Faith Formation Team

At Holy Trinity, we recognize that one of the best gifts God has given us is each other. We believe we were made to love and support each other and to learn together. Because of this, the foundation of our congregation's learning is inter-generational. Our Faith Formation Team helps plan events and programs for all ages to Grow Together in Faith.

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May 2018: This Little Light of Mine

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, May 10, 2018 @ 3:12 PM

“Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good work and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Remember that song many of us learned, probably as children?  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”!  Our little lights have been shining in a myriad of ways from inside the walls of the church radiating out to our communities and beyond.  For starters, we have been blessed with volunteers setting the stage for the faith-growth of youth of all ages from 3 to 93. A huge THANK YOU to each person who said “yes” and “I can help” through this past year which was filled with changes, challenges, bittersweet “goodbyes” and exciting “hellos”.  You have said “yes” to taking charge of our Children’s Bell Choir, teaching our Confirmands, leading our All Ages Activities, organizing and preparing phenomenal coffee hour events, and creating fun-filled faith exploring opportunities for our children.   Please plan to join us for Sundae Sunday on May 20 as we join with the Stewardship team between the services to celebrate how we live our faith out loud together! 

This past weekend there were many little lights shining!  A successful Saturday yard clean up outing at the Klein’s to benefit the youth was completed.  Thank you Len and Jean for your dedication to our youth and their faith.  Thank you to those who dedicated their Saturday to help.  Rumor has it that lunch was the best part of the deal! 

Another crew of folks headed to Camp Calumet Friday night and returned Sunday. (Check out the pictures here!) They came together with 100 volunteers to rake, clear trails, rake, clean the beach, rake, clean the Lakeside Dining Hall, rake, clear campsites, rake, move docks and boats, and RAKE!  No shortage of leaves, pine needles and debris to be cleared.  That being said, it was not all work!  We ate amazing Calumet cuisine, played a few rousing games of Apples to Apples, ate, laughed, ate, sang at the campfire, and ATE!  Sunday morning the Pastor reminded us that we are born or adopted into a family but that we choose our friends.  In many ways, faith is the embodiment of those friendships as we “do” life together supporting one another in love as we strive to bring God’s love into the world around us. I believe we all left feeling blessed for the building of new friendships and the strengthening of existing friendships as we served our God together in faith.  It was the perfect segue to officially “choosing” our new friends Sunday afternoon at Pastor Krick’s Installation!  What a wonderful faith-filled weekend! 

Speaking of Camp Calumet, who loves camp?   Please remember that our church offers scholarships to help off-set the cost of Camp.   Whether you have already signed up for camp (Day Camp or Overnight Camp) or if you are looking for more information, please contact me at ffcoor@htelc.com.   We will determine the amount of money that can be dispersed per camper based on how many youth are planning to go.

Last, but not least, Vacation Bible School, is right around the corner!  Mark your calendars for July 29-August 1 and get ready to be SHIPWRECKED!  Registration starts May 20!  Hope to see you there. 

Keep those little lights shining!

February 2018: Meet our new Children and Youth Faith Formation Coordinator

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 2:38 PM

Greetings from your new Children and Youth Faith Formation Coordinator!  I am taking this opportunity to introduce myself to those who may not know me and to bring you all up to speed on where we are with our Faith Formation Programming.   What exactly is a “Children and Youth Faith Formation Coordinator”, you might ask?  For now, it is a position that will be focused on creating and coordinating opportunities for our youth (pre-school through highschool) to learn about God, think about their faith and start to understand how faith fits into their lives.  The question that we will be looking to answer is “how do we live faith out loud everyday?”.  Some days living our faith out loud and showing God’s grace and love seems easy.  Other days it can feel like a lot of work.  In the end, whether we are having a fabulous day or a horrible day, whether we have done it right or done wrong, God loves us, forgives us, and is there to help and comfort us.  What an amazing privilege to help our youth embrace this gift in ways that are meaningful to them!

So, how does this impact what we have been doing so far this year with Children and Youth Forums?  The short answer is that all forums will continue until through May 20, 2018.  The long answer is that through the holidays and as we worked through the transition of our interim pastors completing their assignments here, we have continued to have programming for participants of all ages.  Thank you to Lara Scammon for ensuring that children’s activities were planned for each Sunday over the last month.  Glenn Oswald has ensured that our Confirmands have met regularly and our Adults Forums have continued to move forward (thank you Linda Edwards!).  Thank you to Jill Larson for facilitating a multi-generational activity last Sunday (2/11/18) on growing our faith as we journey through Lent. We recognize that in the shuffle of activity and changing roles these activities may not have communicated as clearly as we would have liked.   Please know that we are continuing to have weekly opportunities for children, youth, and adults alike through the remainder of the programming year.  At the end of this session and over the summer we will be re-evaluating what is going well and where there might opportunities to grow or change what we are doing.  As always, suggestions and feedback from the congregation are encouraged and welcome.  

For now, we will continue to provide weekly programming on Sundays from 9:45-10:45 between the services with a multi-generational activity on the second Sunday of each month.  We would also ask for your prayerful consideration as to whether you might be led to assist with the Children or Youth Forums.  Sign-up sheets are hanging above the table where the name tags are found on Sunday.  All are welcome (and encouraged!) to jump in and help.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for any questions or if you would just like more information.  Going forward I will have a HTELC email, phone number and office hours.  

December 2017: Pastor Grace's Farewell message from the FFT.

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

This will be my last column written on behalf of the Faith Formation Team.  It has been a joy to work with this group over the past two years, on the intergenerational GIFT ministry, on the visioning process, and most recently on the revamped Children’s, Youth and Adult Forums and Confirmation Class.  Along the way, we have had two successful Vacation Bible Schools, an All Saints’ Saturday celebration, two Confirmation Camps, an Easter Vigil, and a Christmas pageant (with another on Sunday!).

Holy Trinity is a congregation that cares deeply about the Christian formation of its children and youth, and is also committed to lifelong learning.  Bible studies, movie nights, retreats, and other adult formation programs are well and steadily attended.  Special events like the lectures on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation are eagerly received. 

Too many people to name, including all the past and present members of the Faith Formation Team, step up to make these things happen day in and day out.  And the rest of the congregation strikes a remarkable balance between making your wishes and opinions about Faith Formation clear, while also gamely pitching in to give the latest idea a try – and most of the time, having fun and learning something in the process!

We have been glad to see the renewed participation in the Forums in response to the changes that were discerned in the visioning process, while also being aware that there are still many beloved traditions that have fallen by the wayside during the interim period, and many new and exciting possibilities that Holy Trinity might want to explore once the new Pastor has arrived.  So, as I transition out of this ministry, my farewell message is – keep up the good work!  Keep being curious, keep learning, keep teaching each other, keep being involved, and keep being open to new things.

November 2017: Upcoming Youth Gatherings

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 10:44 AM

This coming summer, the triennial ELCA Youth Gathering will be held  in Houston, TX.  Groups of youth from Holy Trinity have attended these youth gatherings in past years and have had wonderful experiences of fellowship, service, and growth in faith.  We hope to send another group in summer 2018.

A number of “alumni” from Detroit 2015 and New Orleans 2012 are still in the congregation, including several young people who are now in college.  On January 7, the first Sunday of the new year, we plan to hold a forum for adults and youth in which several of those alumni have the chance to witness to the congregation about how the Youth Gatherings impacted their lives.  This will be the beginning of the process of planning and preparation for the 2018 group to go.

Thanks to the generosity of the congregation and the good work of prior cohorts of youth, we have a significant amount of funding (more than $8000) already accumulated that we can put toward the trip if the congregation chooses to do so.  This will hopefully take the fundraising pressure off and allow the preparation for Houston 2018 to focus more on the actual experience that those who attend will be having.  Nevertheless, I’m sure there will still be some money needing to be raised, so be prepared!

If you are interested in perhaps attending as a chaperone, please let the Faith Formation Team know, and get ready to hear lots more about the Gathering.  Thank you in advance for your support and prayers!

