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Fall 2010 s Vol. 23, No. 1
Embarks on a New Era
We are entering a new era for Episcopal Teacher. Subscribers now can receive a full-color publication in the mail or by email. When we asked your delivery preference, about half signed up for email distribution—some expressing regret but wanting to be good stewards, practicing what they preached. The first issue of Episcopal Teacher was published in November 1986 as a monthly newspaper tabloid with 16 pages. The first editor, the Rev. Locke Bowman, was also the first director for the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Seminary. The subscription cost was $10 a year. Our subscribers asked us to consider a different format that would be easier to store and reference. In 1999 Episcopal Teacher underwent a major face lift. It became a 16-page magazine-style publication that was issued four times a year at no cost to subscribers. The seminary picked up the cost to continue its strong support of Christian education in the Episcopal Church. The coeditors of the revised publication were Amy Gearey Dyer and George Kroupa, familiar names to our long-time readers for their thoughtful contributions over the years. Current editors are Lisa Kimball and Dorothy Linthicum. As I leafed through past issues recently, the words of the wise Teacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes came to mind: What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl. 1:9) In photos hair styles, fabrics and skirt lengths have changed over the years, but the smiles and eagerness of children vary little. Seasonal ideas differ slightly with cultural shifts and new technology, but the gospel message presented through Christian formation is consistent throughout. Though Episcopal Teacher may have a new style and look, it will continue to include the content you have come to expect. We will write about topics facing educators in the church and support issues such as the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation. We will share ideas from educators throughout the country about seasonal and other formation activities—in this issue alone we have writers from South Carolina, Oklahoma (by way of Alabama), Massachusetts, Iowa, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia. We will review new publications and curricula that might impact your ministries. Several new features have been added, including a list of Christian formation conferences and workshops and suggested resources from the Key Hall Resource Room. We encourage you to share Episcopal Teacher with people in your congregations, especially those serving as teachers, mentors and leaders of Christian formation groups. The publication is still free, and you have a choice of delivery: mail or email. (See p. 15 for subscription information.)
Episcopal Teacher Editors Lisa Kinball Dorothy S. Linthicum
If you have ideas to share, please contact us. The quality of the content relies heavily on the contributions so many of you have made through the years. While there may not be anything new under the sun, there will always be new directors, superintendents and teachers looking for creative ways to tell others the Good News. —DSL
Episcopal Teacher · Fall 2010
From Key Hall
Around the Country
For more information about these events and others, go to: vts.edu/cmt/events October 10-13, 2010 Generous in Every Way: Growing a Fully Formed Faith Western Christian Educators’ Conference Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe, NV westernceconf.org/ October 22-25, 2010 Holy Spirit, Wild and Free Christian Educators’ Fellowship Biennial Conference Louisville, KY cefumc.org/displayconvention.cfm February 3-5, 2011 Equipping the Saints for the Work of Ministry Naeced Tapestry Conference Charlotte, NC naeced.org/conferenceoverview This is a new feature in Episcopal Teacher. To post information about an event that is open to participants throughout the country on the CMT webpage or in Episcopal Teacher, contact email@example.com.
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children abel. Albert. Las Posadas: A Christmas Musical for Children from the Mexican Tradition. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007. Las Posados introduces a creative and diverse way to celebrate the Christmas story in song and drama. Youth rooks, Bryan. Mission: Christmas—Youth Programs & Ideas for Advent. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005. Five programs for Sunday school, youth groups, or Bible study, with service projects, plans for parties, and worship ideas.
Intergenerational ohansson, Lois J. Hands And Hearts : Intergenerational Activities Throughout the Church Year. Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2006. Easy-to-follow instruction for activities based on the liturgical year to help congregations experience faith-based learning together. Adult human, Thom M. (Iona Community). The Jesse Tree: Daily Readings for Advent. Glasgow: Wild Goose, 2005. Introduces little-known biblical characters who are “branches” on the Jesse tree.
For a complete list of resources, go to: vts.edu/cmt/resources. Episcopal Teacher is the newsletter of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching located on the campus of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. It is printed four times a year. For information: 703-461-1885
Member of Associated Church Press. ISSN 0895-0830 On the cover: Mission group at Pamunkey Reservation in King William, Virginia; see p. 4 for story. Illustrations on pages 7 and 12 are copyrighted by Communications Resources, Inc. and are used with permission. Photo of beads on page 9 by Maffea.
Partnership Enhances Work/Study Mission Trip
By Malinda collier Parishes with small groups face difficulties in planning activities such as summer youth mission trips. One option is signing on with a packaged program organized outside the parish. Another option is to partner with another church. This summer 12 teens and young adults from St. Mark’s, Richmond, and Trinity Episcopal, Fredericksburg joined together to work and serve at the Pamunkey Reservation in King William, Virginia, the last week in June. The partnership resulted from a friendship that began at Virginia Theological Seminary and strengthened through diocesan committee work. Vicky Koch, Director of Christian Education at Trinity, began working with Nellie Adkins, educator and member of the Chickahominy tribe, who extended an invitation to bring a group of young people to the Pamunkey Reservation. Malinda Collier, Director of Christian Education at St. Mark’s, learned about the trip in January and quickly realized that it meshed with her hopes to provide a service/learning week for the St. Mark’s youth group. This was the first time the tribe had invited an outside group to the reservation. Teaching the young people from Richmond and Fredricksburg about Native American traditions was a primary goal. Adkins played a key role in planning the trip, meeting with Koch and Collier several times to discuss the educational activities of the mission week. The group was asked to help with landscaping the reservation’s museum and historic schoolhouse. They planted shrubs, weeded, edged, mulched, and trimmed bushes. At the same time, Adkins introduced the young people to ethno-botany, native food ways, language, and culture. Through Adkins’ efforts, the group was invited to visit the Native American center at William & Mary College in Williamsburg where doctoral candidate Ashley Atkins, a member of the Pamunkey Tribe, along with Dr. Danielle MorettiLangholtz, head of the center, led a “material culture” lesson about the life of Virginia Native Americans. Material culture is a way of extrapolating meaning from objects based on context and cultural assumption
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before actually learning about them. Participants did hands-on work with artifacts and looked at documents of the Virginia and western tribes both past and present. A second visit to Williamsburg offered another material cultural lesson and a walking tour of Gloucester Street, a primary thoroughfare, with Buck Woodard, head of Colonial Williamsburg’s Native American Initiative. He told the group stories about important places and events associated with Virginia tribes and the colonial capital. Both trips provided fascinating lessons about a past that was unknown to most and often distorted in history books and popular culture. The week ended at the reservation with an evening of storytelling, drumming and songs led by the chief, who also taught the group ceremonial dances. The group left the Pamunkey Reservation with the greatest gift, an invitation to return to both serve and grow in relationship with their native neighbors and friends. Key to the success of the partnership was the trust shared by the leadership team, the similarity of the cultures of the two parishes, an equitable division of labor and responsibility for the trip, and the willingness of participants to both learn and serve. The education component resulted in an untypical “pound nails and paint walls” mission trip. Another key factor in planning a trip involving another culture is having a representative of that group on the leadership team. Because the Diocese of Virginia is interested in offering similar trips next summer, the leadership team is writing a curriculum and program plan that can be used by other groups. If you would like to know more about this week of service and learning, contact Collier or Koch at the email addresses below. They would be happy to share their adventure. Wingapo Naptapewah! (Algonquin for: “Greetings my dear friends and family!”) Malinda Collier is Director of Christian Education, St. Mark’s, Richmond, dre@stmarksrichmond; Vicky Koch is Director of Christian Education, Trinity, Fredericksburg, vkoch@ trinity-fredericksburg.org.
Key to the success of the partnership was the trust shared by the leadership team, the similarity of the cultures of the two parishes, an equitable division of labor and responsibility for the trip, and the willingness of participants to both learn and serve .
Episcopal Teacher · www.vts.edu
Start Holiday Season With Advent Festival
By Allison Askins Going counter-cultural gets harder each Advent. The ads start rolling before Jack-O-Lanterns even have a chance to greet trick-or-treaters. What can a parish do? Consider offering an Advent Festival to help parishioners discover alternative ways to observe the weeks leading to Christmas. At an Advent Festival, they can focus on the power of preparing for a great celebration with meaningful purchases, intentional creativity, and acts of generosity that reach beyond the self to a broken world. This year the first Sunday in Advent falls immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, as it typically does. St. Martin’s, Columbia, SC, schedules its festival on the second Sunday in Advent, honoring the need for families to be out of town. The festival has stations for all ages, including one for the Cathedral bookstore, where books and lovely Advent gifts are available for purchase. Shoppers are told in advance that all proceeds benefit mission projects. Other stations include a place for children to decorate placemats for local nursing homes and to fill
holiday containers with Russian tea to be given to shut-ins or visitors during the Advent season. Tables for mission organizations offer alternative gifts suggestions to address great need in the world: Episcopal Relief and Development, the Heifer Project, and a local ministry that serves the community were featured at last year’s festival. Each organization provided catalogs, brochures and gift cards for people to take home after the festival. The festival also includes a sampling of Bishop’s Blend coffees (available through Episcopal Relief and Development), which support fair trade practices. Another station children make cinnamon clay ornaments to give as gifts. The pungent aroma of cinnamon serves as incense, creating holy space where people are doing God’s work, waiting and preparing their hearts for the newborn king.
Advent Festival Tips
• Plan early; determine stations and supplies needed. • Focus on ways to move people toward the deeper meaning of giving in the name of the Christ child. • Include a welcome station to greet attendees; provide each person a map of the stations. • Create table cards to mark each station. Provide clear instructions so people know and understand what they will be doing. Assign helpers for each table.
Episcopal Teacher · Fall 2010
Blessing of the Stockings
As part of a parish’s focus on Advent, consider a Blessing of the Stockings. At this occasion, follow a simple liturgy with an invitation to the children to bring their stockings to be blessed. The service works particularly well if you also include an outreach component such as stuffing stockings for the Salvation Army. After both types of stockings are blessed, have a conversation about the power of giving in secret. At St. Martin’s, our Blessing of the Stockings is held on St. Nicholas Day after lessons about the generous bishop who gave in secret so those without would have what they needed. —Allison Askins
• Create handouts about Advent websites along with information about activities families can do at home. These can be available at the welcome station or another area. • Play music and provide simple holiday refreshments to add to the festive feel of the occasion. Allison Askins is Director of Children and Family Ministries at St. Martin’s–in-theFields Episcopal Church, Columbia, SC.
For an Advent gathering, bring a nativity set that is not easily breakable. Put the figures in a basket and pass the basket around the circle. Ask each person to select the figure that they most identify with in the Christmas story.
With children: Consider doing this activity after
reading the Nativity story together as you introduce plans for a Christmas pageant.
With youth: Use this activitiy to open worship and
prayer. After sharing, ask each person repeat “Come Lord Jesus” as figures are placed in the creche setting.
With adults: After doing this activity, ask participants to share what the seasons of Advent and Christmas mean to them, or what they wished they mean for them and their families. —Amy Cook
Episcopal Teacher · www.vts.edu
Congregation Explores Stations of the Nativity
By sabrina evans
he Stations of the Nativity have been an Advent tradition at St. John’s, Montgomery, Alabama, for several years. Each year, it changes as different groups both add to it and take away from it. Last Christmas was the first year the congregation actually “traveled” throughout the building. In previous years, everything took place in the nave with symbols of the Infancy Narrative in the windows. In 2009, however, the creators wanted to make the experience more childfriendly and allow everyone to see the stations in a different way. The fourteen stations take the congregation through the entire Advent/Christmas season, beginning with the angel appearing to Zechariah and ending with the Holy Family returning to Nazareth. Two narrators read scripture at each station, except those with a storyteller using material from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd or Godly Play. Stations with dramatic presentations had several participants, who were asked to portray specific characters, reading their parts and responding to questions as best they could. Station “travelers” moved from place to place
station 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Theme Zechariah The Annunciation Visitation to Elizabeth Birth of John the Baptist Joseph’s Dream Birth of Jesus Shepherds and Angels Shepherds at the Manger Circumcision or Naming of Jesus Magi Presentation at the Temple Flight into Egypt Massacre of the Innocents Return to Nazareth
How Presented Drama – Zechariah and angel Storytelling Drama – Mary and Elizabeth Scripture reading Scripture reading and meditation Scripture reading and music Drama – Shepherds and angels Scripture reading. Artwork – ceramic angels, shepherds and sheep Banner with names of Jesus; recorded meditation Drama: Magi with three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh Storytelling Scripture reading with a display of maps and a suitcase Scripture reading with a display of a sword Scripture reading and meditation
Episcopal Teacher · Fall 2010
BeADIng THe seAsOns
following a star with an electric candle inside. Some locations were outside the church, such as the station where angels proclaim the Good News to the shepherds. After the experience, the organizers realized just how much the children’s involvement added to this event. A larger crowd than anticipated attended the stations presentation and from their comments seemed to be thoroughly pleased. The program at St. John’s was originally adapted from the Service by Raymond Chapman and several of the stations used the meditations from this book. Sabrina Evans is now the Director of Christian Formation at the Diocese of Oklahoma.
