Issue 1 – February 2010
In This Edition:
- About this e-Publication – a word on what this is
- Conversations – an interview with Barbara Ross
- Speaking of Resources – suggestions about books and helpful web sites
- Mixed Bag – practical ideas for your formation program
- Gleanings from the Vineyard – reprint from The Vineyard
- Coming Up – Calendar of Events pertinent to Formation
About this e-Publication
For nearly twenty-five years, from 1974 – 2000, the Department of Christian Education at the Diocese of Oregon published a resource journal which came to be recognized church wide as one of the best (and most practical) sources available for the ministry of Christian education at the parish level. It was called The Vineyard. Articles were written by some of the most innovative and thoughtful educators in the Episcopal Church during those years including Jack Hilyard, Kristen Ingram Johnson, Gretchen and Rusty Kimsey, Mark McDonald, David Perry, Dorothy and Neff Powell, Arlin Routhage, Margaret Sipple, and Katharine Jefferts Schori. Its archives is a treasure trove of ideas for how best to do formation in a local parish setting.
Times and resources have changed. In the opening days of the 21st Century, much of communication is instant and primarily cyber. Our “paperless society” puts a premium on ecological stewardship and postage prices often make hard copy financially untenable as well. The need for information, inspiration, and exchange of ideas, however, is just as great as it has ever been.
For this reason, the Ministry of Lifelong Christian Formation of the Diocese of Oregon seeks to bring you “New Wine from the Vineyard” which we hope will be a quarterly cyber publication designed to “invite, inspire, and transform Christian education/formation in this diocese and beyond. We hope to provide news, practical ideas, interviews, reviews and links to resources, exploration of issues, and a forum for discussion of all the many aspects of our common ministries. In addition, we hope to reprint some of the particularly stunning (and timeless) articles from The Vineyard of the past.
We hope you will consider this YOUR publication and share your ideas and opinions with us, keep us up to date on what is happening on the education/formation front in your parish, and let us know what topics and issues you would like to see us explore. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or be in touch with Barbara Tensen Ross at email@example.com. We hope you will enjoy this “new wine” from the Vineyard and drink it to your pleasure and delight. Mary Sicilia, editor
The Diocese of Oregon has many gifted educators in its midst, none more than the missioner for the Ministry of Lifelong Christian Formation, Barbara Tensen Ross. Barbara has led this ministry since 2002, driving from her home in Salem to The Bishop’s Close three or four days a week, acting as consultant to parishes around the diocese and beyond, and serving on many committees as a representative of Christian formation. We caught up with her just before Christmas to learn a little bit more about her, her position, and her hopes for Christian Formation and our diocese.
First, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What was your own religious formation like?
I grew up in the little town of Nyssa on the Oregon-Idaho border. My parents were born and raised in Nyssa and both families were Episcopalian so in my growing up years, the people on both sides of the aisle were either related to me or felt like they were. My maternal great-grandparents were instrumental in starting the church (the altar still in use was made from their bedroom furniture!) and my paternal grandmother played the organ. My earliest memories of church are of standing on the kneeler, leaning back against my dad’s chest, and feeling his heart beat and his arms encircling me as he held the prayer book and moved his fingers along the print so that I could see the words as I heard them. Growing up, I participated in our little church school, children’s choir and youth group. During college, I often attended the Saturday night Catholic folk mass with my roommates, but I always have been part of an Episcopal Church.
How is that you came to be involved in education and Christian formation?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and growing up my favorite game was to play school with my younger sisters and brothers. I graduated from college in education and taught third grade for six years before our children were born. During these years my husband’s job took us back and forth between Salem and Pendleton several times. I was one of the good-hearted moms who volunteered to help in the nursery, teach Sunday School, help with Vacation Bible School, etc. Eventually this led to a part-time position as Sunday School Coordinator and then to a full-time position as Director of Children and Family Ministries at St. Paul’s, Salem where I served for 13 years. I’ve had the privilege working at the diocesan level since 2002.
The department has a long history in the diocese, but it has recently changed its name — why the change? What difference does it make?
Actually, the name has been changed several times that I am aware of. For many years we were known as the Department of Christian Education. Sometime in the 1990’s we were renamed the Ministry of Christian Education. More recently we became the Ministry of Christian Education and Lifelong Formation and we are in process of shortening that to the Ministry of Lifelong Christian Formation. All of this reflects changes that are happening throughout the church with the move from Education to Formation and most recently, the emphasis on Lifelong as evidenced by the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation that was adopted at General Convention and at our recent diocesan convention.
What kinds of educational and formational services and programs are available through the diocese for congregations? How does one access these?
