Angell Departs for Parish Ministry; Kelly to Serve as Acting Missioner

It is with true mixed emotions that we share with you that Mike Angell has accepted a call as rector at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in St. Louis, Missouri. As Young Adult and Campus Ministries Missioner, Mike has revitalized the ministry in those areas, and we – the Church and the staff – will benefit from his efforts for a long time. Mike embraced a leadership position in many areas, especially during the response of the church to the situation in Ferguson, MO.  Through his time here, he was steadfast in his dedication to the needs of others.

While we are sad that he is leaving, we are joyful that he has been called to parish ministry.  He will be serving a church in St Louis, MO, his hometown.  Our joy is in the knowledge that Mike’s leadership, forward thinking and spirit-filled actions will be focused on the local level, the grass-roots area of our church where mission and ministry is thriving.

Mike will be leaving the staff on March 13th.  I hope you will join us in thanking Mike for his time here with us, and offer him prayer and support for his next adventure in mission.  Please read the note from Mike about his transition, click here.

Shannon Kelly, known to many of us as she served as the Acting Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation until Ruth-Ann Collins returned this January, will remain on staff and  will oversee Young Adult and Campus Ministry.  In addition, Shannon will continue to coordinate some formation projects, events, and curriculum development.  Shannon and Ruth-Ann will continue to serve on the Congregational Development and Formation Team in the Mission Department.

Faithfully,

Bronwyn Skov, Shannon Kelly, and Sam McDonald

Q&A on 2015 General Convention Official Youth Presence

Applications for participation in the General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) have been open for a week and several members of the youth ministry network have called or emailed with questions. Here are a couple of questions with my responses that are worth sharing with the larger community.

What about my 15 year old freshman who is brilliant but won’t be 16 by General Convention?

The Canons of The Episcopal Church recognize 16 years of age as the age of adulthood for communicants in good standing to function as adults within the church. They should be recognized with voice and vote at their annual congregational meeting and may be eligible to stand election to vestry, convention delegate, and General Convention deputy. As a youth minister of 24 years, I also hold that rarely does a 15-year-old possess the maturity and stamina to function well at a 10-day long adult event of the magnitude of General Convention. It is also highly likely that these youngest youth will be eligible again for General Convention 2018. Please understand this is not a measure to exclude, but to engage real discernment for those with gifts and passion for this unique event in the life of the church. GCOYP isn’t your average youth event!

So few are selected, and only two per province, why should we go to the trouble of the application and nomination process if there’s little chance my youth will be selected?

Here lies the beauty of youth ministry in the church. This application process is an opportunity for local gifts discernment and mentoring. Serving as a deputy, delegate, vestry member, or GCOYP is not for everyone! And over the course of life we will not be selected for every opportunity we desire. However, we will never be selected if we don’t apply. Completing an application and working with an adult to complete a nomination for GCOYP is an adventure into gifts discernment, articulating hopes and dreams, building in accountability, and taking risks on behalf of ourselves to serve an institution and join God’s mission in the world in a very specific way. The Episcopal Church also needs a healthy number of applicants to offer themselves so we can engage discernment from a place of wide diversity from many perspectives: ethnic, racial and cultural heritage; rural, suburban, and urban demographics; different places across our theological spectrum; and socio-economic diversity. Please do not opt out or strand us with a narrow band of applicants. Engaging this process should be beneficial for all who participate, and it will help mentor youth in the process.

When will we know who is selected?

As stated in the application materials, there will be stages of notification according to province. We refrain from announcing the members of the delegation until we have all 18 youth identified and have permissions secured from their parents or guardians. In the discernment we will select more than 18 potential members and then begin making invitations. Some youth may decline due to new developments in their own lives, and that will impact who we invite in his/her place. All kinds of criteria will be considered in preparation for this possibility including gender balance for lodging options. Discernment and selection is a complex process that we undertake prayerfully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly. We will definitely make announcements by mid-March at the very latest.

What about youth who want to go to General Convention even if they are not selected for GCOYP?

There is a guest registration fee for individuals to attend General Convention. There is not an organized youth event mandated or funded for General Convention. The Youth Ministry Office is currently consulting with Inspiring Mission to try and coordinate hospitality and logistics for youth groups who would like to attend for part of convention. Feel free to contact them using the link above and please stay tuned for more on that score in the next two months. Hotel space is tight, so I encourage groups who want to join us in Salt Lake City to begin planning now!

Other questions? Please feel free to contact me at bskov@episcopalchurch.org or calling 646-242-1421. I’ll be back from Thanksgiving with my family on Tuesday, December 2.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bronwyn

The Confirmation Project

In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. (BCP, 412)

Every year, Confirmation is a hot topic at faith formation and youth ministry conferences across denominations. What are we doing at Confirmation? What are we expected to teach young confirmands? At what age should we be confirming young people? How do we re-create Confirmation as a meaningful experience or rite of passage for our young people?

Most often, these decisions are made at the congregational or diocesan level, which creates wide variation in Confirmation theology and practice across The Episcopal Church.