Liturgical New Year’s Bracelets are a tangible way for parishioners of all ages to remember the seasons of the church. supplies • Beads to match the colors of the liturgical year (see below). “Pony beads” are an inexpensive choice that are easily found at craft stores or online. • Elastic (yarn or twine can also be used) for stringing the beads. Remember that young children will probably need help with tying and knotting the yarn or string. Directions 1. Cut a length of string or elastic to fit around each person’s wrist, leaving enough extra to tie into knot 2. Thread beads on in order of liturgical seasons: Blue Advent Black Good Friday White Christmas Day White Easter Green Epiphany Red Pentecost Purple Lent Green Ordinary Time Red Palm Sunday 3. Tie off and wear. To enhance the project, set up a different table for each season and display the liturgical color and several seasonal objects, such as a star for Epiphany and prayer beads for Lent. —Amy Cook
Children, youth and adults at Grace Cathedral, Topeka, Kansas, dressed in elaborate costumes last January as part of an Epiphany pageant. Three children who were dressed as kings were carried in procession on litters to the altar on the shoulders of adult members of the congregation.
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Photo by Diane Harrington
Episcopal Teacher · Fall 2010
Celebrate MLK with National Day of Service
By Meg Wagner “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite all of the demands placed on families’ time, many are willing to give up a day off for a chance to serve others if given the opportunity. Trinity Episcopal Church, Iowa City, has found a creative way to provide that opportunity. When we began hosting a service event on Martin Luther King Day, we wanted to engage the children at our church in a service project they could participate in alongside their parents. We quickly found that there were no opportunities for volunteers under 16 in our community; so we decided to host our own. We asked people of all ages to come to our church to sew quilts, knit hats and gloves, cut fleece scarves, bake food, and assemble toiletry kits – all for Shelter House, our local homeless shelter. Parishioners were joined by university students, retirees, elected officials, and children of all ages who came together to serve the needs of people they might never meet. All of the materials were donated by our church, community, and local businesses. We asked for yarn, fabric of all sizes, sewing supplies, baking supplies, and travel size toiletries. We thought we might get a handful of people the first year and enough supplies to keep them busy. Instead, volunteers have numbered in the hundreds and this year we produced 9 quilts, 84 toiletry kits, 2 hats, 24 scarves, 6 head warmers, 6 loaves of bread, 10 dozen muffins, and 3 dozen granola bars—all for Shelter House. All day in different rooms in the church children worked alongside adults tying quilts, decorating quilt squares with fabric markers, stuffing toiletry bags, and learning to knit, sew and bake. All of the children’s quilt squares were sewn into toddler and child quilts for the youngest guests at Shelter House. People of all ages shared their sewing machines, knitting needles as well as their knowledge, love, and passion for sewing, knitting, and cooking. Everyone, regardless of skill or previous knowledge, could sort toiletries into comfort kits consisting of toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, lotion, etc. Consider turning your church into a site for service next MLK day. Be a place where people of all ages can come together as part of the Na-
tional Day of Service. Start with a need in your community and bring people together to brainstorm ways that you could be creative in meeting that need. Visit www.serve.gov and www.mlkday.gov to register your project and receive tips, sample press releases, and ideas to help you organize and promote your service day. What we discovered was that our Day of Service benefited those who came to serve every bit as much as it did the temporary residents at Shelter House. As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Everyone from the youngest to oldest volunteer that day realized they had plenty of grace and love to share. Meg Wagner is the Director of Christian Formation at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City. You may contact her for more information at: mwagnertrinityic.org. 11
Episcopal Teacher · www.vts.edu
the clutter to find
By Judy gattis smith I am the last survivor of four generations of my family. The task fell to me to sell the homeplace and organize an attic full of memories and clutter. The task became for me a metaphor of Christian education. As Christian education changes, the same questions crop up—what will we keep and what will we throw away? What do we keep? I challenge educators to do the same thing. What is essential? What though painful, will you let go? To be creative is to prune the tree. Here is my list: 1. We should not give up storytelling. The faith we celebrate is the story of God with us. Priests and ministers proclaim the Word; educators provide foundation blocks for understanding. 2. We should provide experiences that illustrate basic Christian doctrines: sin, atonement, justification and sanctification. We teach more than definitions. When we do a Christmas pageant we teach Incarnation; when we work on a Habitat house we experience Reconciliation. We provide experiences that take participants from their comfort zones. We flesh out the meaning of faith in their daily lives. 3. We play an important role in the 12
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spiritual development of the people. That means we cannot get too carried away with the busy-ness of activities. Ezra Earl Jones, formerly of the Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church, said “The world is on a spiritual quest—the church is on an activity quest.” If the church pushes activities rather than spiritual disciplines, we create an organization of activities rather than people seeking God and being transformed by God. 4. We are meant to be joyful Christians and this is often expressed through music. What do we discard? Just as discarding family possessions is difficult, there are some practices that are very hard to give up. Even though I have loved and still love these traditions, I’ll give them up if there is a better way. 1. Reluctantly we need to give up methods that we have developed that illustrate our creativity. None should ever get in the way of the Spirit. If a method works use it— otherwise let it go. This also means giving up preconceived notions of how we learn and how we were taught to teach. 2. Be ready to give up any place or type of place. Making space sacred is worth doing, but sacred space can be created out of shared space.
