Introducing Wendy!

It’s no secret that we have a wonderful and capable social media director keeping the blogs rolling and the Twitter feed tweeting and the Facebook sites posting for all offices of the Formation and Vocation Ministries Team.

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Wendy Johnson has been on contract part-time with us for the past six months helping to develop our media plan and to assist in covering the communications gap during our search for the new Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministry. As we launch into the new program year we felt it might be helpful for you to “meet” her more formally since we recently renewed her contract.

Wendy worked for the Youth Ministries office as consultant for all of the EYE’11 transportation logistics and 3 Days of Mission, and she compiled and produced the final report for the event.

Her interface with our in-house communications team is pretty seamless and we contracted her again to manage media and communications for the 2012 General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP). She also compiled our team’s report on all of our General Convention 2012 activities including the GCOYP, Children’s Program, Young Adult Festival, and Youth Booth.

Wendy is mother of three and actively homeschools her youngest daughter as her two older sons are wrapping up their high school careers more rapidly than she desires. She and her husband travel when time and children permit. This past summer, Wendy won an award to travel to Poland with Holocaust survivor, Eva Kor, to develop curriculum to facilitate future pilgrimages of Christian youth groups to Auschwitz in the year 2015 (the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation). Watch the videos from the trip on her Vimeo channel.

A background in political science, passion and skill in youth and young adult ministry, combined with her curiosity and competence with social media make her an excellent match for the current needs of our team. She is a strategic thinker, a thoughtful editor, and an energetic worker. We couldn’t be more blessed to have her on board.

Please join us in thanking Wendy for sharing her passion and skills with us. She will be working with us on EYE again and looks forward to receiving guest blog posts and links to story ideas and resources from all of you.

Please help us grow our network by staying connected and pointing the way when you see the Spirit at work in the church, in our communities, and across the globe.

On behalf of the Formation and Vocation Ministries Team,

Bronwyn Clark Skov

Every Picture Tells a Story

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Today’s guest blogger is Teri Valente, Youth Ministry Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware & Program Director for Camp Arrowhead. Teri blogs at Youth Ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware.

I’m not sure I could be more excited for The Youth Cartel‘s the 2013 digital edition of Every Picture Tells a Story.

Quite Simply – it’s a collection of 48 evocative black and white images and a Leader’s Guide with 18 prompts for reflection, journaling, processing or discussion springboards.

The first edition was published in 2002 and has been out of print – a very sad story for anyone who lost an image or their original leader guide years ago… :/ oops.

I know tons of youth leaders who used to (and sometimes still) have file folders full of clipped magazine images and collected images from online…. I’m claiming that this is new. It’s not.

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BUT – for those who don’t find leading contemplative exercises doesn’t come naturally it sets you up well to succeed (with or without really trying).

Reasons I Love It:

It’s so easy to use. The images are all the same size. The prompts are varied and simple to follow. It sets the thermostat for your discussion. It’s easy to plan to use and easy to use in a pinch when your other plan falls through.

The first edition helped me lead a large group in a contemplative exercise as I was learning to be more contemplative myself. It’s one of my standard experiential prayer stations and a rich go-to activity to help facilitate reflection and introspection.

The artwork is simple, yet complex, beautiful and weird. Your students (and leaders) will see things in a picture that no one else did – and in their explanations you will come to get so much more of who that person is. It’s like the exercises trick them into being far more honest than usual. 🙂

It’s digital. You can make as many copies as your heart desires in whatever size you want. If another leader is going to “borrow” this resource you never have to worry again about getting your copy back. And it means that as soon as you purchase it – you can immediately download it.

AND!!! For a limited time – when you purchase the new edition, they’re throwing in the old one as a free gift. That’s 96 images!!

Check out a sample.

The DREAM is Now

the DREAM is nowToday, my guest blogger is Katie Conway, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst for the Office of Government Relations of the Episcopal Church. In this piece, Katie presents an overview of a recent documentary on the DREAM Act and provides links to supporting resources that you might find useful for organizing a youth or intergenerational group discussion night. As you might remember, the General Convention Official Youth Presence (GCOYP) was active in encouraging the General Convention to pass a resolution encouraging Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

New Documentary Focuses on DREAM Act

The Dream is Now campaign is a collaboration between the Emerson Collective, led by Laurene Powell Jobs, and acclaimed filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.  The goal of the campaign is to pass humane immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for DREAMers and their families.  The campaign is working on a number of fronts with the goal of attracting a broad audience: using the power of story through video, activating social and traditional media, and conducting grassroots organizing on college campuses.

One of the key tools we are using is the recently released documentary, also entitled The Dream Is Now, which chronicles the real life stories of students who are trying to access higher education or military service but are unable to because of their immigration status.  We have made this movie available via our website, YouTube, and soon it will be available on Netflix.  Additionally, we will screen the film in communities and on college campuses across the country.

Recently, we released additional tools on our website including a “Write your Elected Official” template and a “Tweet your Senator or Representative” feature.

This is a historic moment, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to fix what’s broken. A bipartisan group of eight Senators has already introduced a compromise proposal, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744).

We are making progress, but there is a long way to go.

We need your help. Please consider joining us on the journey and sharing this film with your friends and neighbors. Please visit our website at www.thedreamisnow.org to learn more. If you’re interested in screening the film in your community or have any questions, please contact us at film@thedreamisnow.org.

Bridging the Gap series: How a simple phone call can change a life

Today I welcome as guest blogger the Rev. Canon John W. Newton, Canon For Lifelong Christian Formation for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. This is the first of several blog posts focused on how the church can “Bridge the Gap” for graduating high school seniors to whatever is next in their lives: be it a gap year, an internship, a job, a community college or a college/university experience.

Supporting Our High School Seniors

Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?

We will!  (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 303)

studentsWhat I love about our baptismal liturgy is that every Episcopalian takes a public vow before God and the entire congregation to do everything in our power to support every baptized member of the Church.  When I am present for a baptism I must confess that sometimes the phrase “all in your power” intimidates me.  It sounds like a large daunting task, and in some sense, I suppose it is.  But sometimes things in “our power” are actually quite easy, like making a phone call or sending an email.  A simple phone call, after all, changed my life.

When I was a senior in high school I got a call from Jimmy Bartz, who at the time was the Campus Missioner at the University of Texas where I was to attend college upon graduating.  Jimmy called and simply introduced himself, told me about the campus ministry he oversaw, and asked if we could meet when I moved to Austin to begin college.

Waller-20130404-00895I accepted Jimmy’s invitation and got plugged into the campus ministry at the University of Texas.  In fact, it was in the context of that campus ministry that I heard God’s Voice calling me into the priesthood.  Like I said, a simple phone call changed my life.

Now in reading this you might be tempted to assume I am referring to Jimmy’s phone call.  I am not.  The real hero was the person that called Jimmy and gave him my name and number.

As the spring semester draws to a close I ask that you would prayerfully consider helping your graduating seniors with their transition into what God has in store for them next.  Do whatever is “in your power” to find out where they are attending college and to contact a nearby Episcopal campus ministry or parish.  We have all pledged to do all in our power to support our seniors.  Remember, not everything in our power requires all of our power.  A simple phone call can change someone’s life.

collegeretreatWho do you know that is graduating and going to college in the fall?  What “in your power” might you do to make sure that an Episcopal Church actively welcomes them during such a critical time in their life?

Again, I ask because it wasn’t Jimmy that changed my life.  It was the unnamed hero that called Jimmy and gave him my name.

Resources, guidelines for talking with young people in the wake of tragedy

As you most likely already read, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called for prayer following the explosions in Boston, MA, and offers the following prayer:

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one.  May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us.  May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears.  All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.

I write with such sadness to remind you of the all-too-recent post containing resources for families needing to address this senseless act of violence. You will find the post here.