In response, the Christian Youth: Learning and Living the Faith Project (CY: LLF), an interdenominational project led by Princeton Theological Seminary was established to learn “the extent to which confirmation and equivalent practices (CEP) in five Protestant denominations in North America are effective for strengthening discipleship in youth.” These denominations include the African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and the United Methodist Church. Lisa Kimball, Director of the Center for Ministry of Teaching, and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary, is serving on the Steering Team.

In the next week or two, The Confirmation Project will release a survey to collect data from every congregation that is on official record with its denominational offices as having confirmed at least one young person in the last two years.

The electronic survey will be sent to the contact person of record for each congregation, likely the rector, vicar or senior warden. That person will be asked to forward the survey to anyone involved in youth Confirmation programming this year – kids, parents, volunteer adults, mentors, lay staff, clergy, etc. The more people who respond to this first survey, the more we can learn about how Confirmation is understood and practiced across the church. Everyone who completes the first survey will receive a follow-up survey in spring 2015.

So, you are being asked for two things:

  1. Be sure the right contact person has received survey in your congregation. Go to: http://theconfirmationproject.com/project-faq/ and follow the instructions given.
  2. When you receive the survey, please complete it as quickly as possible and make sure to forward it to others in your congregation involved in Confirmation programming.

This is an exciting time for those of us working with Confirmation and striving to make it a meaningful and relevant experience for young people. Thank you for supporting this project and for participating in the survey!

Faithfully,

Bronwyn

New Resources for a New Program Year

Welcome to guest blogger, Sharon Ely Pearson. Sharon is an editor and the Christian Formation Specialist for Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI). Church Publishing, Morehouse Publishing, and Morehouse Education Resources are imprints of CPI. 

Curricula, Books and Resources Available

The leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and our programs have resumed for a new year.

I remember during my time as a child and teen that the coming of a new school year meant a fresh start and either a new lunchbox, pair of shoes, or backpack, plus new pencils and a precious box of never-used crayons. As a teacher and then Christian educator, autumn meant welcoming back children and youth who took a ‘church hiatus’ over the summer. It was also a time when I eagerly opened the boxes that the postal service or UPS dropped off at my office. It was like Christmas to see and sort through the new curricula, books, and resources.

This Fall there are plenty of resources to make if feel like Christmas instead of Halloween – all treats, without the tricks:

For children and those who minister with them

Let Us Pray full rgbLet Us Pray: A Little Kid’s Guide to the Eucharist by Jennie Turrell is a colorful little book that will fit in the hands (and your church pews) of your smallest members to help them following along with worship. A great baptism gift too! (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)

The Good Shepherd by Jerome Berryman with illustrations by Lois Mitchell shares this foundational story in a picture book. For Godly Play classrooms and beyond. (Morehouse Education Resources, 2014)

The Great Family by Jerome Berryman with illustrations by Lois Mitchell offers this favorite Godly Play story of Abraham and Sarah journeying to a new land in picture book form. For Godly Play classrooms and beyond. (Morehouse Education Resources, 2014)

Building Faith Brick by Brick: An Imaginative Way to Explore the Bible with Children by Emily Slichter Given offers a way to engage children in learning bible stories using Legos.™ Lesson plans for — Old Testament and — New Testament stories are offered. You know you love to play with these plastic bricks just as much as the kids do! (Morehouse Education Resources, 2014)

The Rite Place: Kids Do Church! Adults Do, Too! by Shawn Schreiner and Dennis Northway offers a theology of why children need to be included in worship and then how to go about fully including them. Liturgies for every season of the church year is offered, including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Baptism and a Celebration of a Life, as well as a Song Book full of simple songs that are easy to teach. (Morehouse Publishing, November 2014)

For youth and those who minister with them

Marked for Mission: Youth in Action edited by Bronwyn Clark Skov and Sharon Ely Pearson features the voices of youth and young adults from around the Episcopal Church sharing stories about our Baptismal Covenant, the Five Marks of Mission, and the importance of lifelong learning. These prayers, reflections, and background information offer youth core best practices in ministry with our young people in the Episcopal Church. It includes The Lord’s Prayer in 10 languages! (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)

My Faith, My Life: A Teen’s Guide to the Episcopal Church, revised edition by Jenifer Gamber is an update of her popular book for teen’s that is a core resource for formation and confirmation preparation. New features include reflection questions, ideas for digging deeper, and conversation starters plus the Five Marks of Mission and current events in the Episcopal Church. Check out her website www.myfaithmylife.com for even more resources! (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)

My Faith, My Life: A Teen’s Guide to the Episcopal Church – Leader’s Guide by Jenifer Gamber makes her popular book (above) accessible to the youth leader or teacher who desires to use the book as a curriculum. Lesson plans, activities, and a multitude of resources make this something that should be on every youth leader’s bookshelf. (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)

For adults

Embracing Forgiveness: What It Is and What It Isn’t with Barbara Crafton is the latest of the popular small group “Embracing” series. This five-session DVD-study covers (1) Seventy Times Seven: Really? (2) You Have Heard It Said (3) Chipping Away (4) How to Start and (5) Why Forgive?

