Online Christian Formation Resources
Developing an Awareness of Online Christian Formation Resources
All leaders in The Episcopal Church––deacons, priests, bishops, and laity––are a part of facilitating lifelong formation and many do not readily have access to resources. Those whose ministry is specifically Christian formation often find themselves feeling isolated and without the resources they need to proficiently develop programs in their congregations for lifelong formation. Additionally, most dioceses and congregations do not have a staff person available to search the Internet for such resources. There are, however, many resources available on the Internet, but it takes a trained eye and an Episcopal ethos to sort through the already developed information that informs living out our Baptismal Covenant and the Five Marks of Mission.
Many individuals in The Episcopal Church, including members of Forma, are volunteers or part-time workers in Christian formation. This limit of time precludes from having the time to search the Internet to find resources usable in our dioceses and congregations. One must also have the capacity to filter through the immense amount of offerings to find the best and most appropriate resources for living out our Episcopal ethos. We believe that while all formation materials have value, there are some that speak more directly to the Episcopal ethos, and we believe that is an important distinction for our dioceses and congregations.
Not every congregation has someone who is a member of Forma. While Forma members are connected with one another through a listserv providing a space for questions, sharing, and connections, there are still many formation leaders who do not know of the vast amount of resources already present in the greater Episcopal community. Further, there are many in our churches that have developed their own curriculum and programs that would be beneficial to the wider Episcopal community if shared.
We affirm the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education’s call to Develop Awareness of Online Christian Formation Resources through a prominent tab or link on http://www.episcopalchurch.org that links to the plethora of other websites that are curated by Episcopalians from organizations, seminaries, and publishers. There is need for a central hub where a church volunteer could go to discover links to these vetted resources. Our Episcopal Church’s website, being a natural “first stop” for searching, should have an easily found and accessible webpage. The resources do not need to be created––they are already available. Local dioceses are best equipped for in-person resource consulting. Our Episcopal Church website should be a resource to dioceses and congregations to find curated digital and paper resources; it can be a waste of time and talent having multiple dioceses repeat this gather/curate/organize effort. We need The Episcopal Church to offer that central location that helps Christian educators and formation leaders communicate and make those connections. It should be a simple partnership with the Office of Communications and Office of Lifelong Christian Formation and Education. We further affirm the call to widely publicize this connection as well as to encourage dioceses and congregations to create links on their own websites to these resources. We encourage those who have developed resources to share them with the wider Church.
Download and share Forma’s Resolution A075 Forma Position Paper with your bishops and deputies.
A075: Develop Awareness of Online Christian Formation Resources
Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the Episcopal Church Center establish a prominent tab or link on the website of The Episcopal Church to give persons seeking Christian Formation resources access to websites that provide suitable Christian Formation resources, including the websites maintained by Forma, the Center for Spiritual Resources of the Diocese of Western North Carolina, Anglicans Online, and the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church Center publicize to dioceses, congregations, and Christian Formation leaders the availability of these websites that provide helpful Christian Formation resources, and be it further
Resolved, That dioceses and congregations with websites consider including links to websites that provide suitable Christian Formation resources; and be it further
Resolved, That Christian Formation leaders throughout The Episcopal Church be encouraged to share with these websites suitable formation resources that they themselves have developed.
There are a number of electronic resource hubs that provide easy online access to, and a workable index of, resources for Christian Formation. This resolution urges The Episcopal Church to make the existence and content of resource hubs more widely known and available to Episcopalians at all levels. The resource hubs are especially helpful to small congregations. Some of the currently available electronic resource hubs are maintained by Forma, by the Faith Formation Learning Exchange, by the Center for Spiritual Resources of the Diocese of Western North Carolina, by Anglicans Online, and by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.
The Episcopal Church can be a “connector” to help coordinate access to the resources that exist both inside and outside the Church today by creating a prominent tab or a link on its website (http:// http://www.episcopalchurch.org) to serve as a portal for any church or individual seeking materials to support ministry in the area of Christian Formation.
The Church Center should also make congregations and Christian Formation ministers aware of the electronic resource hubs. Most dioceses and congregations do not have a staff member to search for program ideas and resources from the greater Episcopal community in the area of Faith Formation. The internet greatly reduces that isolation, but it takes a trained eye and an Episcopal ethos to analyze the vast amount of content that is found on the web that can inform living out our Baptismal Covenant and the Five Marks of Mission.
Finally, many Christian Formation leaders in congregations have developed materials that they use and which would be helpful to others. This resolution requests that these Christian Formation leaders submit these materials to the electronic resource hubs so they can be used by others.