Sometimes I am just amazed at all there is to learn about our Church. As I peruse the list of resolutions in an attempt to determine which one is most timely, I find new ideas and organizations to research. Continuing on last week’s theme of Lifelong Christian Formation, let me present to you Resolution A076: Commend Use of Christian Formation Certifications:
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention commend to all dioceses and congregations the use of Christian Formation Certifications as a way to encourage professional development for both paid and unpaid Christian Formation leaders and to deepen the Church’s commitment to the value and status of lay Christian Formation leaders; and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention commend the work of Forma in having developed through Faith Formation Academy the Certificate in Leadership for Lifelong Christian Formation and the Certificate for Youth and Family Ministry; the programs at Virginia Theological Seminary; the Seminary of the Southwest’s Certificate Program in Christian Formation; General Theological Seminary’s Certificate in the Spiritual Guidance of Children; and the programs of other recognized entities offering continuing education opportunities and certification for those called to the ministry of Christian Formation; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church Center promote awareness of these certification programs.
Okay, so I will admit it. Before General Convention last summer, I hadn’t heard of Forma and after arriving home, I put my questions about this organization in my “to do later” mental file so I could get on with more pressing concerns. Finally, it’s time to find out more. I began with their website – http://episcoforma.org/ From this I learned that Forma is “an association and dynamic community of Christian educators, formation professionals, and their institutional partners that celebrates and upholds the diverse ministries of Christian formation across the Episcopal Church.” Forma’s membership represents individuals from 40 different states and over 60 dioceses and includes lay, clergy, educators, camp and conference coordinators, and anyone who is interested in Christian formation for both adults and children. They are a private, not-for-profit organization with their own 501(c)3 status so are not officially (legally) connected to The Episcopal Church. Besides hosting an annual conference in January (the 2017 conference in California will feature one of my favorite speakers, Nadia Bolz-Weber!!), they offer on-line resources and two certificate programs, one for those engaged in youth ministry and the other for those eager to grow in their formation leadership skills. You can get more information here -= http://episcoforma.org/2016/05/12/apply-now-to-grow-as-a-leader/
Virginia Theological Seminary offers continuing education courses through their Lifetime Theological Education programs – https://www.vts.edu/podium/default.aspx?t=147869&rc=1
I could not find a current link for the Certificate Program in Christian Formation from the Seminary of the Southwest but they do offer continuing education. Check out their information here – http://ssw.edu/academics/continuing-education/
I also searched for the Certificate in Spiritual Guidance for Children program at General Theological Seminary and only found a Facebook announcement from 2010. Perhaps you will have more luck checking out their website – https://www.gts.edu/
I can personally speak of my great experiences with the online courses offered through Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Their Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership (CALL) offers courses throughout the year which are open to everyone. They do offer two certificate programs besides their individual offerings: Essential Anglican Studies and Advanced Anglican Studies. You can get more information here – http://cdsp.edu/continuing-education/center-for-anglican-learning-and-leadership/
While I could be disappointed that I came up short on a couple of those programs, I think we in the Diocese of Michigan have been very blessed with Bishop Gibbs, who is a strong supporter of lifelong formation and who has made continuing education a priority for our Household. Check out the Whitaker Institute page for all of our diocese’s offerings and speak to its director, the Rev. Eric Williams, if there is a program you would like to see available here – http://www.edomi.org/whitakerinstitute/
Before I close, let me remind you that June 20th is World Refugee Day which will be the subject of next week’s blog. If you’d like to read ahead, check out this link – http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us/
Let us pray –
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14 – 21, NLT)
~ the Rev Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee