As many of you know, I have spent a good deal of my ministry in a variety of settings researching, writing, and advocating for (or against) the rite of Confirmation. It has not that I have been opposed to this sacramental rite in which many have called a “sacrament in search of a meaning,” but that I have been critical of how we (in The Episcopal Church specifically) have been preparing teenagers (and even adults) in making that reaffirmation of their baptismal promises.
When working with congregations and their youth preparing for confirmation, it had been my experience that a majority of the young people were less than enthusiastic about meeting on a regular basis for “preparation” and many were only present because their parents “made them come.” And after receiving the laying-on-of-hands by a bishop, these same young people rarely came back, having finished their formation and requirements to be a “Christian.” And those faith statements that often began with, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I believe we are supposed to be good people”: The whole moralistic therapeutic deism piece explained in the research of Christian Smith. Isn’t Confirmation supposed to be one’s reaffirmation in the belief that Christ is their Lord and Savior and they will follow him as a disciple for the rest of their life? A tough statement that may not be so developmentally appropriate for a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. Continue reading The “Best” of Youth Confirmation in a Nutshell
A little while back I wrote about a forthcoming book that will serve as the foundation for a new educational resource entitled, These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sex at Church & Home by Leslie Choplin and Jenny Beaumont to be published in August 2016. In upcoming seasons there will be additional modules published for a variety of age levels in which to “live out” the call that this foundation book seeks to serve.
The Middle School module of These Are Our Bodies also debuts with the foundation book. This module, written by Jenny Beaumont and Abbi Long, includes three components: A Leader Guide, Parent Book, and Participant Book. This module has ten sessions for middle-schoolers (and two for their parents) to facilitate discussion, deepen knowledge, integrate sexuality and faith, and equip youth and parents to handle the pressures of culture and peers. Continue reading Talking Faith & Sex with Middle Schoolers
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.
From the Introduction of the foundation book: Continue reading These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith & Sexuality
The Paschal Candle is a large, white candle used in Western Christianity in such traditions as the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic Churches. Lit during the season of Easter and at special liturgies of Holy Baptism and funerals, “Paschal” comes from Pesach, which is Hebrew meaning “Passover,” relating to the Paschal mystery of salvation. Dedicated during the Great Vigil of Easter, the Paschal Candle is symbolic of the eternal light of Christ – the Alpha and Omega: the beginning and the end; it symbolizes the eternal light of Christ from the beginning of Creation to the end of time.
Typically these candles are sold with decals and/or wax decorations on them from a variety of church supply companies. They can be very ornate or very simple. In recent years hollow candle “shells” have become available to fill with oil in order to be used over and over again, not burning down as a traditional beeswax candle might after much use.
Many years ago when I was the Director of Children’s Ministries at my home parish, I asked my daughter and her friend if they wanted to decorate a special Paschal Candle, to replace the church’s previous years’ candle that could no longer be used again. I gave them carte blanche to design the candle as long as the traditional components were present: the cross with incense points, the date, and the Greek letters α (Alpha) and Ω (Omega). I provided the supplies: a blank, white Paschal candle, incense points (taken from the “old” Paschal candle), small sheets of colored beeswax sheets, and a Book of Common Prayer. Continue reading Salvation History on a Paschal Candle
As 2015 comes to an end, I thought it would be interesting to see what articles I either shared or bookmarked for further reading and study that related to the changing landscape of Christian formation in the Church. In the past I have written about trends and the future, with my five-part series, Christian Formation in a Changing Church getting a lot of traction from readers. What have others been writing about this year that informs where our focus could (or should) be in 2016? Where does our attention need to be focused? Check out some of these articles:
A new ministry structure experiment at Olivet United Church of Christ in Lino Lakes, MN was shared by Faith Formation Director Amber Espinoza on Vibrant Faith. It involves ending classroom-based Christian education, toys in the atrium (aka Narthex in Episcopal circles), the integration of children in worship, and family retreats.
The Confirmation Project is a five-denomination study that has taken place over the past few years looking at best practices of confirmation preparation in our churches. Here is their latest webinar, in which Lisa Kimball (Virginia Seminary) and Terri Elton (Luther Seminary) share their insights from the study. Basically, Confirmation is just one of many important aspects of youth formation. It is an opportunity to bring young people along into a life long journey of faith. And it’s important that once confirmed, the relationships continue post-confirmation and the community continues to support them in faith. Continue reading 2015: Top Formation Trends & Articles