Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Lifelong Formation: Talking Points

from the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation (Provincial representatives) 

Children’s Ministries and Adult Formation & Lifelong Learning: Talking Points 

The Mission of the Church Is the Mission of Christ: to teach, baptize and nurture new believers. #2 of The Five Marks of Mission

Why are Children’s Ministries and Adult Formation & Lifelong Learning important to the Episcopal Church?

Children’s Ministries provides imaginative, innovative resources for those who work with children and encourages congregations to fully include children in their church communities and in exploring their own ministries.  Through the Children’s Charter, the Episcopal Church is called to love, shelter, protect, and defend children within its own community and in the world.

Adult Formation & Lifelong Learning provides guidance and helps facilitate formation that transforms us as Christians throughout our lives.  Through the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation, the church is called to invite, inspire and transform people to a life of learning, growth and service.

This work is the ministry of:

  • Equipping, building up and sending out Christians who can be faithful witnesses, mentors and teachers to children, youth and adults as they are formed in faith.
  • Resourcing underserved communities, such as collectively creating new resources for members of the armed services and their families during deployment, or curriculum for Province 9.
  • Connecting people and resources across the church.
  • Collaborating with other Episcopal ministries, such as the Asian American and Hispanic ministries, to develop faith formation as an integral piece of their trainings and gatherings, such as in the New Community Gathering in 2011.
  • Connecting all generations through integrated partnership and planning with Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries, recognizing that Lifelong Formation occurs across a continuum, not in isolated, age-segregated communities.

What have these program offices accomplished during the last triennium?

These offices have actively sought out partnerships with other Church Center ministries to do this work.  Here are some of the things that have been done together:

  • Children’s Program at General Convention.
  • Development of materials around the Doctrine of Discovery, together with Native American Ministries
  • Development of faith formation materials for use by military families before, during and after deployment, together with the Office of Federal Chaplaincies
  • Gatherings such as the New Community Gathering, together with Asian American, Black, Latino, and Native Ministries.
  • Developing resources and trainings for congregations engaged in ministries with Older Adults.
  • Promoting Children’s Advocacy through the distribution of The Seed of God materials, with Global Ministries.
  • Christian Formation trainings together with the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and the Diocese of Taiwan.
  • Working together with the Diversity Group as they trained Master Trainers to do their work through the lens of Faith Formation.
  • Building the Continuum Summit work with Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers.

What are the plans for the future?

Moving into the future, this office is needed to continue this work:

  • Identifying gaps in service – needs that are beyond the scope of a single diocese or province.
  • Continuing to work collaboratively to enable formation at every level of ministry in the Episcopal church and through our many networks and focus areas, such as  pending program development with the office of  Economic and Environmental Affairs.
  • Ensuring the continued “seamless” model of program delivery across all age and generational boundaries.
  • Connecting places that have identified needs with best practices discovered elsewhere in the church through observation and relationship that develop as this work continues.
  • Re-energizing our focus on Children’s Advocacy needs and possibilities.
  • Offering church-wide gatherings for the purposes of equipping formation ministers at all levels of the community.

The proposed budget suggests the functions of this ministry should “re-focus work to within dioceses.”  Will this work?

It has been proposed that the work of Formation ministries is best done on a provincial, diocesan or parish level.  The hard reality is that 40% of dioceses have no current staffing for formation ministries.  Less than 10% of dioceses have resource centers.  Perhaps some of this work could be done on this level, but most of the dioceses are not ready to receive this charge.  If this is the direction in which we wish to move as a denomination, we need a fully funded transition period of 3-6 years, in which this opportunity is taken on in an intentional and thoughtful manner.  It is a matter of justice to do otherwise, knowing that only a small percentage of U.S. congregations have faith formation staff at all.  There will continue to be a need, however, from a denominational perspective, for formation staff who can work from a “macro” level to look for the gaps – the very real ministry needs that are beyond the scope of a diocese or even a province to manage. 

  • Mary Ann Kolakowski, Province 1, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Kathy Bozzuti-Jones, Province 2, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Mary Lou Crifasi, Province 3, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Jenny Beaumont, Province 4, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Rev. Mary Perrin, Province 5, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Rev. Kathy Monson-Lutes, Province 6, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • Cynthia Spencer, Province 8, Member of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation

Download these Talking Points to share with your deputies and bishops.

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Campus Ministry: Talking Points

from the networks involving Episcopal Campus Ministries and Chaplains

Starting from a “zero base,” we consider the following support from The Episcopal Church’s budget to be vital:

  • A budget sufficient for a staff person whose responsibility is visioning, advocacy, and coordination for campus ministry throughout the Episcopal Church.
  • The resources (financial and technical) to know as much as possible what our several campus ministries in all of their variety are at any given time, and to maintain contact information available to that staff person, to one another, and to students who are seeking connection with our campus ministries.
  • The resources necessary to work with campus ministries “on the ground” on at least a provincial level, on issues of evangelism, creative liturgy, and best practices.
  • The resources necessary to organize an annual conference for Episcopal campus ministers, with meaningful programming.
  • The resources, information, and background necessary to offer training to new campus ministers at such a conference.
  • The resources necessary for provincial coordinators to consult together and to offer annual gatherings of both chaplains and students at a provincial or regional level. Dioceses should of course participate with funding and resources for this as well.
  • Funding for campus ministry start ups.  We would suggest that dioceses should commit funding for a period of years as a condition of receiving this money.