The Ministry of Lifelong Christian Formation exists to support our local congregations and to maintain ties with our province and The Episcopal Church. We have an outstanding Resource Room full of books, curricula, and videos and other resources such as The Peace Village. People are welcome to visit in person during regular business hours or they can request resources by phone, e-mail, or through the diocesan webpage. Thanks to the dedication of Stephanie Wight, our entire collection is posted on-line on the diocesan webpage and new volunteer resource director, Paula Franck, is available to help. Members of the Ministry of Lifelong Christian Formation are available to consult with congregations.
We also encourage and support Christian Formation for all ages through events, conferences, and trainings. For several years we organized the Children’s Program and the Mission & Ministry Fair in conjunction with our diocesan conventions. For the past five years we have sponsored a Children’s Day at the Cathedral for children in grades K-5 and the adults who work with them. More recently we have been able to take this event on the road through Children’s Day at the Coast and we hope a Children’s Day South. We also have sponsored various trainings such as Godly Play, Via Media, SAFE Church and hope to be working more closely with EFM and the Catechumenate programs in the future. And, of course, with the creation of this e-publication, we hope to create a wider forum for both dispersing resources and sharing ideas.
When you are not working at The Close or traversing the road between there and Salem, what do you enjoy doing?
Over the years I have been an active volunteer with the Girl Scouts and with Stand for Children. I currently enjoy shepherding the Godly Play program at Prince of Peace in Salem and spending time with my family.
For Your Bookshelf:
- The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education, Third Edition by Sharon Ely Pearson and Robyn Szoke, Editors. (Morehouse Publishing, 2009) $24
The Book of Common Prayer is not only a manual for worship, but it is also a primary resource for Christian education in the Episcopal Church. Thus when the first edition of The Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education was published in 1983, it became an invaluable resource for Christian formation. The Guide included explanations of the seasons of the church year, summaries of the lectionary texts for all three years and activity suggestions for all ages.
When the book went out of print, educators zealously guarded their cherished copies of the little red book until the Second Edition, with added emphasis on Baptism and the Catechumenal process, was printed in 1996 edited by The Rev. Canon Joseph Russell. With the introduction of the Revised Common Lectionary, the Third Edition was recently published that follows the outline of the previous editions. An additional section entitled, Keys to Teaching and Learning, provides practical tips for program planning, sharing the Biblical story and methods of Bible study. This book is not only a valuable tool for Christian formation, but it also provides an introduction to the Episcopal Church and The Book of Common Prayer. A website, www.prayerbookguide.com, will provide ongoing conversation and resources for using the Prayer Book in Christian education.
- Your Faith, Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church by Jenifer Gamber with Bill Lewellis. (Morehouse Publishing, 2009)
Jenifer’s Gamber’s book, My Faith, My Life: A Teen’s Guide to the Episcopal Church, has been a popular confirmation resource for young people, so now the author has written a similar guide for adults. The book provides a basic overview of the history, worship and beliefs of the Episcopal Church while challenging readers to live out their Baptismal Covenant and grow in spiritual practices. The questions at the end of each chapter as well as the glossary at the end of the book are particularly helpful. You can also go to www.churchpublishing.org/yourfaithyourlife to download a leader guide.
Both of these books are available for loan from the diocesan Resource Room.
Lenten Web Resources
Many congregations provide additional study programs during Lent. Below are some resources that are available on the internet.
- Groundwork III. Digging Deep for Change and Growth: A Guide for Lenten Study and Action – Year C.
This adult study resource, that can be downloaded from the Episcopal Church Center website, uses the Lenten Gospel readings to invite congregations to reflect on their mission and ministry. (Scroll down to the bottom right hand corner of the webpage to print a pdf file for Year C.)
- The national church website offers Lesson Plans for Small Congregations
- Anglicans Online also provides suggestions for Lenten activities for all ages.
- The Worship Well is an on-line resource for the Episcopal Church that provides program and worship resources for all seasons of the church year.
- Click on the following link for further information about materials available in the diocesan Resource Room http://www.diocese-oregon.org/resources/index.htm
You can also contact Paula Franck by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Resource Room for further suggestions.
