Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the category “Standing Commission Christian Formation”

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.

Advertisements

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! 

Forming All Generations in Faith: A Position Paper

The following statement is a collaborative position paper from representatives of a variety of formation networks in The Episcopal Church. If you would like to add your name as an individual endorser to this document, please submit your name, church, diocese and role in Christian formation to spearson@cpg.org. You may also download this document here, to share with your bishops and deputies as they prepare for General Convention. 

FORMING ALL GENERATIONS IN FAITH

Christian Formation IS a Priority for The Episcopal Church

Why should this be a priority?

The Episcopal Church carries out God’s mission through the ministry of all its members, which is dependent on the formation and education of all ages – children (0-12), youth (13-18), young adults (18-35), adults (over 35) and older adults. This is a lifelong journey, requiring a multitude of opportunities for learning and reflection. Theological education takes place in many arenas: the home, community, congregation and institutions of higher learning.

Our Baptismal Promises commend us to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers. We are continually being formed as Christians by being equipped to proclaim the Gospel, offering service to others, advocating for justice and peace, and respecting all persons. It is a lifelong journey.

Why should we have a denominational formation office?

Of the 109 dioceses in The Episcopal Church . . .

  • ­15 dioceses (14%) have a staff person who oversees Christian formation that includes ministry to children and adults (lifelong)
  • 55 dioceses (50%) have a staff person who oversees youth and / or young adult ministry
  • 6 dioceses (5%) have a staff person whose sole responsibility is campus ministry (who are located in a diocesan office). This does not include all those dioceses who financially support chaplains on college campuses, of which there are many.
  • 10 dioceses (9%) have a Resource Center
  • 44 dioceses (40%) do not have any staff person to support any age level of (non-ordained) Christian formation ministries

What has The Episcopal Church said in recent years?

On the church-wide level, an Office of Christian Formation & Vocation can provide the threads to connect those networks who work within dioceses and congregations in addressing specific aspects of Christian education and formation that cannot be done on the local level. Providing a vision, encouraging partnerships, identifying available resources through a central hub and fostering a holistic approach to lifelong Christian formation throughout The Episcopal Church can strengthen the ministry on the local level. Let this next triennium be a time when The Episcopal Church can develop strategies to strengthen diocesan and local networks. Together, we can continue the work that has just begun:

  • The Five Marks of Mission calls Episcopalians to live out our faith in today’s world. Through education, we are equipped to live out Christ’s mission in the world. Mission and evangelism require an educational foundation that continually needs renewal.
  • 2009 A082 affirmed the importance of formation in The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation
  • 2000 D045 affirmed that children are central to the mission of God, lifting up The Children’s Charter for the Church (1997 B005).
  • 2009 A083 directed dioceses to formulate a strategy for lifelong Christian formation in the next triennium (Over these past three years, how many dioceses actually did this?).
  • One third of The Episcopal Church is 65 years and older.
  • According to an Executive Council Briefing on 1/27/12 (Price & Hadaway), congregations with younger members (children and young families) are more likely to grow.  Families seek churches with strong Christian formation programs.

Christian education and formation is foundational to all that The Episcopal Church does – on the local, diocesan and church-wide level. Christian 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. For the Church to pass along the faith to future generations, its members must be equipped to experience, proclaim and invite others to share the Good News.

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

That IS the mission of God. It should be OUR priority.

Our future depends on it.

Read more…

Resolutions Passed: Christian Education

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 2:42, 44-47

Just as the early Church lived out its existence, we are faced with similar challenges today. Our total experience of Christian education and formation involves every facet of discipleship, at every age, when we:

  • Proclaim the word of Jesus’ resurrection (Kerygma)
  • Teach the sacred story and its meaning to our lives (Didache)
  • Come together to pray and re-present Jesus in the breaking of the bread (Leiturgia)
  • Live in community with one another (Koinonia)
  • Care for those in need (Diakonia)

The following resolutions have been passed at recent General Conventions related to lifelong Christian Formation – focusing on a holistic view and understanding that Christian education and formation as a faith journey encompassing all ages.

Going back to the 65th General Convention (1976), numerous resolutions have called upon The Episcopal Church to develop resources, create studies and lift up the importance of Christian education. A sampling:

  • 1991-D178: Requested that priority be given to Christian Education
  • 1997-A069: Include the Entire Life Span in the Church’s Educational Program
  • 1998-D178: (Executive Council) gives a high priority to Christian Education as expressed in the 1998 Presiding Bishop’s Task Force on Christian Education in Congregations (which led to the publication of Called to Teach and Learn)
  • 2000-B015: Support Development of Episcopal Educational Materials for All Ages – directs and provides funding for the Young Peoples’ Ministry Cluster (now known as the Offices of Formation and Vocations) to develop and distribute comprehensive Christian education materials for all ages

A shift occurred in 2003 when local educators from several networks and constituencies called for a more consistent understanding of what Christian formation was on a church-wide level, in our seminaries and local congregations. Two resolutions were passed: 2003-B024: Task Force on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation and 2003-A120: Convene a Strategic Planning Committee for Theological Education. Both were unfunded and went to Executive Council, who in their wisdom, combined them in 2004 to form a theological education “strategy team” consisting of 12 members to “strengthen the theological education, lifelong learning and Christian formation in the Episcopal Church. Appointed members of this Task Force consisted of representatives from the Standing Commission on Ministry Development, Office of Ministry Development, Ministries with Young People Cluster, Council of Seminary Deans, Deacons and local Christian formation leaders. They became known as PEALL – Proclaiming Education For All – and reported to Executive Council for the 2009 General Convention. Their task:

  • Develop a comprehensive vision and strategy to strengthen Lifelong Christian Education and Formation throughout The Episcopal Church and equip people of all ages to experience, to tell about and to invite others into the Good News of the Gospel;
  • Integrate Christian Formation into every area of the church’s mission and ministry, recognizing that learning occurs in multiple ways throughout the entire life cycle;
  • Identify and communicate resources and models that support the gifts and needs of a church of great diversity and that promote outcomes recommended by the 20/20 Strategy Group;
  • Encourage conversation and collaboration among the many entities in the church that address specific aspects of Christian Education and Formation for mission and ministry;
  • Provide international and ecumenical links for Christian Education and Formation

A comprehensive report with documents can be found here and includes “Legacies, Lessons and Lifelines.” At the 75th General Convention approved the following recommendations of PEALL: Read more…

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…

Why does The Episcopal Church need “The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation”?

The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation (A082) was overwhelming passed in both Houses at General Convention in 2009. Just three short years later, those who drafted the proposed 2013-2015 budget seem to have forgotten this imperative to lift up the importance of Christian formation for all ages – children, youth, young adults, adults and older adults – in our congregations, dioceses and church-wide structures. It was a resolution that had endorsements from a broad range of networks: Forma, NOERC, Episcopal Camps & Conference Centers, Seminaries to name a few. The rationale for this resolution that the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Education and Formation presented still rings true today.

Sadly the statistics that are given here are now dated, but the numbers have only gotten more disheartening since 2009, with many dioceses and numerous congregations laying off lay and ordained staff in the areas of Christian formation.

  • 30% of Forma members desired more Christian formation resources be made available for the local setting. (2008)
  • 50% Forma members desired their dioceses to be supportive of local Christian formation (not including clergy formation programs) by providing a staff person and/or better communication and networking opportunities. (2008)
  • Sociologist of religion have found a correlation between church growth and youth involvement that is consistent across different types of churches – liberal, moderate and conservative. In all these churches, the greater the youth involvement, the greater the church’s growth. Specifically, 58% of growing churches said the level of youth involvement was high. (FACT 2000)
  • Christian education must be viewed holistically, not as a separate entity. Every aspect of a church’s ministry contains educational implications. Basic principles of teaching and learning include: involving everyone in the process, being sensitive to needs of participants, having a clear focus on what is to be communicated and accomplished, enabling participants to make connections between the subject matter and their own lives, providing opportunities to give expression to what they think and believe, and motivating them to put into practice what they believe. (Search Institute, 1993).

The explanation that followed The Charter continues to be a message for the church today: Read more…

What IS General Convention?

The General Convention is the primary governing and legislative body of The Episcopal Church. With the exception of the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Constitution and Canons, it is the ultimate authority in the Episcopal Church. General Convention comprises two houses: the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. It meets regularly once every three years; however, the House of Bishops meets regularly in between sessions of General Convention. From July 3 – 12, 2012, General Convention will be convened in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You can learn more about the schedule of events, resolutions to come before the two houses, who the deputies and bishops are as well as more information on the General Convention 2012 official website.

All diocesan, coadjutor, suffragan, and assistant bishops of The Episcopal Church (active or retired) have seat and vote in the House of Bishops. Each  of the 109 dioceses in 16 countries of The Episcopal Church are entitled to representation in the House of Deputies by four clergy deputies, either presbyters or deacons, canonically resident in the diocese and four lay deputies who are confirmed communicants in good standing. Resolutions must pass both houses in order to take effect.

The convention is divided into committees which consider resolutions. Resolutions arise from four different sources: 1) “A” resolutions from interim bodies whose work is collected in what is referred to as the “Blue Book” 2) “B” resolutions which come from Bishops 3) “C” resolutions which come from dioceses and provinces and 4) “D” resolutions which originate from Deputies. Each properly submitted resolution is referred to a convention committee which makes its recommendation to the House. When one house has acted on the resolution it is sent to the other house for consideration.

The Education Committee (#15), a cognate committee comprising House of Bishops’ Legislative Committee #15 and House of Deputies’ Legislative Committee #15, will hear legislation regarding education and formation issues as assigned. Their meetings will occur throughout General Convention, often first thing in the morning. These meetings are generally open to the public and hearings are held so that the individuals may have their voice be heard regarding various issues. No one needs to be a deputy to speak at these hearings or attend to observe their deliberations. Resolutions from the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education will most likely be addressed by the Education Committee.

The House of Deputies is the house of Initial Action for resolutions that are assigned to the cognate committee #15. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (President of the House of Bishops) and Bonnie Anderson (President of the House of Deputies) determine which resolutions are sent to which Legislative committee for hearings and discussion before being sent to either house for a vote of approval or denial. Votes in committees are done by both Houses – a vote by bishops and a vote by deputies. Their representatives then report back to their House at its legislative committee.

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

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: