Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Archive for the tag “Lifelong Christian Formation”

Spread the Word with an Elevator Speech

elevator-speechThe 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church begins next week and there are several resolutions that Forma would like the Church to be aware of that impact Christian Formation.

Forma’s Advocacy Committee researched and wrote position papers (approved by the Forma Board of Directors) on the following resolutions.

If you are a Christian educator, youth minister, Episcopal camp or conference center staff person, or Sunday School teacher these resolutions will affect you in one way or another. They will affect every congregation and ministry in the Church. Yes, this is a radical statement, but how we prioritize the importance of Christian Formation is often shown in where we choose to budget our staff, resources, time, and money.

Each of the above resolutions have Forma’s position papers for reading and downloading in order to share with your bishop/s or deputies. If you don’t know who they are, here is the link to all diocesan deputations. They are packing their suitcases now, why not send them an e-mail with your thoughts and a position paper or two to read on the plane? Get your talking points from Jane!

Jane Gober, a Christian educator in Walla Walla, Washington (Diocese of Olympia) and member of the Advocacy teams shares her thoughts at A Blissful Irreverent in Life and Ministry about some of these resolutions.

  •  Safe Serving A073 & A074. Ever think that training to be a certified mixologist was like taking Safe Guarding God’s Children training? Jane has the experience to talk about both. Here are her talking points, but her essay is well worth the read, and will definitely give you some food (and angst) for thought. Safeguarding Virtual Elevator Speech: Approve the updates to prevention of misconduct Model Policies in A073; Approve the updates to the training materials in A074; Make sure that both the Policies and the Training Materials have input of the people on the ground doing this work; Make sure that they both deal with social media/technology and establishing gracious methods to minister with our LGBTQ friends and colleagues.
  • She’ll give you a virtual elevator speech for why we need an online resource center at the church-wide level (A075). Let the Special BE Special (that’s all of us): Approve the creation and curation of a central digital hub of Christian formation and education resources through DFMS/Episcopal Church Website. This action will serve the questions and needs of the local mission of the church in all dioceses, cease needless and wasteful repetition of identical cataloging, empower and share the best resources for the Episcopal Church’s mission of discipleship.
  • Budget Decimation for Lifelong Christian Formation: The draft Budget offered to the 78th General Convention makes significant cuts to the second mark of ministry TEACH. This area of mission is the life-giving nurture for all the areas of mission. Changes need to be made to appropriate healthy funding for both the DFMS office and FORMA. Approve needed funding for: Youth and Young Adult Events such as EYE, the Lifelong Formation office of DFMS, the FORMA grant from some place in the budget other than the Lifelong Formation Office’s budget line.

Follow Forma on Twitter and Facebook during General Convention to learn what’s going on on the ground in Salt Lake City.

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

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…

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