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June 27, 2011 Conversation

Present: Mary Herring, Pat Mitchell, Christi Humphrey, Lisa Kimball, Sharon Pearson (facilitator and notetaker)

Sharon opened with a prayer from Maren Tirabassi’s “An Improbable Gift of Blessing” based on the ministry of Martha (“the gift of calling us by name and not by what we do …”)

While checking in, the following were requests for prayers: Trinette (Sharon’s mom who will be moving into a nursing home within the month), Linda, Pat, and Karen (extended family members of Mary who have recently been faced with the tragic loss of a child). Mary recommended an article from the Washington Post. The work of small groups (including Christi’s) – to become motivated to make change “on the ground” where they are.

We began with a discussion of Kanuga’s Christian Formation conference, held earlier this month. (Pat & Sharon were attendees.)

  • Eugene Sutton speaking of reconciliation tapping into St. Patrick’s Breastplate
  • Variety of workshops for newbies and veterans
  • Bishop Sutton, Joyce Ann Mercer, Sam Portaro asking why so few attendees: response – cost, time, loss of positions; House of Bishops has a fund for continuing ed, most dioceses do also – for lay and clergy. How does word of these get spread around? How can bishops (and seminaries) encourage clergy and laity to attend to their continuing formation needs?

Discussion:

  • Do we have a forward looking method? How do we strengthen the ground? Talking about discipleship.
  • How do we help others link with others? Being in a survival mode is frightening.
  • Bonnie Anderson speaker at EDS – lecture on becoming a ‘movement’ of ministry; Use these in a group to discuss and talk about how we can be a better Christian community. Become a movement rather than an organization. Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Use of language sometimes gets in the way; there are lots of leaders and networks doing great things; build on strengths of conversations.
  • Lisa led a class on Adult Ed via in-person and virtually (MDiv, MA and continuing ed students); there are appetites ‘out there’ that are willing to work, learn and grow in serious way.
  • Dr. Rodger Nishioka (EYE speaker got rave reviews from adults) focuses on equipping pasters to be teachers and leaders in the church’s educational ministry. He is particularly interested in building a congregation’s youth and young adult ministries. View his presentation on YouTube.

 

Next call: Monday, September 12 at 11AM ET

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Paradigm Shifts, Emerging Church & Passing on the Faith

The general check-in revealed that there is much going on in the church! The Charter on Lifelong Faith Formation and formational/educational practices are being promoted in parishes, with vestries (Pat), in Diocesan (Pat, Cathy) and other organizational offices (Karen) both in the United States and abroad.

We began an extended conversation about anti-racism/anti-oppression after Mary shared her experience taking Temple’s Graduate  Certificate in Diversity Leadership. One of the weekend leaders was  Charles Rojzman, French social psychologist known for “transformational social therapy .”  Other resources identified are Eric Law’Kaleidescope Institute (dialog focused), Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training (structural change) and Andrew ?.

Within academia, Fredrica led a clergy day of reflection on Baptism and Baptismal Ministry. Lisa described a seminar style independent study process that she has developed which uses the charter as a frame for mentoring a group of students developing their  own topical research within a  community of accountability. She was also one of three presenters (Lisa, Arrington, and Jason) invited to join the House of Bishops to reflect together on proclaiming the Gospel with Young Adults.  Julie is teaching a course, Being Church in the 21st Century that includes many emerging church expressions.

Amy just finished a conference marathon  3 conferences in 6 weeks (NAECED/NOERC, Diocesan Learning event, Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship). Today’s discussion is framed by what she has garnered from these experiences.

TOPICAL DISCUSSION

THE MA DIOCESE SPRING LEARNING EVENT was a  joint event cosponsored by the Episcopal Divinity School, the Diocese of CT, and Episcopal Village. The Rev. Ian Mobsby was the keynote and shared from his experience in the United Kingdom’s Fresh Expressions efforts and the MOOT community. Amy summarized some of his material:

As documented in New Monasticism (2011, Paraclete Press), Ian Mobsby identifies four emerging groupings of Spiritual Seekers:

  1. Mystical questers
  2. Restorative questers
  3. Displacement deniers
  4. Post-religious reconstructors

This leads us to ask:

  • How do we assist people to shift from being nomadic spiritual tourists to co-travelling Christian pilgrims?
  • What forms of church live out healthy expressions of Christian Spirituality?

Missio Ecclesiae – The mission of the Church [The body of Christ] as the new social organism, springing form the work of Jesus in calling the twelve, with a citizen body which scandalously included from the beginning slaves, women and even children, persons who had no place in the traditional ecclesia [town council] obeyed his [Jesus’] new commandment to love irrespective of blood ties or social class (Bishop of London, 2006)

fresh expressions: a mixed economy
“If ‘church’ is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ at the heart of every expression of Christian life in common.” (Rowan Williams)

This poses a challenge for the Church in the United States:

  • The Dechurched – an important group to start with, had had experience of liturgy and formation, therefore, can likely attract with vital community life and worship experiences
  • The Unchurched and spiritual the growing responsibility – New Missional communities – because this group has not had an experience of church, efforts to reach this group cannot start in church.  Efforts need to start in the world, typically through a mission effort that builds community.

Message of Missional Church
Following the master:

  1. Start with HOPE & GRACE
  2. Invitational
  3. Christianity as HUMAN BECOMING
  4. IN but not OF contemporary culture
  5. Emphasis on what WORKS
  6. Focus on HOW SHOULD WE LIVE?

These new emergent & missional expressions of the church come in many forms:

  • Emergent groups – the dechurched
  • New Monasticism – de and unchurched
  • Cell Churches
  • Café Churches
  • Base Ecclesial Communities
  • Network Churches
  • Projects becoming Church
  • Regenerated & contextual Church Plants
  • Cathedral emerging communities

The Moot Community is:

  • Trinitarian basis
  • New Monastic Community
  • Worship: Experimental & Contemplative
  • Mission: Relational & Event driven – Lounge Project
  • Community: Network plus intentional community

Building ecclesial communities out of contextual community
Mission – gathered and sent
Worship – experimental contemplative & liturgical
Community – relational, formational & inclusive

Commentary on Event Learnings:

  • Good healthy Christian practices need formation, worship, community – not strong in formational understanding – could not talk well about HOW to do it – what are elements of discipleship practices – wanted more details about HOW bible study and prayer work
  • Formation through community, accountability, practices in small group
  • strong theological content – not really named but clearly underpinning of efforts

———————————————————————————————————————————

NORTHEAST ECUMENICAL STEWARDSHIP

Money Follows Mission
American Baptists, Episcopalians,Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, United Methodists

  • Michael SlaughterGinghamsburg Church, OH – self defines as NOT A MEGACHURCH; currently operate three sites, one of three broke off and went independent.  Primary church focus is on mission and outreach.  Mike gives people permission to start ministries – empowers people with ideas.  One example, the church has raised over $5 million for Sudan and has sent groups to build schools, wells, agricultural projects, etc as one of ministries… Other ministries in the United States include prison ministry, tutoring, clothing drives.  The church is designed as a series of cell groups. Worship includes contemporary, multimedia, and multisensory elements.  Mike tends to exclude children (there are strong childrens/middleschool/youth programs) SEPARATE from adult worship, focusing more on adult education.  He draws on Wesleyan theology such that anyone can participate but membership requires participation in cell, spiritual disciplines, and tithing thus raising bar on what it means to be member.  –
  • SUSAN SNOOK – Phoenix church planter, episcopal – now has 150 regular attendants in traditional worhship. Her success is the result of communicating well with unchurched or unprepared theologically. This is not an emerging church/fresh expressions church.  Susan is on The Episccopal Church stewardship board. She presented on “Generational Giving.” Amy’s notes follow:

Using research on generational differences, she offered that there are now five distinct generations alive. (NOTE: These designations are taken from William Strauss and Neil Howe’s research, Generations (Quill Press, 1991) and The Fourth Turning (1999).

  • GI Generation: born before 1924
  • Silent: born 1925 – 1942
  • Boomers: born 1943 – 1960
  • Gen-X: born 1961 – 1982
  • Millennials: born 1983 – 2005? (the same generational type as the GI Generation)

Snook further offered how this impacts faith communities and stewardship:

GI Generation in Religious Life
• Yearning for calm inner world
• Combine righteousness and pragmatism
• Escape from surrounding chaos in sanctuary of order, joy and hope
• Take religious obligations seriously; team players
• Embrace reason and logic
• Enjoy building for posterity

Stewardship with GI Generation
• Respect titles, like to hear from the leader
• Enjoy home visitations
• Expect formality
• Appreciate their legacy, ask for their wisdom
• Express personal dedication to the congregation

Silents in Religious Life
• Value love, inclusion, agreement, empathy
• Detail-oriented, procedure-minded
• Preference for relational consensus building
• Surprised when efforts toward tolerance spark controversy
• Great communicators

Stewardship With the Silent Generation
• Many are comfortably retired
• Especially value relationships and friendships
• Enjoy members of other generations
• Value helping hands for marginalized
• Modest, giving is often quiet
• Value support of arts and outreach

Stewardship Techniques With Silents
• Establish and build warm relationships: calls, lunches, occasional notes, birthday cards
• Face-to-face, relational meetings
• Emphasize helping others
• Use personal, intimate stories
• Know and provide budget details and goals
• Stress fair share and proportionate giving

Boomers in Religious Life
• This is the current leadership generation
• Establishing new paradigms for congregations
• Seek personal spiritual experiences and freedom
• Frequent conflicts over issues
• Critique of social order
• Vision, inspiration, transformation, truth
• Like “broadcast” worship style

Stewardship with Boomers
• 2-career families with older/grown children
• Hard-working, complex schedules
• Time is more precious than money
• Need to understand the Vision (not the budget)
• Reluctant to commit: give them time!
• Value environment and children

Stewardship Techniques With Boomers
• Meet them near their workplace for lunch; don’t invade their homes
• Let them express their opinions
• Emphasize quality, making things the best
• Highlight environment, children, values
• Stress spiritual benefits of community that gives fuller meaning to life and work

Generation X in Religious Life
• Want authenticity, not sugar-coating
• Appreciate a God who suffers
• Skeptical of institutions
• Visual orientation, interactive experiences
• Need religious education they are lacking
• Prefer task forces to long-term commitments
• Want children protected and nurtured – safety, security, assurance

Stewardship with Gen-X
• Discretionary income is at minimum: low incomes, high debt loads, young children
• Hard-working, little extra time
• Search for community they lack
• Want enriching experience for their children
• Action-oriented, pragmatic – want results
• Practice what you preach

Gen-X Stewardship Techniques
• Appreciate time and talent, not just treasure
• Be brief and to the point; don’t waste time
• High value on children’s issues and needs
• Provide caring, safe community
• Value outreach and tangible results
• Use web-based techniques, EFT, online giving

Transforming Stewardship with Younger Adults
(Recommendations of JR Lander)
• Consider engaging different groups differently
• Discuss the fullness of stewardship, not just money (including stewardship of the environment)
• Discuss stewardship as a spiritual issue (not an institutional one)
• Emphasize serving the poor, advocating for justice
• Consider the tribes they belong to (or create them)

Communicating with Gen-X –Don’ts
• Don’t say “It’s paying your dues”
• Don’t emphasize the institution
• Don’t throw a wet blanket on them or downplay their involvement or enthusiasm
• Don’t be unprepared, incomplete or evasive
• Don’t talk down to them
• Don’t take yourself too seriously

Communicating with Gen-X – Do’s
• Do expect questions and answer them honestly
• Do respect their opinions; ask for help and feedback
• Do be inclusive and flexible
• Do include them in leadership and decision-making
• Do use technology to communicate
• Do emphasize quality children’s programs and active, results-oriented outreach

Millennials in Religious Life
• Yearning for calm inner world
• Combine righteousness and pragmatism
• Escape from surrounding chaos in sanctuary of order, joy and hope
• Take religious obligations seriously
• Embrace reason and logic

Transforming Stewardship with Younger Adults
(Recommendations of JR Lander)
• Consider mentor/mentee relationships
• Get them involved and connected, make them leaders
• Provide financial skills training
• Consider shorter pledge periods
• Be as transparent as possible
• Use electronic means
• Begin teaching responsibility at young age
• Emphasize social justice & helping others

Today’s Younger Adults (Millennials): Religious Views
(Pew Forum Report, 2010)
• 25% of Adults Under 30 are “Unaffiliated” with any religion (double the number in the 1970s and 1980s)
• But 37% say they are “strong” members of their faith (same as Xers, higher than Boomers at that age)
• Many other beliefs and practices are quite traditional, and similar to previous generations at the same age

Today’s Younger Adults (Millennials): Religious Views
(Pew Forum, 2010)

Compared to older generations, Millennials are:
• More likely to believe in evolution
• More likely to be accepting of homosexuality
• More tolerant of others’ religions
• Less likely to interpret the Bible literally
• Equally likely to believe in life after death
• Equally likely to believe there are absolute standards of right and wrong

Today’s Younger Adults (Millennials): Religious Views
(National Study of Youth and Religion)

“Spiritual, but not religious” – is this true?
• Millennials are not “alienated” from organized religion
• Most Millennials hold religious views similar to parents’
• Most Millennials believe their congregations are:
– Inspiring
– Welcoming
– Not boring
– Good places to receive advice and talk about problems.

Today’s Younger Adults (Millennials): Religious Views
(Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian)

Teenagers with “highly committed” faith share the following factors:
• A creed they believe in
• A story of God’s work in their life that they can articulate
• A mission to transform the world
• A hope for the future

Commentary about Amy’s  material:

  • Discipleship and formation heart of each
  • Not doing well communicating what we are and are doing in TEC
  • What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus today – how does it shape our lives

GROUP DISCUSSION

  • In addition to generational differences, M Rex Miller includes the impact of media cultures
  • This can make communications particularly challenging… consider engagement with a digital native who did not categorize himself as one…. not aware of the air that he breathes!
  • Language is important.  How do we name things? Faith formation – environmental or molded? Spiritual guidance – facilitated? Discipleship – choice for how to pattern life, practice/action-oriented?
  • An underlying frame is American individualism. By using Baptism as welcome into a community and sacramental elements, this occasion is last bastian against individualism. Framed by Gospel, it is about us not me, Educational models are still individual
  • As the mother-in-law of unchurched person, discipleship does not appeal; mission, transformation do.
  • The term “unchurched” seems pejorative. church-centric. What else do we have?
  • Ian Mobsby’s reference from New Monasticism – mystical questors, restorative questors, displacement deniers, post-religious reconstructors?
  • unchurched makes church normative
  • sets up in/out
  • Seeker? How does this fit with statistical research use of term… None on religious affiliation
  • According to Michael Slaughter, the goal should not be get into church… but be followers of Jesus getting God’s message into world… understanding church as building… focus on transformation of lives… Gospel-oriented – free captives….
  • “Church” functions as home base so can form community
  • Emerging church would say that it doesnt need to be institutional
  • Can’t be building focused
  • Also need to be aware of population shifts – hispanic population growing rapidly, new understandings – how do we capture richness
  • In urban context, churches ministering to people they always have supported, missing new people just outside door, wondering why they are having trouble surviving – missing/ignoring/denying demographic realities
  • We need to be aware of real lives of oppression – particularly ways in which insitutional church has added to it – move beyond “white” church – GOAL: develop parenting class to help parents talk to their children about race – form their children to be “color blind” – leads to resegregation around 2nd grade because children don’t know how to integrate…. wants to hold up a mirror to help majority recognize how we operate so we can consciously choose something different – aware of other religious groups – disapate anger at church that is not walking its talk
  • Adults often try to teach children with abstract concepts. They do not get it. Need help connecting the dots, We need parents trained so can transform children
-----------------------------------------------
NEXT MEETING : May 9, 2011 - 11 am ET
TOPIC: Extended check in
FACILITATOR: Pat Michell


Moving on Our Priorities

Marilyn McCord Adam’s Opening to God

FOCUSING ACTIVITY
At our last meeting, we reflected on Oscar Romero’s Prayer reminding us that knowing we can’t do everything is actually liberating because it frees us to do something well. We ended with these questions:

  • What is your passion?
  • Can you say no to other things so you can say yes to that passion?

In EfM (Education for Ministry) we note that every action/decision holds both cost and promise. As we consider how to manage priorities in our work

  • What are the things you’d like to (or need to) say no to in order to make room for giving more time to that passion?
  • What makes it difficult to say no? (What is the cost?)
  • What might your work look like if you could say yes to your passion? (What is the promise?)
  • What do you need from others to make this possible?

REFLECTIONS

The reflections that follow, reveal the deep longing for spaces to reflect, to renew, and to revision ourselves (personal passions) and our ministries (personal passions shared in corporate mission) so that we can re-engage our mission and ministries with vitality.

Engaged at a  more personal than institutional level, our reflections on the original were the catalyst toward additional comments and questions:
* How do we define what our passions are? Need quiet to connect with it?
* How do we say no, when we don’t feel free to say no?
* How can we balance short term satisfactions (email, etc) and long term satisfactions?


Some of the challenges we face when tying to maintain focus on our priorities are CONTEXTUAL:
* Our institutions are leaner – for a variety of reasons – meaning there are less people to do as much or more than in the past
* Many decisions are FEAR-BASED… lost financial stability, increasing focus on the bottom line, job reductions, market-driven mentalities… seem to be leading to an increase in myopic thinking, paralysis (keeping things the way they always have been), and loss of mission focus.
* Particularly heavy losses in the administrative layer (support systems) of our institutions leave those left doing more paper work and less of what we are passionate about and responsible for… i.e. formation work
*The expense of institutional structures lead to “bottom line” assessments. Concurrently, many institutions are asking pastoral leaders to say no to the things we feel passionate about and often believe are essential in meeting our mission. Relationship-building is typically seems as a high-expense, low income production element in our job descriptions. It takes time to create a safe environment for depth sharing which typically does not positively impact the bottom line.
* Focus on products that support the creation and continence of revenue streams can lead to a lost sense of mission and ministry,
* Within this mix, it is important to recognize positions of power and ask how we determine what gets eliminated? who decides?
* How do we create JOB DESCRIPTIONS that are open to individual gifts/passions/calls but focused enough that it is not asking too much
* How can we allow CHANGE/ADAPTION in balance with CONTINUITY/CONSISTENCY?

To reach for our priorities, we recognize that we need
* to balance relationships (especially if an extrovert) and maintaining the discipline of containing relationships in order to have space for other, more introverted things: meditation, reading, writing….
* to be present, especially by responding quickly to social media, and to know and name the cost of presence
* to balance divergent areas of life: family needs/home and work
* to respect technology, celebrating its ability to connect (especially when we feel physically isolated and alone) and recognizing its ability to overwhelm
* to allow curiousity to spark creativity and to temper it with focus so that it does not lead to too many simultaneous projects…
* to pick a focus and identify the small, sustainable steps for attaining it (i.e. with the goal of maintaining friendships… sending one or two notes/emails a night as way to not loose touch…
* to make space in the busy-ness… especially when cultural and institutional expectations seem to fill more time that there is available
* to wear one hat at a time… removing the others so that we can be effective, instead of scattered
* to balance being excessible and getting stuff done
* to control EMAIL instead of having it control us
* to control our emotions so that our insecurities don’t speak louder than reality
* to take time before saying yes or no so that we can reflect on whether this is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it
* to allow our intuition (gut checks) to have a voice
* to affirm ourselves when we say no… and track them, ie in a journal
* to let go, and ALLOW OTHERS to do things, even if it costs (i.e. travel agent)

WE ALSO WANT:
* an EIGHTH DAY that no one knows about but me… to do passion
* an INVISIBILITY cloak
* TUG BOATS (colleagues) to help turn the huge ship we are steering…
* good evaluation processes – create good instruments
* Upper management who understand/care for/protect





When we do these things, we will remember that

* when I say no, people will know that when I say yes it is important
* when we say no now, we need to consider what, if any, impact there may be later and weigh the alternatives

One Ongoing Question Remains:
Where is the Holy Spirit operating in the midst of this…. how to keep life giving?…

NEXT MEETING: Monday Feb 28 11 ET
TOPIC: Formation and Emerging Church
FACILITATOR: Amy
CLOSING PRAYER

Bishop Gullick’s Sermon on S&P

Carolyn Moomaw Chilton sent this link to the sermon by the Rt. Rev. Edwin Gullick (retired, Kentucky and now Assisting Bishop, Virginia) at Virginia’s 216th (2011) Annual Council last weekend. He mentions Shifrah and Puah and thought we’d all be interested!

Here is an excerpt from his sermon:
… Her name was Mrs. Loving – great name – and I remember her table laden with ham and fried chicken and homemade rolls and vegetables from her abundant garden. She was a member – I bet she was the matriarch – of Good Shepherd of the Hills in Boonesville, Virginia. And every day she fed our youth mission team from St. Stephen’s, Catlett. The year was 1963 or 1964.
Up the mountain, further up the hill, were some amazing women, all dressed in black. I found them very exotic. They were deaconesses who cared for our children in this diocese, some victims of the drug thalidomide, little boys and girls without limbs who would locomote on flat stretchers with little wheels on them if you had sharp, penetrating minds. And those ordered women dignified them on that mountain in this diocese. They treated them as God’s children who bore God’s image.
… in the course of that summer I learned several things: Christian faith was about being the hands and the heart of Jesus Christ…. I began to get a “God’s-eye-view” of this hurting world that God still trusts us with.
So what is this God’s eye-view? It all goes back to Shifrah and Puah. I know you know the story, and if you don’t, it’s because the story was told by too many men. A pharaoh arose who didn’t know Joseph, but Shifrah and Puah knew Joseph’s God. You know the story. They had a relational respect with the God of Israel that gave them the courage to defy Pharaoh’s order when he said, “Kill all the boy babies.” This was a particularly good thing for one baby boy, Moses, who was allowed to grow up, flee to the desert and in front of a bush, a bush burning with missionary flames, God let Moses in on the inside scoop: “I have seen the infliction of my people in Egypt, I have heard their cries on behalf of their taskmasters, I know their sufferings and I am coming down. I am moving into this. And I am moving into this, Moses, through your cooperation with me, your co-mission with me.”
About 1,300 years later, this seeing, this hearing, this knowing and this coming-down love became fleshed out in Jesus of Nazareth. He saw the blind beggar and the beggar began to see. He heard a Roman centurion’s cry that someone would help his servant, and the servant was healed. He knew that Martha and Mary were in pain at their brother’s death and he came down and moved into this hurting and aching and broken and yet ever-so-loved world. And on the cross in a spectacle of suffering love, he took on death, defeated it, released his spirit and empowered his friends to live in their lives these verbs. To see and to hear and to know and to move into situations where presence and compassion transforms and heals.
Those deaconesses on that mountain in this diocese were seeing as God saw. They were hearing their children’s cries as God did. They knew those children’s sufferings, and they moved into their lives and in doing so they taught a 16-year-old boy something of God.
… if there is one point I want all of you to know today and to please remember, only one thing I want you to remember from his sermon, and that’s this: it takes a diocese to raise up a missional Christian, then and now. It takes a diocese, gathered under an evangelical shepherd like our bishop, who sees as God sees and hears as God hears and knows as God knows and moves in and inspires us to do so. It takes a diocese…. 

Oscar Romero’s Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way
of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that should be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the results, bit that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are the workers, not the master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

December 2010 Web Conversation

DEC 3, 2010     2:00 ET      90 min (Christi, Mary)

PRE-CONVERSATION MATERIALS

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC, San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1993, page 119).

 As we meet today, let us keep in mind that we are in Advent. The focus of the Faith Formation 2020 meeting is on the strategies and invitations that we assembled near the end of our time together in August. We ask that you take just a few minutes to scan those  pages in search of your name/initials – you’ll find them with the task force on which you participated, and on the invitation to action that you extended. As we talk today, keep Buechner’s quote in mind and seek balance – an inward listening to your heart, and an outward listening to the world’s needs.

  OPENING PRAYER: The Song of Mary    Magnificat
  My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,my spirit rejoices in God  my Savior;
  *   for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.From this day all generations will call me blessed:
  *   the Almighty has done great things for me,   and holy is his Name.He has mercy on those who fear him
  *   in every generation.He has shown the strength of his arm,
  *   he has scattered the proud in their conceit.He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
  *   and has lifted up the lowly.He has filled the hungry with good things,    
  *   and the rich he has sent away empty.He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
  *   for he has remembered his promise of mercy,The promise he made to our fathers,
  *   to Abraham and his children for ever

FOCUS: August gethering gave us opportunity to respond YES… what still feels like yes to us… 4 months after our gathering?

Those gathererd responded to these QUESTIONS:
* What appreciations or excitements do you still have?
* What worries or concerns?
* Do you have puzzles or new info about task force?
* Do you have wishes?

