Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the category “The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation”

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.

Related articles

Ministry to Children with a Deployed Parent

Old Army Tank

Old Army Tank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Janie Stevens

Several years ago I was invited to work on a project with Ruth Ann Collins, Staff Officer for Lifelong Christian Formation and Bishop George Packard, Suffragan Bishop to the Chaplains and several other folks.  Our task was to write a program for those deployed and their families that would include a liturgy for leave-taking and one for returning, a Bible study that both the deployed and the at home family members would participate in and a book program for both the deployed and children at home.  These activities would give them something to talk about besides problems when they had their phone calls and to stay connected with each other.

We journeyed to Ft. Hood to visit with some families about things they wished the church would do for them.  One young officer was leaving his children at the preschool at the church where we were and I asked him if he had a minute for a question.  He had just returned from his third tour of duty in Iraq and was anticipating another tour there or in Afghanistan in the near future.  I asked him what he wished the church would do for him.  “The church needs to teach young people how to pray before their tank gets shot,” he said.  “It’s too late then to learn how to pray.”

The resource referred to here, Across the Miles, was published jointly by the Office of Lifelong Christian Formation and the Office of Federal Ministries and is an example of how a church-wide office for Christian Formation can bring the grassroots level together to create a needed resource that otherwise might not come to fruition. 

Several years later, I was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer.  Depression set in and I found myself in the darkest place I had ever been.  I felt that God was nowhere near.  One day I remembered what this young officer had said.  I told my priest who was visiting me that day that I felt that my tank had been shot.  She asked me more of the story and we determined that in fact I did know how to pray, that I did know that God was always there and that I should get busy doing what I certainly knew how to do.  My own prayers and the prayers of many people, known and unknown, were answered.  Today I am cancer free and my prayer life has taken on a deeper and more meaningful life.  By the way, the next morning after my friend’s visit, a very small army tank was found on our porch.  This outward and visible symbol of grace has a prime spot on our kitchen island.  Today it is sitting on a tray filled with Easter grass, Easter eggs and our Easter tree.

We are called in the church to be advocates for children – to advocate for their rightful place in the church, to help them find their ministry and to honor them.  We are called to invite, inspire and watch the transformation of lives that occur when people feel God’s love and our Christian love present.  People yearn for acceptance, love and a feeling of wholeness.  This transforming love is the Gospel message we hear every Sunday, it is what we are called to do in our Baptismal Covenant promises – to pray, to learn, to repent, to love, to teach, to respect.  These are lifelong promises.

Janie Stevens is a member of the Standing Committee for Lifelong Formation and Education.  Previously she served 25 years in 2 small/midsize congregations and as the Missioner for Christian Formation for the Diocese of Texas for 10 years.  She has also served on provincial, national and international Christian Formation boards and committees. 

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…

Why should Christian formation be a priority for the Church?

by Jenifer Gamber
When a person becomes a member of the Church through baptism, his or her first promise is “to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.” This first of five promises in the Baptismal Covenant acknowledges the centrality of formation to fulfilling the mission of the Church as articulated in the final three promises – to proclaim the good news, to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to strive for justice and peace.

Through formation we know ourselves as created in the image of God so that we can represent Christ and the Church.  Through formation we nurture a relationship with God to bear witness to him. Through formation we come to know the gifts God has given us to reconcile the world. Formation is a life-long journey, a responsibility of and for all ages – children (0-12), youth (13-18), young adults (18-35), adults (over 35) and older adults (over 65) that happens through a multitude of opportunities for learning and reflection in many contexts – the home, community, congregations, camps, and institutions of higher learning, among others. People are formed by all aspects of their lives, and the Church must claim its role to form who we are as God’s people, as members of the Church, and Christ in the world.

Jenifer Gamber is a board member of Forma, Confirmation leader at The Cathedral of the Nativity in Bethlehem, PA and popular retreat leader. She is also the author of “My Faith, My Life: A Teen’s Guide to the Episcopal Church,” “Your Faith, Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church” and “Call on Me: A Prayer Book for Young People.”

