Why Celebrate Mother’s Day?

“Honor your father and your mother . . . that your days may be long” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

The United States’ observance of Mother’s Day is held each year on the second Sunday in May. The holiday can be traced back to the Mother’s Day Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe in the aftermath of the American Civil War. It was a reflection of her pacifist reaction to the horrors of the war and her conviction that mothers had a rightful voice in the conduct of public affairs. There were other attempts to create a Mother’s Day holiday in the ensuing years, but none succeeded beyond local observances.

The current holiday was created through the efforts of Anna Jarvis, continuing the work of her mother Ann Jarvis, who dreamed of creating a holiday to honor all mothers. With the help of Philadelphia department store magnate John Wanamaker, Jarvis persuaded President Woodrow Wilson to make it a national holiday in 1914.

Intentionally or not, the support of retail genius Wanamaker proved predictive, and Mother’s Day soon became so commercially successful that many opposed it, including its founder Jarvis, who spent her inheritance and the rest of her life opposing it. Such opposition has done little to slow down the commercial juggernaut that Mother’s Day has become. It is the most popular day of the year for dining out in a restaurant. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Mother’s Day survey, 86% of Americans celebrated this day in 2018 with the average individual spending $180 on a gift; approximately $4.6 billion on jewelry, $2.6 billion on flowers, and another $813 million on greeting cards.

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2019-2020 Formation Planning Calendar

Back by popular demand, just in time to start next year’s program planning, here (in easy-to-print and Word form) is my Christian Formation Planning Calendar for the coming academic year. It begins with the first Sunday of June 2019 and concludes at the end of August 2020.

You’ll find the “name” of the Sunday in the first column, followed by columns including the lectionary readings for the day, civic/ecumenical events (like Presidents’ Day), typical church events (like a day specifically set for baptisms), and blank spaces to write your own notes.

Now is the time to begin evaluating this past program year before planning next. And it’s a great time to start reviewing your curricula and program resources. Give plenty of time for all these important details in order to insure a smooth transition from one year to the next. And don’t forget to celebrate all your accomplishments!

A National Day of Prayer – Make it for Peace

Today (Thursday, May 2), we celebrate the National Day of Prayer. Of course, every day should be a day of prayer, but how does this become a “national” day in a country that claims a separation of church and state?

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

There are a number of organizations and individuals who feel the day has been politicized by many to promote an agenda as well as a particular religious viewpoint. This is easy to see, with its founders having ties to Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Focus on the Family. One such organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation offers their opinion and history of this day here. However, it would behoove all Christians (and perhaps all faith communities) to follow the Episcopal Peace Fellowship‘s call for Christians everywhere to be known by our love (the 2019 National Day of Prayer theme) and to be instruments of peace in a violent society. They write in their latest e-news:

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About those mentors . . .

A confirmand and his mentor from Trinity Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, California

As noted in my previous post, I gave a workshop over the weekend on “Best Practices in Confirmation Ministry.” Several asked for my handout as well as my presentation slides, so they can be found here:

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:

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Resources for Confirmation Prep

As noted in a previous post about results of The Confirmation Project and the Confirmation Collaborative, curricular resources are not the key to a good confirmation “program.” However, many churches still depend on written materials, programs, and “lessons” to form the basis of their confirmation program with youth. When the press release of the Confirmation Collaborative came out, many got in touch with me about what new resources (aka curriculum) we were going to develop, including The Living Church. Somehow I feel that the whole point of the Collaborative was missed. Sadly, the Church automatically goes to default when formation and confirmation are discussed.

While the Living Church initially requested information from me about what new materials are in the works to be published, I was glad to see that their article did focus on the process in “Raising Confirmands in the Way They Should Go.” I think I would have appreciated the title “Raising Confirmands in the Way WE Should Go, but it takes awhile to move that needle. In the article, Lisa Kimball states:

“They don’t want the teacher in the front of the room lecturing about those things,” Kimball said. “They want to be learning pedagogically and be more engaged in participatory ways.”

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