Peace,

Pastor Grace and the Faith Formation Team

October 2017: A Great Start to Fall 2017

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 2:12 PM

Our faith formation programs are off to a great start in fall 2017!  You’ve probably noticed a lot more children at the 8:30 service, and we celebrate the presence of these young Christians in our community, and give thanks for the parents and grandparents who are bringing them, and the teachers who are helping to pass along the faith!

We had a terrific All-Ages Forum on October 8 (make sure to check out the “vines” on the gathering area wall before they’re taken down next week!).

We also want to make sure that everyone knows about the upcoming Celebration Dinner for everyone involved in children’s and youth formation, from 5:30-7:30 PM on Friday, November 10.  Childcare will be provided and parents, teachers and supporters will have a chance to reflect together on how things are going, learn from each other about best practices in teaching children in a faith context, and generally have a conversation in complete sentences!  The Faith Formation Team will provide a main dish (including gluten-free), and attendees are invited to bring a salad, side dish or dessert.  We hope that you’ll come!

Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist sharing this blog  post from the past week:

Rules for children in the worship service:

One. If you find that you're sitting in front of a child and they can't see, lean to the side.

Two. If the children seated behind you are rustling papers, hand them a crayon.

Three. If there is a baby that is crying, offer to take it from its parent and walk to the back of the church and rock it for a while. The parent really needs a break.

Four. If the teenagers are whispering give them some Smarties. The rustling and crinkling will replace their whispering.

Five. If an adult complains to an usher about the noisy children near them, offer to trade seats with that adult and then apologize to the parents of the children.

Six. When a child is running around giving everyone high-fives during the time of passing the peace/greeting your neighbor, make sure to give them an extra fun high-five, and then high-five the next five adults that you see.

Seven. If a child has worn tap shoes to church and is dancing on the wood portion of the floor, slip the sheet music for "The Entertainer" to the pianist and roll with it.

Eight. When the children can't hear because an adult around them won't take off their puffy jacket and it keeps squeaking and distracting the children, offer to help them off with their jacket and go hang it up for them where it goes.

Nine. When the three-year-old insists on standing on the front pew turned backwards looking at the rest of the people, give the child a pair of very dark glasses. That will prevent the child from catching any adult's eye, which would lead to distracting them. This will protect the adults who as we know have very short attention spans and are easily distracted.

Ten. When a child in front of you is very squirmy, and then they finally turn around and you realize suddenly, "Oh, it's Jesus!" take it in stride and play Got Your Nose till he turns around to the front again.

(From Cindy Beal, Justice and Peace Consulting)

 

In God’s peace,

Pastor Grace

September 2017: "Children's Forums"

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, September 7, 2017 @ 11:13 AM

As anyone knows who has been paying attention, there has been quite a lot of change, and some degree of conflict, at Holy Trinity over the past few years when it comes to the matter of Christian education.  Starting in just a couple of weeks, we will be returning to what hopefully feels like a more familiar format for Sunday morning classes, but without losing what we have learned since 2015 about what works and what doesn’t.

A part – perhaps a surprisingly large part – of the conversation has been about what we call things.  Most people are used to calling the educational experience that happens on Sunday mornings “Sunday School,” at least for children.  (There are quite a few churches where everyone, regardless of age, has a “Sunday School class” they belong to.)  At Holy Trinity, the adult classes have been known as “Adult Forum” while the children went to Sunday School.

The origin of “Sunday School” was in outreach to the urban poor in the 19th century.  Before compulsory public education, children worked in mills and factories from a very early age, and Sunday was their only day off, so charitably inclined church folks organized Sunday Schools so that these poor children could at least learn the three R’s along with the Lord’s Prayer and the catechism.

With the advent of public schools and child labor laws, Sunday School then morphed into a class for the children within, rather than outside of, the church.  But it has really only been for about three generations that the “standard” way of forming children in the Christian faith has been to put them in a classroom with other children their own age, and “teach” them about it.