There is excitement and concern:

  • still excited about charter,
  • Fredrica has moved from SCLFF to Exec Council (new) and Sharon has joined SCLFF
  • the church offices have shut down many previously available web resources (Theological Educ for All) – not a priority for sharing resources, networking – treating web as marketing only
  •  Tom Brackett has Ministry Dev up by his initiative
  •  budget slashing spreading – CCABs impacted as laity layoffs, see Bishops as having wider view

VTS (Lisa, Dorothy) is spearheading a conversation about certification and acredidation

  •  new Masters @ VTS, rethinking courses not only for Masters but also for certification
  • Hybrid courses – excitement about teaching in new method
  • Concern that Episcopal efforts are occuring as other denominaitonal certification processes are shutting down – Presbyterian, Methodist
  • There may be some language issues – not accredidation, is certification, efforts will be coordinated with NAECED (Laura Bailey), supported by Standing Commission for Lifelong Faith Formation and Education

Formation of all the baptized

  • clergy formation/transformation seems to be primary focus – seminaries split – most deans want to maintain status quo
  • Sewanee rethinking way they are doing things – maybe online
  • MA clergy looking for options for retooling/training – not sure diocese is helping directly
  • There is a great need for training, particularly in  facilitation and sm group work – Karen offered that EFM training, network, and experience could be shared as resources to wider church
  • anti-racism/anti-oppression remains a primary concern and focus – Mary is excited about new course that gave her insight about how churches and families can help predominantly white population build sensitivity about racism – stunned by turnout at assimulation game offerd in fall -> people have energy to explore topic
  • explored how we can build mutual benefit in cross seminary collaboration which will need structure… time,… resources… staffing… to change cultures – National church not helping – tends toward putting deans in competition
  • Some concern because Bishops meeting focused on getting ordination track students – Bishops say 3 yr residential is gold standard but not sending folks to seminaries – there is a clerical mindset that needs a change of heart
  • generationally, we may have hope in the younger generations – more collaborative, open source – see gain in sharing… paradigm shift – Church always seem to be 10 yrs behind

SHARING THE LOAD and SAYING NO – a longer view perspective

  • generally, partitioners and community members need to breathe
  • there is some concern that we are recircling wagons instead of moving to new place
  • it is important to give ourselves permission to say NO — to identify what are we giving  up as we add… make decisions based on timing more than priority
  • AWARENESS – FF2020 “Task Forces” seemed like “false energy” – doing what we felt we needed to do; “Invitations” when we offered what we were doing and opened it for others to join seemed like place God asked me to say Yes. place where most centered and most honest
  • Fredrica offered Bob Appleyard’s recommendatioin to keep a list of things that I say no to – all interesting, just not priority now – as a way to use the “no” muscle and build strength
  • It is important to find ways to help me keep passion/priority clear
  • it is also important to recognize when we say no to what I would prefer in order to do what I think must be done and the impact of that, especially long term

NEXT STEPS – focus on PRIORITIES

CERTIFICATION
– VTS, EDS, CDSP
– NAECED energy also driving; camp assoc;
– taps variety of sources, resources, personnel

CHARTER
– CDSP weekend?
– if it works on west coast, can it be replicated on east coast?
– how to develop collaboratively, sensitive to contexts, charing costs, etc…

CLERGY FORMATION/TRANSFORMATION
– is this supported by charter? leverage charter to encourage comprehensive view – ministry of the baptized: lay and ordained
– include as priority of both the certification and charter foci
– need to include in NAECED, get active in charter efforts

********************************************
What is the invitation that made your heart leap?
What do you have passion about?
Can we say no to other things so we can say yes to it?
********************************************

TO DO
* Julie set up Shifra and Puah Blog and enroll FF2020 participants
* post minutes of these meetings for discussion
* NEXT MEETING – Jan 28 2:00-3:30 pm et
 FOCUS: Moving on Our Priorities
 LEADER: Karen, Fredrica

CLOSING: OSCAR ROMERO PRAYER

Faith Formation 2020 Initial Report

(Editor’s Note: Faith Formation 2020 was funded, in part, by the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence grant from the Lilly Endowment and the Evangelical Education Society.  This post repeats informaiton in the September 2010 report to EES.)

Personal Reflections

When the idea of a gathering of seasoned faith formation educators and practitioners emerged from a conversation with Sharon Pearson during the 2009 Kanuga Christian Education week, I (Julie Lytle) had two hopes. Personally, I wanted to contribute to Episcopal faith formation effort and needed help in clarifying my role and identifying ways my gifts could be shared. Institutionally, I hoped the Episcopal Divinity School could be a catalyst to help bridge relationships between practitioners and academics as we help God invite, inspire and transform God’s people. I have been fortunate to serve in many contexts in which personal desires matched institutional needs. My ultimate hope was to that some type of forum for continued collaboration, mutual support, and accountability would develop.

