Building the Continuum

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Archive for the tag “children”

Resolutions Passed: Children

The following are resolutions passed at recent General Conventions that focus on The Episcopal Church’s call for ministry to, with and for children. It should be noted that according to budget allocations, children are considered those from 0 – 12 years of age.

2000-D045: Affirm and Urge Consideration of the Centrality of Children to the Ministry of the Church 

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention affirm that children are central to the mission of the Episcopal Church and ask each committee, commission, and program of the Episcopal Church, as it plans for the future, to consider how its ministry will positively impact the lives of children in the church and in the world, how it will be impacted by children, and how it will encourage children’s full participation in the worship and mission of the church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention affirm and lift up “A Children’s Charter for the Church” as a continuing vision of The Episcopal Church’s ministry in nurturing children, ministering to and advocating on behalf of children, and supporting children in their ministries, remembering that “it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14 NRSV); and be it further

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention ask each diocese to continue to build awareness and increase implementation of “A Children’s Charter for the Church,” and live out its vision locally.

The original resolution regarding the Children’s Charter was adopted in 1997 – Resolution B005 

2003-A077: Develop Strategies for Ministries with Children, Youth and Young Adults

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention adopt a vision as part of the 20/20 initiative that there shall be effective, well-organized ministries with children, youth, and young adults in every congregation where appropriate; and there shall be campus ministries in all colleges and universities where appropriate; and be it further . . . (read more of this resolution here)

2006-D059: Provide Child Care Facilities at General Conventions

Resolved, That the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangement be directed to make age appropriate care and educational programs available for children birth to age twelve available for the duration of the 76th General Convention and all future General Conventions; and be it further

Resolved, That all dioceses and provinces be encouraged to provide similar services for conventions and synod meetings.

2009-D085: Considering the Transformative Stories of Child Ministry

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention applaud the work of the Children’s Charter for the Church and calls for the next phase of the work of the Children’s Charter for the Church by requesting the Center for Evangelism and Congregational Life, lift up the stories of the ministry of the child in order to educate and transform the Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance consider a budget allocation of $40,000 for the implementation of the resolution during the 2010-2012 triennium; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention request the Center for Evangelism and Congregational Life report to the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education before the 77th General Convention on the status of the continued implementation of the Children’s Charter for the Church.

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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…

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…

Needed: A Theology of Children

by Jerome W. Berryman

A 90% cut is not a budget cut. It is a statement.

Budgets are statements of values. The proposed budget for 2013-2015 appears to be a formal declaration of indifference for those who make decisions about funding the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church regarding our church’s theology of children!

At the same time, the real action is not at the “national” church. The real action is in the parishes, where you are.  On the same day the budget was released I heard about yet another Christian educator getting sacked. I also received an email from the rector of a church in Oxford, UK, where they are going to extend the west end to make a welcoming place for children with a Godly Play room, and when it is not in use it will be a place to welcome adults. There’s the future. When we welcome children we welcome Jesus and the one who sent him.

The theology is in the details and there is theology at work in this, unconscious though it may be.

It may be that we are struggling with a theology that advocates ambivalence (advocates unconsciously both a high and a low view of children at the same time), ambiguity (advocates unconsciously never being clear about what we mean by the word “children” when we talk about them), indifference (advocates unconsciously never talking about children at all), and grace (advocates unconsciously that children are a means of grace necessary for the church’s being, especially as the Kingdom).  I bring this up, because we need to make this unconscious theology more conscious, so we are no longer controlled by it. Read more…

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