Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

A Call to Action

The Task Force on Older Adult Ministries convened for the first time during the 2010-2012 triennium by an act of the 76th General Convention. The Task Force evolved from the Task Force on Senior Ministries formed in 2003, which was a ministry of The Office for Ministry Development. The Task Force on Older Adult Ministries is mandated to determine programs currently being offered by congregations, dioceses and provinces, to establish a method of sharing this information, and to explore ways the church can connect with each other in intergenerational opportunities. The Task Force is also directed to create a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of issues related to older adults.

The following resolution is part of their Blue Book Report which has been submitted to the General Convention Office:

A Response to the Call of The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation: A Call to Action

Resolved, the House of ______ concurring, that the 77th General Convention adopt the following text as A Response to the Call of The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation: A Call to Action by the Task Force for Older Adult Ministries Our vision for The Episcopal Church is that each congregation will be a place where people of all ages are welcomed and valued, where The Episcopal Church will provide resources and assistance to its members as they go through the lifelong process of aging, particularly those times of change when new callings need to be discerned, and where the grace and fellowship of the local congregation will surround each of its members, wherever they may be in the aging process.  Our vision for our Episcopal Church is that we will support dioceses and congregations in their ministry with older members, and that this support will be reflected in policies, worship, and training for all the ministers of the church.

We Invite The Episcopal Church:

  1. To embrace older adults in all parts of the life of the Church.
  2. To recognize our almost universal fear of our own aging.
  3. To examine our own individual process of aging.
  4. To encourage all generations to make their own discoveries in the journey of lifelong aging.
  5. To foster liturgical rites and traditions that embrace older adults.

We Inspire The Episcopal Church:

  1. To celebrate and learn from the individual, intra-cultural and inter-cultural diversity in aging.
  2. To understand that spiritual discovery and discernment is a lifelong process.
  3. To respond to injustices toward older adults.
  4. To recognize that all older adults have the right to be loved, accepted and included.

We Challenge The Episcopal Church to become a transforming community that:

  1. Includes people of all ages as participants in baptismal ministries.
  2. Responds to the changing culture as it relates to aging.
  3. Confesses that no one has the “whole truth,” or completely understands the aging process.
  4. Believes aging starts at birth and ends at death—it is a life process.
  5. Allows for ultimate freedom, individuality in aging.
  6. Provides a place of resource and solace for families dealing with aging.
  7. Understands there is a wholeness in aging, including mind, body and spirit.

This call to action is grounded in our understanding of the Baptismal Covenant and our identity as Episcopalians. Lifelong Christian Faith Formation in The Episcopal Church is lifelong growth in the knowledge, service, and love of God as followers of Christ and is informed by Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Developed by the Task Force for Older Adult Ministries in response to GC2009 A087.

EXPLANATION

This Call to Action was developed in response to a need expressed in the Church and by the 76th General Convention in D004 for additional resources and encouragement which celebrate lifelong Christian formation for older adults. Informed by our exploration and engagement with the Baptismal Covenant, the Five Marks of Mission, and the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation the prophetic voice of the Task Force for Older Adult Ministries emerged and this Call to Action reflects the urgency of the need of the Church to engage with depth and breadth the education and formation of people of all ages. All generations working creatively, sharing wisdom and perspectives can enrich formation. The church is most especially enriched when all ages are connected in formation and there is no graduation from our work as Christians. To assist the Church in the implementation of this Call to Action a guide to facilitate conversations and action in congregations, dioceses and provinces has been developed.

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Scenarios for the Future

From November 7-10, 2011, leaders from across a variety of ministry settings gathered to envision the future shape of faith formation in The Episcopal Church. Through a scenario planning process the leaders identified significant forces affecting faith formation, determined two critical uncertainties that will shape future directions, and created four scenarios or narratives to capture the possibilities for the future of faith formation. The four scenarios are not predictions, projections, or prophecies but rather an attempt to provoke a realization that the future need not simply be more of the same.

The scenario planning process centered around a key focusing question: How might Christian lifelong faith formation over the next ten years affect the renewal and transformation of The Episcopal Church in 21st century America? After careful study of the significant driving forces, two uncertainties were selected from a longer list of potential uncertainties that might shape the broader context of church and faith formation over the next decade or longer. The two chosen uncertainties together define a set of four scenarios for the future of faith formation in The Episcopal Church that are divergent, challenging, internally consistent and plausible. Each of the two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that represents a continuum of possibilities ranging between two endpoints.

Critical Uncertainties

  • The Relationship of Technology and Community – Will the continuing evolution of technology enhance human community and connection or will technology diminish community and connections among people?
  • The Response of The Episcopal Church to Changing Global Realities – Will The Episcopal Church’s response toward emerging global realities, such as increasing cultural diversity, economic uncertainty and resource availability for all people, lead the Church toward an outward-focused engagement with the world or toward an inner-focused, separation from the world?

One of the resolutions to come before General Convention (Building the Continuum: An Electronic Learning Community) addresses one of the scenarios: A Church Engaged in the World & Community and Connection Enhanced by Technology. Little did the groups working on developing this scenario know that the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education had already proposed an “Online Learning Community” that would address the needs of this possible scenario.

This is a world in which The Episcopal Church utilizes all of the potential in current and emerging digital and web technologies to connect with people 24x7x365, build relationships and engage people in lifelong faith formation and mission to the world. Faith formation in physical places – congregations, camps, conference centers, and school – are all web- and digitally-enhanced, extending their programming into the everyday lives of people, anywhere and everywhere. People connect and mobilize for mission and collective action in the world using the new communication tools and web technologies. The Episcopal Church becomes a leader in utilizing the new technologies to develop lifelong disciples who are growing in their Episcopal faith and are actively engaged in transforming the world.

At the moment, there is NOT one concise location on The Episcopal Church’s website that is a portal for Christian formation resources . . . links to best practices, resources, people and programs. With the decrease in staffing positions on the local and diocesan level, such a portal is needed especially small congregations who struggle to find the resources and connections for engaging and current pedagogy in Christian formation.

Your support (with funding!) of Building the Continuum resolution at General Convention will help accomplish this!

The Five Marks of Mission

Anglican Communion

Between 1984 and 1990, the Anglican Consultative Council developed Five Marks of Mission, which “have won wide acceptance among Anglicans, and have given parishes and dioceses around the world a practical and memorable ‘checklist’ for mission activities,” according to the Anglican Communion Web site. They were adopted at the 76th General Convention in 2009 (D027) and recommended to be the five top strategic priorities for the Episcopal Church. Program, Budget, and Finance and the Executive Council have been called to center the budget for the 2013-2015 triennium around these strategic priorities.

These statements call us to invite, inspire and transform the church. They are the heart of Christian Formation.

The Five Marks of Mission are as follows:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The Five Marks of Mission on YouTube

Invite, Inspire, Transform

Welcome to “Building the Continuum!” We hope the conversation, ideas and resources shared here will help build upon the momentum that began at General Convention 2009 in which The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation was passed.

The Charter invites individuals “to enter into a prayerful life of worship, continuous learning, intentional outreach, advocacy and service; to be inspired to develop new learning experiences, equipping disciples for a life in a world of secular challenges and carefully listening for the words of modern sages who embody the teachings of Christ; and to be transformed by striving to be a loving and witnessing community which faithfully confronts the tensions in the church and the world as we struggle to live God’s will.”

Within this site, you can learn more about the resolutions to come before the 77th General Convention that will help us live out The Charter that have been submitted by The Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation.

Please join us as we are called to . . .

INVITE . . . INSPIRE . . . TRANSFORM

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