practical ideas from around the Church
A Holy Lenten “Jelly Fish”
At St. Bede’s we had a motorized chain hanging from the very top of the church roof. It was there to hang the Advent wreath from, but for several years we suspended a basket decorated in purple ribbons as we entered into Lent. After have a conversation with the children about the word “Alleluia” and noting that it would be “put away for Lent, we asked the children to collect pieces of paper with Alleluia written on them from people in the pews . (They were enclosed in each of the service sheets) The children then brought them to the front of the church, where the papers were placed in the basket. Then Brandon flipped the switch and up they went; the round basket looked a bit like a huge jelly fish with all the ribbons hanging down! And there it remained the whole of Lent. On Easter morning, the basket was lowered and in addition to all the Alleluias, there were six large plastic eggs. Inside each egg was a symbol of something that had to do with Holy Week/Easter: a toy rooster, dice, a strip of cloth, rock, etc. which Brandon and the children discussed. At St. Timothy’s, the box is hid in a crevice at the back of the altar — less dramatic, but the kids still like it. Pamela Filbert, St. Timothy’s, Salem
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During the years I was at St. Paul’s in Salem, one of the events I looked forward to each year was Palm Saturday. Based loosely on the chapter of the same name from Gretchen Wolff Pritchard’s book Offering the Gospel to Children, Palm Saturday was a day of experiential activities designed to help children (and the adults who accompanied them) prepare for Easter. The children rotated through several activities including baking pretzels, making candles, tying palm crosses, decorating Easter eggs, and culminating in a participatory dramatic retelling of the events of Holy Week. Barbara Ross, Prince of Peace, Salem
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Pentecost Birthday Cake
At Prince of Peace in Salem, we celebrate the traditional birthday of the church at our coffee hour by inviting everyone to bring a layer of their favorite kind of cake – can be square, rectangular, or round. A couple of brave souls, with the help of lots of cool whip, assemble all of the layers into one giant cake and top the whole creation with vertical slices of strawberries. The cakes represent the church (us), and the cool whip and strawberry flames represent the Holy Spirit. It’s a delicious and fun way to celebrate Pentecost and the birthday of the church. Barbara Ross, Prince of Peace, Salem
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MORE Cakes for Pentecost
In advance, have sign-ups for the twelve months of the year, asking two people to bake and decorate cakes for each month. At your Pentecost Party, place cakes on tables that are covered with newsprint, separated by month. Have people find the cake for their birthday month and sign their name and birthdate and enjoy sharing the cake (and getting to know) the people who share their month . Post the newsprint for the following week. The Rev. Dcn. Peggy Bernhard , Church of the Good Samaritan, Corvallis.
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Pentecost Crane Chain
The week before Pentecost make paper peace cranes (Origami) from different kinds of paper, all of which are basically red in nature. The more shades, the better. Collect cranes before Pentecost and have a gathering on Saturday before Pentecost to thread cranes using fishing line and a sewing needle. Five to six cranes to a line. Attach four to five lines to a large embroidery hoop which in turn has fishing line tied to it so the hoop can be hung from a nail. Decorate the parish hall or hang in the sanctuary where they can catch the light as they gently move when people walk by. The Rev. Dcn. Peggy Bernhard, Church of the Good Samaritan,
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Save this for NEXT Advent…The Traveling Posada.
St. Chrysostom’s, Manchester, U.K. undertook a Posada the whole of Advent this year. Mary, Joseph, and their donkey, Zipporah, set off from the church on Advent I and spent every day in a new “home” – visiting parishioners, nursing homes, schools, shelters, even restaurants and businesses in their community as they wended their way to the church on Christmas Eve. They kept a blog of their experiences. Each day someone (often a whole group of someones) moved them from one spot to another with a welcoming “party” at their new temporary abode. The project proved an wonderful way for the community as a whole to get involved and “meet the members of the parish” and vice versa. You can read all about it on the blog they created for the posada: www.posada2009.wordpress.com. The Rev. Ian Gromersall, St. Chrysostom’s, Manchester, U.K.
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The Power of Legos
We have a number of kids scattered in age and attendance in the Church School. I do not know who thought of it, but the parents/teachers hit on the idea of filming one of the stories they were working on using lego figures they have made in the sand box, using stop frame filming. It wound up being much more involved than a one week project (more like five or ten), but the kids LOVE it and come back every week for the next few frames to be shot and to do voice-over. Attendance is up. So the teachers wondered whether they could film the Christmas story the same way and use the film in place of the pageant at the Wiggler’s Mass. Work is under way on that. The Rev. Scott Dolph, St. Aidan’s, Gresham
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Launching Into Baptism .
I found this film clip, taken from Godspell, to be an excellent way to get into a discussion of baptism with young adults and adults. Though the musical itself is somewhat dated, the baptismal scene “gets at” truths which are eternal and difficult to access in words. It manages to name the “spirit” of the thing without saying it. Mary Sicilia, editor
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IF you have practical ideas that have worked for you, please share them with the rest of us. Write up what you have and send it to email@example.com – links and photos also appreciated
from The Vineyard
Whether you, as a teacher, use a printed curriculum or write your own material, you will feel better prepared if you understand how a LEARNING EXPERIENCE might be developed beyond simply talking about the story or idea at hand. Simply, this process is broken into three areas: a. LAUNCHING – doing something at the beginning to catch the learner’s attention and get them thinking in the direction of the topic. b. INTERNALIZING – providing a way after the idea/story has been conveyed to relate the idea to their own lives; c. REFLECTING – taking time to think back on the idea.
