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.
- Forming All Generations in Faith: A Position Paper (buildingthecontinuum.wordpress.com)
- Implications to Formation if Funding Goes Away (buildingthecontinuum.wordpress.com)