This past Sunday, the confirmands in my home parish shared their “faith statements” to parents, mentors, and Vestry members. With twenty-three confirmands (all about to graduate from 8th grade), it was an interesting “listening session” to hear how those who have spent a year in preparing for confirmation shared what they believed – and what they did not believe. All appropriate for this developmentally “searching” phase of adolescent life. Lots of “I’m not sure of all this Bible stuff.” “I feel closest to God when …” “My favorite experience has been …” “Even though I am still questioning …”
Then this piece came across my screen this week. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and known as the creator of Lent Madness, posed a question on Twitter that one of his parish high school confirmands asked him: What difference does it all make?
As I introduced the group to the Confirmation Collaborative. Basically, anyone who is gathered to discuss best practices of confirmation as well as share stories and struggles about making this catechetical time a catalyst for ongoing faith formation in our congregations. One of our discussions centered around having mentors for confirmands. What does this entail? Who does the choosing? What do mentors actually do?
Gail Sheehy, the author who did pioneering work about the various passages of life, recommends some tasks to consider during the fifth decade of life. She said that some of the most important work is in having and being a mentor. Will Willimon writes in Making Disciples: Mentor’s Guide:
This Lent I have been following along with the journal, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John; I have been struck by how the themes of John speak to what is going on in the world today. It hasn’t escaped me that this past weekend’s #MarchForOurLives occurred the day before Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus marched into Jerusalem to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God and challenge the status quo. The words that have spoken to me in the readings (and nightly news) these past weeks have been: testify, witness, declare, action. Jesus is among us again as a high school student.
“We declare to you . . . what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” ––1 John 1:1
I live a pretty privileged life. While I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and put myself through college while working some pretty tough jobs, I haven’t had to march for my life. I have had my share of participating in demonstrations, holding signs, and chanting with the crowd––but then I’ve had the luxury of going back home to a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a family to surround me with love. Continue reading A Holy Week Reflection→
We all have gifts, graces, and talents given to us by God. As Christians, we are called to serve God and use these gifts, graces, and talents. Congregations would not be able to offer its programs or opportunities for ministry without volunteers. Leadership is often “tasked” with finding volunteers to serve a variety of roles, including that of teacher and mentor for children and youth. It’s not about recruiting warm bodies, it as about an invitation into ministry. Here are some tips and pointers to invite others to share their gifts through the ministries of teaching and learning in your congregation. It is a call to ministry.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37
vol·un·teer – n. one who chooses freely to do something vt. To offer or give of one’s own free will. vi. To offer to enter into service of one’s own free will.
Why do people volunteer?
They want to be needed
They want to help others and make a difference
They want to learn new skills or use skills they already have
They want to belong to a caring community and feel accepted as members
They seek self-esteem and affirmation
They want to grow in their faith and share their God-given gifts
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→