A. LAUNCHING DEVICES – a way to introduce the story/idea in order to generate discussion.
l. a prayer
2. a song (sung, taped, videoed that leads into the theme)
3. movie or video clip
4. quotations (related to the theme)
5. a story (read or acted out. Could be a life experience or a story of the Bible or church history)
6. poem (related to the theme)
7. experiential entrance (for example, if the theme is darkness into light- turning out the lights, striking a match, lighting a candle, then turning on the light again)
B. INTERNALIZING MECHANISMS – a way to connect the idea/story to our own lives
l. Discussion – Have an open-ended question prepared to stimulate discussion – example of open-ended discussion: tell about a time you have moved from darkness into light
2. Activity – doing something hands-on which allows students to make the connection:
(for example: news or magazine collages showing light and dark; writing a poem, prayer, litany or skit about moving from darkness to light; drawing a picture showing light and dark;
C. REFLECTING EXPERIENCES – helpful ways to complete the learning process.
l. A common worship experience
2. A Prayer related to the theme in which each student adds a sentence.
3. Symbolic connection – take time to think about symbols of the idea we can see around us to remind us of the learning (for example: in the case of light and darkness – think about ways one can see that idea in how we worship – carrying in of light, putting out of candles, etc.)
4. Sharing the products that have been created in response to story/ idea (example: talking about collages they have created of light and darkness)
5. A few minutes should be spent relating this particular session’s theme to previous sessions themes.
(Editor’s Note: We found this article in The Vineyard files but were unable to find it in the archives we have available. We thought, however, it needed sharing. If you are the author of this article or know who is, please let us know. We have altered the article some to reflect new technologies.)
Safeguarding God’s Children (SAFE training) –
Safeguarding God’s Children is required training for all clergy, paid staff, vestry/BAC members and all volunteers who work with children and youth. It must be renewed at least every 10 years. Cost is $10 payable at the door. To register, go to www.diocese-oregon.org, look under Important Announcements, click on the link for SAFE Church, read through the information, fill out the form and submit. For further information, please contact Barbara Ross, Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation, at 1-800-452-2562×111, 971-204-4111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Sat., Feb. 6 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Trinity Cathedral, Portland
+ Sat., Mar. 6 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Christ Church, St. Helen’s
+ Sat., Mar. 6 – 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (with lunch) -St. Andrew’s, Florence
+ Sun., Mar. 7 – l:00 – 5:00 p.m. – St. George, Roseburg
+ Sat., Mar. 13 – 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – St. Michael & All Angels, Portland
+Sun., Mar. 14 – 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. – St. James, Tigard
+ Sat., Apr. 24 – 8:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. – St. Aidan’s, Gresham
Godly Play Community Gatherings and Trainings
All these events take place at Trinity Cathedral, Portland
+ Sat., Feb. 13 – Lenten Reflection Day
+ Sat., May 1 – Storytelling Day
+ Sat., May 30 – Introduction to Godly Play
+ Thurs.-Sat., July 29-31 – Godly Play Core Training
+ Sat., Aug. 21 – Introduction to Godly Play
+ Sat., Oct. 2 – Storytelling Day
+ Sat., Dec. 4 – Advent Reflection Day
For further information, contact Charissa Simmons at email@example.com
Holy Smokes, it’s time to be thinking about Children’s Day again! Theme for this year’s events is Come Holy Spirit: Wind and Fire. Bishop-elect Michael Hanley and Archimedes, his green dragon puppet, are our invited special guests. Posters and registration brochures have been mailed to every congregation. They also can be downloaded from the diocesan website. Registration deadline is February 22 for Children’s Day at the Cathedral and April 26 for Children’s Day at the Coast. Questions? Contact Barbara Ross, Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation, at 1-800-452-2562×111, 971-204-4111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Children’ s Day at the Cathedral – Sat., Feb. 27 – Trinity Cathedral, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
- Children’s Day at the Coast – Sat., May l – St. Luke’s by the Sea, Waldport, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
EFM MENTOR TRAINING
- Education for Ministry (EFM) mentor training – at the Close
Thurs, April l5 (begins 3:00 p.m.) – Sat, April 17 (ends at 3:00 p.m.). For further information contact Kathy Araujo at email@example.com
CONFERENCE ON LIFELONG FORMATION
(*All photos in this section from 2009 Children’s Day. Photos by Danny Bronson.)