I planted the seeds of this dream with Sharon Pearson, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, and Christi Humphrey as we prepared for the Episcopal Faith Formation 2020 Initiative. I could never have anticipated the garden that would begin to sprout because of our efforts.  What emerged was an unimaginable breadth and depth of collegial relationships, boundary-crossing partnerships on current efforts, and conversations about new initiatives. Nineteen participants gathered on the Episcopal Divinity School campus: Kate Gillooly, Cathy Ode, Ema Rosero-Norlam, Carolyn Chilton, Pat Mitchell, Amy Cook, Lydia Kelsey, Ruth-Ann Collins, Sarah Eagleheart, Dorothy Linthicum, Mary Hickert Herring, Vicki Garvey, Karen Meredith, Susanna Singer, Renee Peggs, Christi Humphrey, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Sharon Pearson, and Julie Lytle. These women gathered to share needs and resources, fears and strengths, concerns and hopes, in ways that will bear fruit in the Episcopal Church’s evangelization and lifelong formation ministries for years to come. 

Some of wehat I re/learned because of the gathering is

  1. The Spirit is alive and well within the Church! 
  2. Stories give us perspective, direction and identify
    We need to be Story-Keepers – holding the wisdom of the ages
    We need to be Story-Tellers – reminding all of God’s people of the Stories of Salvation by interpretting them in a new context
    We need to be Story-Makers – living lives shaped by an awareness of God’s presence so that our stories become one with God’s Story
  3. The gifts that we need to help God invite, inspire, and transform Gods people are within the community of faith that is gathered; we need to confidently claim and share them.
  4. We need COMPANIONS on the journey…. (We cannot do it alone)
    * Who we trust and with whom we can be vulnerable
    * Who will challenge us, checking what they understand to be our direction and motivation, so that we can stay on the journey together
    * Who support us – holding us when we stretch beyond our comfort zone, when our beliefs are shaken and convictions wane, and when we have spent all of our physical, spiritual, and/or emotional energy
    * Who hold us accountable – gently nudging us when we need a reminder about whose we are and what we said we would do to contribute our part of God’s mission
    * Who celebrate with us – birthdays and deaths, sickness and strength
  5. We can change institutions and institutional directions.
    Institutions are made up of people who can choose to move toward God or away from God.
  6. FEAR must be checked at the door is we are to reach toward the dream of God; we know how to CREATE SPACES to do so.  We need to confidently speak truth to power, particularly when our institutional structures are no longer counter cultural. 
  7. TOOLS are available . . . as are teachers to help us learn how to use them
    * To heal hurts
    * To manage conflict
    * To maintain cultural sensitivity
    * To protect all of God’s creation
  8. We need to MAKE TIME – for God (prayer), for self (self care), for others (checking direction and following The Way)
    We need to say NO when demands are unreasonable if we are to model the self care we call others to proactive

For those gathered, the immediately obvious impact on many was a shift from their self identified feelings of isolation to an awareness of each other as co-journeyers. There was a also an energy that built as participants realized this was not a gathering to add more to their already demanding lives but a space to invite others to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways. Most importantly, there seemed to be a spark of hopefulness as the Spirit renewed us. This can be seen in the way the story of the Egyptian midwives became emblematic during our time together. Together, Shifra and Puah ensured birth, supported life, and spoke truth to power. Typically responsible for orchestrating a myriad of elements simultaneously, often without much support, it was important for many of us gathered to be bolstered in a group of like-minded women and enboldened. By the closing, some of the group was using the name “Shifra and Puah Society” to identify ourselves.

Awareness of Faith Formation 2020 has been spreading across the church. Informally, invitee have told others. This informal channel will continue to tell the story of our time together and the impact it had on each participant’s life.  Formally, Sharon Pearson posted a brief reflection on her blog Rows of Sharon (Sept 10, 2010 post) and others have been blogging about the gathering. There is a “daily report” that contains a record of our interactions which will be mined for future conversations, particularly our periodic web conferences.  Ongoing reflections can be found here.