Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the category “EYE”

Christian Formation at #GC78

GC%20logo15_colorThe 78th General Convention will soon be upon us. Bishops and Deputies have been busy reading “Blue Book” reports, studying the Triennial Budget, and digesting (and writing) blogs on the various issues to come before The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City June 25 – July 3, 2015.

There are many issues before our Church. The world is changing. Our Church is changing – some would say it is not, others would say it is changing too slow or too fast. However, the importance of Christian Formation has not changed at all.

Every General Convention raises issues of theological, liturgical, and formational concern. It has been acknowledged (a relatively new phenomena) that Christian Formation is the making of disciples of all ages: children, youth, young adults, adults, and older adults. It happens in a myriad of ways – through education, worship, pastoral care, fellowship, outreach, and service. Christian discipleship (walking in the steps of Jesus) means being his hands, feet, and voice to the world. How are we equipping disciples in the 21st century?

Many resolutions will be studied, discussed, discarded, rewritten, and/or adopted in Salt Lake City. This website, Building the Continuum, was developed in preparation for the 2012 General Convention (#77) in order to share some issues before the Church regarding Christian Formation. It is time to revisit the past as we work toward the future. This site has kept the documentation from 2012 and has added 2015. Many of these resolutions are of similar vein. Is anyone listening?

Those of us who are Christian formation leaders (and members of Forma) continually ask for resources in order to strengthen our ministry in our congregations. These resources are financial, programmatic, and theological. And every General Convention our cry is the same – please support us. Don’t cut us from the budget (on the parish, diocesan, or church-wide level) first (which happens much too often).

Particular issues to follow this time that will affect Christian Formation:

  • Grant for Forma in the budget
  • Funding the Office of Formation and Vocations (church wide office that supports children, youth, young adult, and older adult ministry)
  • Episcopal Youth Event and Young Adult Gatherings (all church wide)
  • Confirmation
  • Safeguarding God’s Children and Safeguarding God’s People materials and training
  • Web Resources – online and their communication to the wider church
  • Curricular Resources – for the environment, interfaith issues, and more
  • Seminary education – its future, delivery, and accessibility
  • Provinces and networks

You can learn more on Forma’s website, as well as following Forma on its Facebook Page, the Facebook Group and on Twitter in the coming weeks.

Welcome back, as we continue to Build the Continuum of lifelong Christian formation and education for The Episcopal Church.

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Sine die

The 77th General Convention has now concluded and those who attended this “family reunion” and “legislative mega-meeting” are home still catching up on sleep and resting weary feet. Although with the gavel concluding the last session of the House of Deputies with sine die, we know the work is never truly completed, but to simply be continued on another day.

The Education Committee (a cognate group of 28 individuals from the House of Bishops and House of Deputies) met almost daily to deliberate on numerous resolutions that came before them. Under the leadership of Porter Taylor (Bishop, Western North Carolina) and Debbie Stokes (Deputy, Southern Ohio), each member of the committee engaged in conversation as well as questioning the numerous of individuals (many from Forma) who testified to various resolutions, including many that have been brought forward on Building the Continuum.

A re-cap of resolutions regarding Christian Formation that have been discussed on this site:

Equipping the Baptized Five resolutions (A041, A042, A043, A044, A045) were related to bringing the Constitution or Canons into conformity with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which teaches that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 299). These resolutions, discussed as a whole, received passionate testimony from those “pro” and those “con.” Many who were against these resolutions felt it they would remove the Rite of Confirmation from our churches. Those who spoke for the resolutions were articulate about our understanding of Baptism as full membership in the church. In committee, deputies were much more open to making changes in the canons, while bishops were not. It became quite apparent that The Episcopal Church needs to further explore and delve into what Confirmation means on all levels of the church. It was also apparent that the practice of preparation for Confirmation differs widely in the church and the preparation used for leaders (such as Vestry) into the history, doctrine and polity of The Episcopal Church is just as nebulous. Despite these resolutions not passing (being rejected in Committee) they were discussed in both Houses, allowing for the first of what will be hopefully many conversations to continue in the next triennium about what the role of Confirmation is in the life of our church. A042, A043 and A044 were sent back for further study to the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. A041 was rejected.

Commend Continued Development of Lifelong Christian Formation (A046) included recognition for Forma (language was changed to reflect the name change of NAECED). It was adopted by the House of Deputies and concurred by the House of Bishops. Another words, General Convention commends the continuing development of lifelong Christian formation and supports those in leadership positions to continue their learning! It was

Develop An Electronic Community (A047) passed the Education Committee easily after discussion and learning of several other similar resolutions – one that was being discussed in Ministry Development and another in Communications. This particular resolution called for an impartial Christian FORMATION hub linking the many resources that are available all in one location. However, when it arrived at the House of Deputies, a deputy of the Structure Committee immediately called that it be tabled as it had funding implications (and a budget had yet to be produced) as well as the undercurrent themes of desiring structural changes in the church throughout convention. This resolution seems to have been left on the table with no action taken.

A Response to the Call of The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation: A Call to Action (A151) regarding Older Adult ministries was approved in the Education Committee but failed in the House of Deputies.

The Budget!!!! This was perhaps the highest area of energy folks had going in to General Convention (besides changing the structure of the church). We entered into General Convention with two proposed budgets – one from Executive Council which had almost eliminated the Office of Christian Formation and Vocations line items. A new proposal from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was offered (an unheard of occurrence) that was based on the Five Marks of Mission. Numerous Christian formation leaders attended the three hearings scheduled by Program, Budget & Finance; many spoke (Barbara Ross, Vicki Garvey and Wendy Barrie notably) about the importance of lifelong Christian formation. Many youth and young adults also spoke to the importance of EYE, campus ministries and chaplaincies.

A new resolution came before the Education Committee (D037) which called for some funding to be added back into the budget. In its wisdom, the committee rewrote the resolution, adding enough monies to completely fund the Office of Formation and Vocation as it had been in the past triennium. When it came to the floor of the House of Deputies (House of initial action), members of the Education Committee were lined up at the podiums ready to speak. Debbi Rodahafer (Diocese of Kentucky) called the question and it was overwhelmingly approved. The House of Bishops concurred. All was left in the hands of Program, Budget & Finance . . . who brought forth a budget grounded in the Five Marks of Mission, including block grants for eradicating poverty, mission enterprise zones, planting new churches and projects that are collaborative in nature. Specifically for the issues addressed on this website:

Mark #2: Teach, baptize and nurture new believers

Goal: To strengthen Province IX for sustainability in Latin America – $1,000,000

The Office of Lifelong Christian Formation & Vocations – Total $2,875,394 (slightly less than the 2010-2012 budget).

  • Bridging the Gap – funds for lifelong Christian formation to include evangelism & formation as vocation and faith formation resource development – $250,767
  • Formation & Vocation – for networks – building the capacity by affirming and assisting emerging networks and increasing connectivity – $310,447
  • Campus Ministry grants – $300,000
  • Events & gatherings – including EYE, Young Adult Festival and student gatherings – $609,167
  • Other department costs – including travel for staff – $176,400
  • Staff costs – salaries and benefits – $1,247,764

Other funding in this area included the College of Bishops which provides formation to those newly elected to the Episcopate. View the entire 2013-2015 budget here. View a posting of the importance of educators begin advocates at Rows of Sharon.

General Convention is over – but the ministry continues! 

Be the Revolution. Make Your Stories Heard.

by Janie Simonton

Welcome to EpiscoYouthProject 2012, designed to collect stories from everyone concerned about the budget changes for youth and young adults in the Episcopal Church. These changes, which will result in an approximately 90% funding cut for these ministries, have not been approved yet (more information here), which is where we come into play.

Our goal is to make voices heard, quite literally, by uploading personal stories and reasons why we disagree with the allocation of funds (or lack thereof) for youth. Please feel free to upload your own personal story (preferably less than a minute) explaining who you are, why this is important to you, and why you don’t think this proposed budget should come to fruition. While we recognize that there are those who may be viewing this that are in support of the youth funding cut, we ask that they refrain from uploading personal videos here and instead post it elsewhere.

Thank you and happy uploading!

From Building the Continuum: While this is a youth (ages 13-18) & young adult (ages 18-35) project, wouldn’t it be interesting to have children and Christian educators post their own stories? 

 Janie Simonton, a young adult in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, began the “EpiscoYouthProject 2012” on You Tube, with a Facebook page in April 2012. 

Implications to Formation if Funding Goes Away

The Episcopal Church Proposed Budget for 2013-2015 has proposed a 90% cut to the Formation and Vocation Ministries Team which includes the offices for Youth, Young Adults, Campus Ministry, and Lifelong Christian Formation, including Children’s Ministries.  To help the Church understand the real implications of what this budget means, we have looked through the Formation and Vocation Reports to Executive Council over the last 2.5 years, and pulled together the lists below.  While it does not represent each minute detail, it does represent the immense and broad work that these offices do each triennium.  We invite you to take some time to look closely at each bullet point and consider if that piece of the budget goes away, what will it mean for the children, youth, campus ministries, and young adults throughout the church.

Formation and Vocation Office: General

  • Partnering and Collaborating with Forma (formerly NAECED)
  • General Convention Youth, Young Adult, and Children’s programming and presence
  • Formation and Vocation Newsletters and resources
  • Building the Continuum Summit work with Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers
  • Collaboration on resources such as the work done with Doctrine of Discovery
  • Joint Network meetings to discuss and collaborate with one another across the age ranges: Children, Youth, Young Adults, Adults and Older Adult ministries
  • Social Media presence
  • Blogs and Web presence
  • Ecumenical Partnerships
  • Newsletters and Communication from the Denominational Staff about formation, resources, events, people, etc.
  • Support and Networking with Diocese and Provinces
  • Episcopal Generations initiative to bridge the gaps to work toward evangelism and mission as the Body of Christ

Youth

  • Ministry on behalf of young people and the Episcopal Church grounded in the Five Marks of Mission in order to keep moving forward with intentionality in mission through outreach and evangelism.
  • Building relationships, connecting and resourcing with those responsible for Youth Ministry and Lifelong Christian Formation and Vocation
  • Meeting with Youth Ministry networks at the Provincial and Diocesan levels, and with affiliated organizations such as Forma (formerly the National Association for Episcopal Christian Education Directors – NAECED) and our seminaries working on continuing education for Lifelong Christian Formation volunteers and professionals
  • Episcopal Youth Event
    • mentoring leadership with youth on EYE Mission Planning Team
    • giving church wide exposure to youth who may not have experienced richness of our diversity in their local faith community context
    • developing follow-up resources from keynotes and workshops
    • establishing personal connections for future mission and ministry
    • Doing something big together to make an impact in the church and in the world (gifts to ERD, Haiti, UTO & Habitat for Humanity)

Read more…

What Sets My Heart on Fire

by Sophia Reeder

I attended the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) in Minnesota this summer. It was an event filled with faith and fun, an event in which I found God, found friends, and found myself. One of the common sayings during EYE was “Are you on fire?!” To which one would respond “I’m on fire, are you on fire?!” What we meant was on fire with the Holy Spirit. EYE, along with the myriad of other church events I have attended since eighth grade, served to foster my faith, helping it to grow by leaps and bounds. My faith is what sets my heart on fire.

The first church event I ever attended was during the winter of my eighth grade year. It was a weekend retreat titled Winter Conference, and it would change my life forever. After that weekend I was hooked. I was inconsolable when I had to leave behind all my newly made, but deeply forged friendships. I joined a social networking site for the sole purpose of keeping in touch with these friends, and was back again for the next retreat. Returning to my everyday life was like leaping headfirst into a pool of ice cold water. Interactions with my classmates seemed far different, and not near as genuine as interacting with my church camp friends had been. I couldn’t wait to go back. Since then I have lost count of the number of summer camps and weekend retreats I have attended. What I do know is how profoundly they changed me.

These events fostered not only my faith, but my character as well. I became more confident in myself, more open-minded, more compassionate. I discovered that I have a passion for public speaking, for using my words and my voice to change the lives of others. During these events there are always several talks given, usually by the older participants. I gave my first talk during 10th grade. I love being able to share my faith with others, to help them through difficult times in their lives, to watch them grow in faith as I have. My faith guides me to seek out and help others whenever possible, to treat my enemies as my friends, and to practice wasteful love and radical acceptance. This is what sets my heart on fire. Read more…

Friendships Made through Mission

by Boyd Evans

Note: This is one example of how EYE impacts youth from local congregations and dioceses in connecting with one another and the wider church through mission. 

On Sunday, June 26 many of the groups attending the Episcopal Youth Event left for a three-day mission experiences.  Caitlin Peabody from St. John’s Cathedral along with Alexis Burnham, Patrick Dobbins and chaperone Boyd Evans from St. Stephen’s Oak Ridge joined a group totaling 51 teenagers (rising sophomores to college freshmen) and 30 adult leaders from the Province IV Southeastern Diocese to travel to Northern Minnesota for a mission experience at the Red Lake Nation.  This trip was coordinated by Cookie Cantwell and Beth Crow from the Diocese of North Carolina. The Red Lake reservation is home to the Ojibwe tribe of Native Americans.  The Ojibwe are sometimes referred to as “Chippewa” as this was the pronunciation of early explorers to the area.

On the five-hour bus ride from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Northwestern Minnesota, the youth and adults learned about the history of the Ojibwe in Red Lake and watched the video “Unseen Tears: A Documentary on Boarding School Survivors”.  Unseen Tears tells the story of how children of Native American families in the early 20th century were removed from their families and sent to off-reservation boarding schools in which they were not allowed to speak their native language or practice their native culture in an effort to assimilate them into American society. Tragically, many cases of abuse and neglect were documented from these schools as well as a loss of native language and culture for a generation of Native Americans. Read more…

Being Part of the “Larger” Church

2010 Provincial Youth Ministry Coordinators

By Lydia Kelsey Bucklin

I was 15 years old when my life was changed by the Episcopal Youth Event.  Coming from the small diocese of Northern Michigan, most churches were too small for youth groups, and even diocesan events were small and few in number.  My dad was a priest in the diocese, and I was nervous about joining that community.  EYE, however, sparked my interest.  An opportunity to travel to another city and meet youth from all over the Episcopal Church sounded exciting.  I felt like an outcast in high school, and struggled with depression and low self-esteem.  I needed to get away, and I could not have entered a better community than the Episcopal Youth Event in Terre Haute, Indiana.  There, on the campus of Indiana State University, I felt accepted for who I was.  I interacted not just with other teenagers, but with adults who were genuinely interested in me and were glad I was there.

Sixteen years later, I have a vocation in the Episcopal Church, serving as the Missioner for Children and Youth and on the Communications team in the Diocese of Iowa.  I am pursuing a Masters in Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School.   I also serve on the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education.  It may seem like an exaggeration to say that I would not be who I am today if I had never attended EYE, but it was definitely a transformative event in my faith journey.

As a youth, I returned from EYE committed to finding my place in the church.  I became a camp counselor and got more involved in diocesan events.  I became an advocate for social justice at a young age and pursued a career in social work.   I know many others, too, who, because of the ways the Episcopal Church impacted them at a young age, have had their lives changed.  For this reason I feel the need to speak up. Read more…

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