The Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s Mission Council, of which I am an elected member, held its annual “working day retreat” at Camp Washington, ECCT’s summer camp and conference center in January. Besides learning about one another more fully and getting newly elected members “on board” to our duties and responsibilities (we act as the governing body between diocesan conventions––like a parish Vestry or diocesan Executive Council), our gathering was to focus on what initiatives we desired our focus to be on in for the upcoming year.
I had been part of a small sub-group that had been exploring how we, as Mission Council members as well as all of ECCT, could be better equipped to be disciples in the post-Christian mission field. Part of our conversation has been to discern the differences (and similarities) of apostleship and discipleship. The two words are often used interchangeably, but in today’s world in which fewer individuals go to church each Sunday––if at all––each has taken on a new meaning. How we are called to be both apostle and disciple has been informed by these conversations, but also in two books that I happened to be bringing to publication from my editorial desk at the time. And both books are about how we tell our stories––our stories of family, stories of God, and stories of what we believe. Continue reading Talking About Our Faith→
Recently I have been invited to give workshops in numerous locations on the basics; the core documents and key websites that I believe anyone involved in Christian formation with children, youth, or adults needs to know about. For January’s Forma Conference workshop, I put together a handout where they are all located in one place.
But for those who want the documents with more of an explanation – here goes. Think of it as a catechism for Episcopal educators: a question with some answers. These are the questions I am frequently asked, and how I respond:
Q. What is the curriculum authorized by the Episcopal Church?
Liturgy is formation. We learn how to pray by praying. We learn Bible stories by hearing and reading them. We learn about community by worshiping together. We learn the traditions of the Church by being present as they are celebrated. We learn the rhythms of the Christian year by watching the “colors” change with the liturgical seasons and the prayers that set the tone of the season.
Soon we will begin a new (secular) year. We already began a new (sacred) year several weeks ago on the First Sunday of Advent. How do we help all ages live into sacred time instead of the secular patterns that we follow (and is forced upon us) in the culture in which we live?
We practice. We remember. We slow down. And perhaps we focus on what we do on Sundays when we are gathered for worship and education – forming ourselves into Christians who are of this world but strive for more.
Every week (toward the beginning) I look ahead to what the coming Sunday will bring. What lessons will I be hearing in church? What is the season and its themes? Are there ways to make them relevant to children, youth, and adults – each in an age appropriate way? Hopefully during preaching and the “education hour” there is time to put things in context. Hopefully there is a reason the lesson or story you are sharing in Church School is connected to the season or the Gospel. You don’t need to be using a lectionary-based curriculum (although that helps), but the biblical stories we share need to make a connection to where we are in God’s world (and “time”) today. And that takes planning. Continue reading A Christian Educator’s Guide to Liturgical Planning→
I can always tell when mid-August hits. The peepers are loud outside my windows at night and in the morning my in-box is full of queries: How do I access my curriculum subscription? Do you have a teacher commissioning service? I can’t find your planning calendar. What do you recommend for first communion instruction (with the caveat – “I know, but the parents were raised Catholic.”). The same questions appear year after year and I’ve tried to curate many of those answers within this site.
For many years I have conducted surveys to discover what curricula were being used in churches with children, youth, and adults. Part of the survey always asked for each age level, “What types of resources or curricula would you like to see developed?” One of the major responses (especially for youth) has been in the area of human sexuality; ways to engage with all ages about the connection between one’s faith and one’s responsibility as a sexual being.
Finally, I am excited to share a new program that has been specifically designed and written for Episcopalians by Episcopalians. These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sexuality at Church & Home (by Leslie Choplin and Jenny Beaumont) will be available in August 2016, beginning with a foundation book and a program module for Middle School students (which includes a Leader Guide, Parent Book, and Participant Book). A High School program module will be available in Spring 2017. In an upcoming post I will share what the program materials for the Middle School module involve. For now, here is a taste of the foundation book for the program, which I believe will be a helpful resource for all adults in our churches – parents, clergy, youth leaders, Christian educators, and all who seek to connect our faith with our whole being, including our sexuality as children of God.