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…

Finding Peace in God at the Center of the Storm

by Lisa Kimball

By now most of you have become aware of the Executive Council’s proposed budget for the 2013-2015 Episcopal Church triennium, which reduces the Christian formation and vocations line item (all things children, youth, young adult, adult and older adult) from $3 million to $286,000. This 90 percent cut is explained as devolution or subsidiarization – the theory that in this extended season of economic strain, Christian formation is most effectively delivered and sustained at a more local level – province, diocese, or congregation.

Church-wide program cuts were anticipated in response to the continuing precipitous decline in membership and commensurate diminished voluntary giving by dioceses (optimistically estimated at 19 percent of diocesan budgets). The proposed budget virtually eliminates denominational staffing, resources, and programming for Christian formation. To make matters worse, the parish and diocesan structures from which Christian formation leadership is intended to devolve are themselves under severe stress. The aggregate number of staff layoffs far exceeds new hires as congregations and dioceses undergo “restructuring.”

It is no wonder the budget news has sparked a firestorm of indignation and protest. People are talking, blogging, organizing, petitioning and, yes, even praying! Perhaps this is not all bad. Oscar Wilde once said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” and then there’s always the popular (if debatable) adage, “any publicity is good publicity.” Christian formation is certainly getting press.

While there is much amiss with the process and priorities revealed in the proposed budget, the outcome may yet be holy (see the blog by Thomas Ferguson, Bexley Hall Seminary Dean, Crusty Old Dean). After over 30 years of hard, intentional work surrounding the baptismal covenant (inspired by the liturgical revisions of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer), the language and practices of faith formation across the life span are beginning to take hold. 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…

Ministry with Children in The Episcopal Church

St. Thomas Episcopal Church
College Station, Texas

A story of faith, passion and wonder ….

by Robyn Szoke

In February of this year, C. Kirk Hadaway, the Staff Officer for Congregational Research and Diocesan and Congregational Ministries, presented some statistics to Executive Council. From 2004 to 2010, Church School enrollment in Episcopal congregations has declined by 33 percent. The number of child baptisms in Episcopal congregations has declined by 36 percent. Moreover, the Episcopal Church’s average Sunday attendance has fallen by 17 percent, while membership declined by 13 percent.

To begin to respond to these changes, it might be helpful to remember the hopes, the dreams, and the passion that the Episcopal Church had for children’s ministry and formation and, indeed, lifelong formation between 1985 and 2009.  Those years were an amazing time. They were alive with vision, ideas, and a commitment to the cultivation of formation – particularly children’s formation and formation within the household.

Looking back, it seems that the theology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer helped to launch a grassroots mission movement for advocacy with and ministry to (and for and by) children. By 1990, this mission movement had really taken hold. That year, the Episcopal Church Center’s Office of Children’s Ministries began to gather children’s ministry specialists from around the nation. Their mission was to engage in deeper conversations about how best to serve children, including how best to fully include them in our worship communities and the prophetic notion of listening and hearing their voice.

The result of these conversations was that the Office of Children’s Ministries, along with 22 dioceses from all of the Episcopal Church’s provinces, developed and published a most amazing document: the Children’s Charter for the Episcopal Church. (In Spanish) Adopted by General Convention resolution 1997-B005, it provided a model – a standard of excellence – and accountability for congregational, diocesan, and provincial leadership.

Fueled by the publication of the Children’s Charter, the mission movement flourished. Design teams were created. Through the wisdom and hard work of provincial formation leaders, events were held, Charting a Course for Children in the Church which led to strengthening partnerships with the National Council of Churches and the Children’s Defense Fund. Through these teams and partnerships, we were able to hold events, gatherings, and conferences to advocate for children. In addition, a wonderful mission magazine was developed. Called Treasure Magazine, it was designed so that children ages 6 to 9 could read and learn about mission throughout the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.  At the same time the youth ministry office and young adult ministry office was also flourishing. Read more…

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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