Why is Campus Ministry important to the life of young adults as well as the future of the Church? Read “A National Study of Collge Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose” from Spirituality in Higher Education from UCLA.

Download a pdf of these Talking Points to share with your bishops and deputies as they prepare to attend General Convention.

Identify yourself and your ministry – share your story!  

Seeds for New Life

by Genelda Woggon

Two seven year old girls miles, worlds and cultures apart bonded together through mutual delight in The Seed of God booklets brought to Bogata, Colombia by a family from Asheville, NC on a family vacation with a mission purpose in mind. Young souls nurtured in the giving and receiving of gifts.  Gifts to be enjoyed and explored together as potentially lasting friendships are formed. Friendships with each other and mutual friendships with the Good Shepherd whose story they read, each in their own language but on the same page. Being “on the same page” is but one step closer to building relationships for understanding that is foundational to world peace.

This is but one story of how these bi-lingual books are being used by the staff at the Episcopal Church Center in their partnership with private funding brings new life and joy to both those who give and those who receive.

Through the generosity of St Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation, Inc. in Salisbury, North Carolina, a Foreign Mission grant was made available to the Episcopal Church Center for the distribution of the English/Spanish edition of The Seed of God books to be used primarily with mission work in the dioceses of Province IX and other foreign mission places where the opportunity arises.  The fact that the books are best delivered by hand creates further opportunities for partnerships.

Certainly most of the books are distributed evenly to each of the dioceses by ECC staff, especially as Ruth Ann Collins, Staff Officer from the Office of Life Long Christian Formation visits these dioceses, attends regional gatherings and gives workshops at Christian Formation gatherings.  Other books are transported beyond Province IX by a variety of people from local Episcopal churches. This opens up greater possibilities of partnerships as the books become transported by folks traveling with their Companion Diocese, taking family vacations for Spanish Language immersion, or involved with a humanitarian type mission project.

Publishing by the Center for Children and Theology, these charming little booklets (in English and Spanish) are also being used with adults as well as with children.  The simple language and beautiful illustrations offers the Gospel in a nutshell as they invite hungry hearts to enter into the Good Shepherd’s love.

If the budget of the Office of Christian Formation and Vocations is removed, how will such partnerships continue and these types of connections be made?  

Genelda Woggon is the author of The Seed of God and lives with her husband, a retired priest, in Asheville, North Carolina. She is a trained catechist with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Liberating Ministry

from the Standing Commission on Ministry Development

Note: This article (and report) was passed along to the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education to share with the greater Church because the SCLLCFE has created a site for its resolutions leading up to General Convention. At the moment, there is no one central location on The Episcopal Church’s website where such a resource could be (easily) found that would prove helpful to the local congregation. Such a website is what is being proposed in A047: Develop an Online Learning Community .

The following resource was developed in response to resolution C080 of the 76th General Convention that:

  • “…call(s) upon the Executive Council, provinces, dioceses, and congregations to promote and develop the discernment that all of daily life and work is ministry, calling for the intentional exercise of the Baptismal Covenant promises in all sectors of public as well as private life…”
  • “…(and to) assist diocesan Commissions on Ministry to promote and develop programs that will engage baptized persons in ministry discernment, and support congregations in providing processes for such discernment in community…”

While the title of the original resolution was “Lay Ministry and Leadership Development” the language of the resolution itself used terms connected to the ministry of the baptized.  A full acceptance of those ideas requires us to address a fundamental truth about ministry.  The ministry of the church grows from a single shared root.  We are not born as “ordained ministers” vs. “lay ministers”.  We are born as children of God all of whom have a ministry given to us at baptism.

Too often “ministry” (and to a large extent “leadership”) is seen as a function of the ordained members of the church.  This puts an inappropriate and destructive burden on the clergy because they are asked to not only fulfill their own roles but take up a large portion of the role of the laity as well. This can be (and too often is) ruinous for the clergy while inhibiting the growth in faith of too many of the laity.  In the end God and his church are not as well served as they could and should be.  The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) reminds us that the church carries out its mission of restoring the world to unity with God through the ministry of all (emphasis ours) its members. It also points out that the ministers of the church includes lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons (Catechism, BCP p.518)

In the search for appropriate resources for lay ministry, we found it difficult to identify resources for lay ministry; available resources most often available for ordained ministry. The purpose of this resource is to offer a starting point for all the members of the church to find their roles within the Body of Christ.  Additionally it offers assets to assist the laity in developing their understanding of their ministry and growing in those roles.  Developmental assets for those called to ordination have a long and proud tradition in our denomination.  It is hoped that this will mark the beginning of an equally rich tradition for the laity that will support the clergy in their ministries, enrich the lives of the laity, strengthen the church in its pursuit of its mission all to the greater glory of God.

Download the entire bibliography here:

  • Liberating Ministry: A Resource for All the Baptized in English
  • Liberating Ministry: A Resource for All the Baptized in Spanish

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