I have had great trouble with shared space, but I am learning to be more flexible. 3. We should be ready to give up any curriculum. Writing curriculum the past 25 years has been an enjoyable venture, but no curriculum is more important that teachers and learners. 4. We need to give up traditional schedules and even days. I’ve been concerned that we no longer have a Sabbath. What does this say about the Ten Commandments? But reluctantly—it may be necessary to give up any one particular day. Job Description essentials After we make the difficult decisions about what to keep and what to discard, how do we describe Christian educators? These are the tasks that are essential from my point of view: 1. Pass on the stories of our faith 2. Provide experiences illustrating Christian doctrines 3. Emphasize spiritual growth 4. Exemplify the joy of Christianity through music and other means What does your list look like? It likely is different from mine. I challenge you to list all your jobs as a Christian educator and then narrow it down to four things you would not give up. What is your passion in Christian education?
The Seasons of the Church Year
The youth at the church where I worship observe two seasons of the year—before camp and after camp. “Before camp” starts in January with conversations about how to decorate cabins, what it will be like to be a counselor, and whether their team will win the tournament games again. It is a time of planning and joyful anticipation. Everything points to the event--camp: seven days of new friendships and memories out of which a new community is birthed. Camp is the hinge that opens the door to a season in which campers are sustained by re-telling stories and spreading their excitement with others who might join them next year. The “before and after camp” calendar sustains their common life and welcomes others. The liturgical calendar is similar. It gathers our Christian stories and points us to that moment on the cross through which we are all transformed into new life. Think of the liturgical year as a loom. The threads of our lives are drawn through the weft of Christ, keeping us firmly rooted in Christian spirituality. Through Advent we are woven into joyous expectation. During Christmas we adorn the threads of celebration. Through Epiphany our threads, together with Jesus, reveal the wonder and love of Jesus. While in Lent our
threads endure the tugs of being drawn in a desert through which we must travel, the weft keeps us on the journey toward Jerusalem, through death, and into the new life of Easter. As we look back, we can see the beauty of the whole fabric—our life with Christ with Easter as the dominant image. We often think of the liturgical calendar only as a tool to remember the life of Christ. What the “before and after camp” calendar created by campers, however, tells us is that it is also a way to order our lives in a meaningful way. It can prepare us for the seasons of our own lives and keeping us oriented toward Christ. Hang a liturgical calendar in a prominent place in the classroom for children and youth. Adorn the prayer table with the liturgical colors. Begin your time together noticing the season and asking youth how it reflects lives. Doing so will raise up the rhythm of your common life and point the way of Christ. —Jenifer Gamber The Church Year Calendar was created by Jenifer Gamber; it is available on her website, myfaithmylife.org/home/htm. For more information about the seasons, download the younger youth guide “The Episcopal Church Year” in the Episcopal Curriculum for Youth series at vts.edu/iclf/center/published.
