Education in our church is not in a very good place. It is clear enough that change is needed, and many of us talk a lot about it. We sometimes perceive this change as something that we have no control over, and cast ourselves as victims playing out a tragedy. For example, when we attempt to understand and address huge financial challenges confronting us, we are often left in paralysis. We simply don’t seem to have sufficient resources to continue our mission of providing the best education at all levels of the church in the traditional way.
There is a way to look at change, however, embracing the opportunities it offers and lifting up lessons learned and progress made. And educational study group in the Episcopal Church has produced one very good recent example of this approach, tracing the highlights of education and formation over the past forty years. It is entitled Legacies, Lessons and Lifelines.
The place and role of learning in the church, then, represent a systemic issue and raise questions of mission and purpose. This is true at all levels: for congregational Christian education; for dioceses, synods or conferences; for national offices; for seminaries; for schools and colleges; and for much more. It is among the whole church and all of its educators, Protestant and Catholic, conservative and liberal, traditional and emergent, small and large, rural and urban, that this vision of learning – and the conversation it engenders – must take hold. Only when all of us are involved in addressing these larger issues will we indeed be able to live faithfully and successfully into the church’s mission.
At the church-wide level, there is a diminution of the infrastructure once devoted to education. Whether speaking of curricular support for Sunday Schools or other educational programs for the young, or ministry in higher education, or seminaries – there are fewer connections between these important areas of ministry at the local or regional levels and the national, primarily because sufficient funds are not allotted to make these educational endeavors a top priority for support. Read more…