A People Called Episcopalians, revised edition by John Westerhoff with Sharon Ely Pearson is an updated little booklet about the Episcopal Church that makes it perfect to put in the hands of newcomers, inquirer’s, and anyone who might want to know the essence of what it means to be an Episcopalian (as opposed to a Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or United Church of Christ member).

The Episcopal Way by Stephanie Spellers and Eric H.F. Law is the first volume in the Church’s Teachings for a New World Series. Contemporary and practical, this little book offers chapter discussion questions about who we are as Episcopalians in the 21st century.

For Christian Formation leaders

Your Living Compass: Living Well in Thought, Word, and DeedYour Living Compass by Scott Stoner invites readers to engage in a 10-week, self-guided wellness retreat, consisting of daily ten-minute readings, pluse questions that guide the user to make small, meaningful action steps. (Morehouse Publishing, 2014)

Daily Prayer for All Seasons (in English and in Spanish) compiled by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music offers daily prayers in contemporary language that can be used throughout the seasons of the church year and throughout the day (morning, noon, evening, and nighttime). (Church Publishing, 2014)

Got a idea for a new resource or suggestion? Contact Sharon at spearson@cpg.org or share in the comments.

Available Grant Funding To Support New and Creative Ministry

Funding is currently available through three grant programs offered through The Episcopal Church. Each is listed below with links for more information. Be sure to check the deadlines for application submission – they range from the end of this month to November 1.

2015 Roanridge Trust Award Grants

Applications are now accepted for the 2015 Roanridge Trust Award Grants, awarded annually for creative models for leadership development, training and ministries in small towns and rural communities across the Episcopal Church. Dioceses, congregations and Episcopal related organizations and institutions are invited to apply for the grants which generally range from $5000 to $20,000. The application deadline is October 31. Read more.

2014 Jubilee Ministry grant applications

One Program Development Grant, up to $35,000, will be awarded to a new or existing ministry that can demonstrate a new or re-visioned strategy and methodology to make an impact both locally and beyond itself. Ten to 20 Program Impact Grants, ranging from $750 to $1,500 each, will be awarded to initiatives of Jubilee Centers that make a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need. Deadline is Tuesday, September 30. Read more.

Episcopal Church Constable Fund Grants

The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of the Episcopal Church General Convention/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS). Recent Constable Grants have ranged from $5,000 to $200,000. Applications can be submitted by: (1) a programmatic office of the DFMS; (2) one of the General Convention CCABs (committee/commission/agency/board); or (3) one of the Provinces of the Episcopal Church. The deadline for applications is November 1. Read more.

Good luck and happy grant writing!

Discerning Christian Vocation with Youth Across Europe

Mission MondaysRecently I had the pleasure of joining the youth ministers and young people of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe for their annual youth events. For many years they have been convening teenagers for Youth Across Europe (YAE) during Ascension week. Recently they added a program for 10-13 year olds called Juniors Across Europe (JAE). Both of these events included youth and adults from several of the parishes and missions in Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium. [Read more…]

3 Days of Urban Mission: Engaging mission in the heart of the city

Mission MondaysThe Episcopal Youth Event 2014 (EYE14) is one month away and our Mission Planning Team is working diligently to be sure we are creating a dynamic, meaningful event for participants.

Following EYE14, more than 300 are staying over in Philadelphia to engage mission in the field through 3 Days of Urban Mission. The majority of 3 Days of Urban Mission volunteers will lodge at the University of Pennsylvania in inner-city Philadelphia. About 60 additional volunteers will be housed at the Episcopal Mission Center, managed by the Diocese of Pennsylvania. [Read more…]

Here’s one Youth Ministry book you need to add to your Summer Reading List

signedsealeddeliveredAs we move into June, my hope is that you have added the new book from Sharon Ely Pearson, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Theologies of Confirmation for the 21st Century, to your summer reading list.

This book helps meet the need that I sense among Youth Ministers to deeply consider the rite of Confirmation and bring meaning to it through their ministries and the wider faith community. Signed, Sealed, Delivered brings depth, history, thoughtfulness, truth-telling, creativity, and hope to this persistent sacrament that we can’t seem to fully grasp or agree upon. [Read more…]

Join Me in Praying and Working for Justice for Children

Mission MondaysSo many of us continue to be haunted by the violence involving children that has been dominating the news in the past few months. From the sinking of the South Korean ferry, to the lost wreckage of Malaysian flight 370, to the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls, we are reminded now more than ever that our world continues to be an unjust and unsafe place for many children, especially girls. [Read more…]

Your Input Needed on Forma Survey

Formabannerclear150px1The Offices for Lifelong Formation, Youth Ministry, and Young Adult & Campus Ministry are proud partners with the Forma network.

Sharing skills, knowledge, collegial support, and resources across the church cannot be accomplished effectively or efficiently from any single office. Networks of local communities of faith sharing their learnings are key to engaging the Five Marks of Mission as we all put our faith in action. Please take time to read the following from the current Forma Board President, Randall Curtis, and engage the survey offered. [Read more…]