CPI, I have oversight of books and resources that connect with education, formation, congregational development, and leadership. In other words – everything that happens in a church! It is a gift to help others share their creativity and ideas, transformational through print publications. I’ve also been able to author, co-author and write/edit a number of titles. You can learn about them here (and Amazon reviews are always welcome!)
A lifelong Episcopalian, I’ve been involved in all levels of church life on the congregational level – volunteer & staff – Director of Christian Education, Church School teacher, youth leader, acolyte trainer, Eucharistic minister, Vestry member (governing board), Search Committee (for a new rector), Outreach Commission, Choir, and even church secretary for a short time. I’ve also held leadership positions in several regional and national Christian Education committees, commissions, and networks. My whole adult life has involved teaching. With a BS in Special Education, my first jobs were teaching teens with learning disabilities. I’ve taught in a Nursery School, where I also led the weekly children’s chapel. I have a certificate in Christian Education from Hartford Seminary and an MA in Christian Education from Virginia Theological Seminary. With training as a Godly Play teacher and EfM (Education for Ministry) mentor, I’ve been on a journey with the youngest and oldest seekers and learners. I’m an active member of Forma and am currently part of the Working Group for the Presiding Bishop’s Way of Love initiative. I’m also proud to be the originator of Building Faith, which I curated for over four years before handing it over to Virginia Theological Seminary.
I live in Norwalk, Connecticut with my husband, John, Shadow the cat, and a rescue lab named Chobe (after Chobe National Park in Botswana). We have two grown children: Becca is an Environmental Science teacher and animal curator at Mary Hooker Magnet School for Environmental Studies in Hartford, Connecticut; she is married to Jamie (a fish hatchery supervisor for the CT DEP), and together they have blessed us with Mackenzie (now age 4). Our son Chris is a math teacher at Newton High School, also in Connecticut. We love to travel and had the wonderful opportunity (as a family!) to raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon in September 2009 and take a 10-day safari in Botswana and Zambia in 2012.
John and I love to travel and have had the privilege to have been through most of Europe, large portions of Africa, and just about every state in the U.S. with national parks being favorite destinations. Filling my passport is a childhood dream come true. I never travelled as a child; it all began with our honeymoon (45+ years ago) to Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming with the flowers blooming; we finally went back – this time in January – for some snowmobiling. Upcoming trips include finally a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and a photo trip to Alaska where we’ll spend some time up close to bears. Discovering new places and meeting new people and cultures is where we often find God.
How did I get to where I am today?
I began my journey with Church Publishing in November 2007, after serving as Children’s Ministries and Christian Education Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. I loved my ministry supporting the 175 congregations and its members, lifting up the importance of lifelong Christian formation and the full inclusion of children in the life of the church.
A “call” out of the blue took me out of my comfort zone and into a new area to live out my vocation – through the Episcopal Church’s publishing company. So now I travel all around the United States, offering workshops and presentation on topics regarding faith formation. I learn as much as I teach and enjoy meeting so many new people of all ages and from all places. God is good and alive in the world around us, working God’s mission out through so many creative and dedicated people.
[The postings on this site are my own and do not represent the positions, views, or opinions of The Church Pension Group or Church Publishing Incorporated.]
2 thoughts on “About”
Ciao bella!!!! Buona Pasqua cara…you’ll see that I logged in a few minutes ago from Perugia Italy! I have finally gottena moment to start reading your blog. Complimenti!!! I’m here until May 26th just in time to conclude our Sunday School year and celebrate the work of my teachers. darling, I didnt bring my NAECED membership info. when I order from Church publishing I know I”m eligible for a discount. How do I do that and what’s the code? In love and blessings, Melissa
Have just nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can find out more information on my post: http://francesgabriel75.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/ive-been-nominated-the-liebster-award/ – God bless!