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activities and ideas and space to journal and doodle. • Respond by making videos, taking pictures, interviewing people, and creating objects and art that can be uploaded to an online portfolio — the re:form gallery — where participants can share what they have been learning with the whole congregation. Each session begins with preparation material for adult leaders. The background material has historical information and critical interpretations of the biblical text. Tips about adolescent development and culture guide leaders in the selection of additional resources and appropriate teaching strategies. The three components listed above follow with activities, questions, suggestions and ideas. The leader guide or website does not specify an age-range for the curriculum. The topics and discussions in re:form are appropriate for adolescents of all ages, but the animated films and many of the activities are more suited for younger youth. High school confirmation leaders could still use the curricula by selecting age-appropriate activities and omitting the video clips. The website includes session samples and portions of the DVDs (through youtube). Before purchasing materials, youth leaders should preview the available sessions and videos. The curriculum was designed for varied denominations; congregations that tested the materials included Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. Specific information about the Episcopal Church and its traditions would have to be added by the leaders. Sparkhouse, the creator of re:form, is not directly affiliated with a denomination, although its materials are distributed by Augsburg Fortress, a Lutheran publishing house. Its mission statement notes that “churches of all kinds and theological viewpoints are struggling to be relevant - even to survive.” “We are inspired by design,” note the creators of the re:form curriculum. “We approach problems in a certain way: collaboratively, with imagination, and a discipline that we consider spiritual. Our calling is to re-imagine resources…in a way that creates new vitality, change, and relevance in Christian communities.” The program includes units about the Bible, creeds, discipleship, Jesus, and other beliefs. The final section looks at “tough questions” that youth often ask, such as “Is it okay to be angry at God?” or “What does God think about war?” among others. re:form can be customized to fit a variety of programs. Since most churches don’t have time to use all 40 lessons, confirmation leaders can select which ones to use. If they want to emphasize a point, units can be expanded into multiple weeks to allow time for the group to work on individual activity pages or use the student workbook pages at the end of every unit for their own church’s activities. —DSL
sparkhouse, 2010 wearesparkhouse.com Leader guide: $39.99 Additional costs for DVDs and student workbooks
re:form is a curriculum that is rooted in historic Christianity, but speaks to youth on their level, empowering them to discover for themselves what they believe. The emphasis is on exploration as opposed to indoctrination. It is a resource for confirmation, but it can be used in other settings. re:form is designed to empower youth to discover for themselves what they believe, through three components: • encounter by watching DVDs with 40 animated short films that frame theological questions that young people often ask, like “Who wrote the Bible?” and “Why does God let bad things happen?” • engage by using a student workbook devised to be a centerpiece of each young person’s confirmation experience. It has
Episcopal Teacher · Fall 2010
Planning for Christian Education Formation
By Israel galindo and Marty c. canaday chalice Press, 2010 chalicepress.com cost: $16.99
Planning for Christian Education Formation is designed to help congregations plan and organize a Christian education ministry as part of Christian formation in a community of faith. Taking the vocabulary of educational leaders such as Maria Harris and Thomas Groome, the authors have created an effective formation process for churches of all denominations. The authors have experience in local churches and formal academic settings. Israel Galindo is dean and professor of Christian education at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond; Marty Canaday has been a congregational educator in churches in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. They have developed a model for organizing a Christian education leadership committee or team for a church that uses the church year as a framework for planning the Christian education ministry of the church. The model provides a means to assess the effectiveness of the educational ministry of the church as well as a process to help congregations move toward a community of faith approach. In discussing this approach, the authors note that the attributes that separate Christian teaching from other forms of education are relationships and community. “At heart Christian education formation is not about a creed, or a book or body of knowledge, but a person: Jesus Christ. Christian formation is a product of being in relationship with Christ in the context of the community of faith: the Church (p. 23).”
Canaday notes that many “congregations have not helped church members advance into deeper levels of faith maturity…congregations that are concerned about this must become intentional in addressing this spiritual formation need.” The authors agree that a community of faith approach is more authentic and more effective than a schooling approach. The methodology goes from the content of faith to the practice of faith, distinguished by pedagogy that moves from passive learning to active, committed learning. The center of the community is always worship and the Word, or liturgy. There is constant movement through the acts of inviting in and sending out. While many have written and talked about spiritual formation needs, few have provided practical help in changing this paradigm. This book offers a practical guide to help churches embrace the fact that “all experiences of congregational life are formative…The curriculum of the church has more to do with how we structure communal life than . . .printed resources ordered from publishing houses (p. 79).” While many of the ideas expressed in Planning for Christian Education Formation are not new, there has been a lack of practical paradigms for turning them into action. This book provides a way for churches of any denomination to redefine Christian education formation for themselves. —DSL
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Celebrating MLK Day