As serious Christian belief has become increasingly marginalized in our modern culture, the idea of “Sunday School” has become associated in many people’s minds with small-mindedness, anti-intellectualism, and, frankly, downright bigotry.  (The media does not help in this regard, by giving all the attention to the most extreme forms of Christian bigotry, and very little to the quiet majority of Christians who are doing our best to love and help our neighbor.)

All these factors have added up to a movement away from the classic idea of “Sunday School” as many remember it from the Baby Boom era, when churches were booming and classrooms were bursting at the seams.  It is now understood that mimicking the experience that kids have in school Monday-Friday is not the best way to form them as faithful, adult Christians, and that each church has to discern for itself what is the method that will enable all of its members to continue to grow in faith throughout their lives.

All this is background for why, for the 2017-18 program year, you will hear the church leadership and the Faith Formation Team refer to our Sunday morning classes for children and youth the same way we refer to our adult classes:  as Forums.  Children’s Forum and Youth Forum will join the Adult Forum as flexible, open-ended arenas for learning, questioning and exploring the biblical story.  Using a lectionary-based curriculum called Living the Good News, all ages will dive deeper into the readings that we hear every Sunday, and encounter God in Scripture in age-appropriate ways.  Between services on the second Sunday of the month, we will use the all-ages features of the same curriculum for a Forum that brings everyone together in the same way that we have enjoyed in the GIFT program.

See you in the Forums!

In God’s peace,

Grace 

August 2017: Recruiting Teachers for our new program year

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 10:21 AM

As we prepare for the kickoff of the “program year”, the Faith Formation Team is working on recruiting teachers for our children’s, youth and adult programs in Fall 2017.  A comprehensive sign-up sheet is posted in the gathering area, including job descriptions for teachers.  If you are contacted as someone we are inviting to teach, please give the idea your prayerful consideration.  If you are feeling called to teach, please get in touch with a member of the Faith Formation Team!

Here is the job description for a Lead Teacher:

Commit to either teaching, or finding a substitute, every Sunday that classes are offered for the semester.  Check website for materials; download the appropriate materials for your age group; and make sure enough copies are made.  Plan and prepare the lesson; or, delegate the planning and preparation to your assistant teacher by mutual agreement.  Check with teachers of other age groups to determine who will lead Opening.  Arrive at church no later than 9:15 on Sunday, and stay until the beginning of the 11:00 service.  Remain in your classroom after Opening for the duration of the lesson.

However, when I attended a workshop in Maine on Monday for Faith Formation professionals, I realized that there is a lot missing from that description.  It is an excellent rundown of the teacher’s practical responsibilities, but it misses the actual point of the whole exercise.  My colleagues at the workshop rebuked and taught me by example.

Here is a list of qualities that leaders mentioned during a brainstorm on what to look for when recruiting teachers to work with children:

  •          Investment in the life of the congregation
  •          People who want to be there and want to learn
  •          People who want to connect with kids and families and learn about their lives
  •          Faithfulness in relationship
  •          Modeling authenticity and vulnerability
  •          Flexibility and creativity
  •          Passion for faith

And here is the list of “What our Parish Offers You” for prospective teachers at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Windham, ME (hint:  Holy Trinity offers all these things too):

  •          An opportunity to serve children and families
  •          A director who will support and guide you as necessary
  •          A proven formation curriculum
  •          A well-stocked supply closet
  •          The prayerful support of clergy and lay leaders
  •          Opportunities for friendship, problem solving as a team, and a deeper faith journey

Does any of this sound like a description of you – or the person you’d like to be – or something you’d like to be involved in?  If so, God just might be calling you to the ministry of faith formation, and we would be overjoyed to welcome you into the joy of this work!

In God’s peace,

Grace 

Faith Formation for the 2017-18 program year!

Posted by Mark Donahue on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 11:10 AM

Second Sunday of the month (between the 8:30 and 11:00 services):  All Ages Learning

Other Sundays – the following groups will meet:

  • PreK-2nd Grade children
  • 3rd-6th Grade Children
  • Confirmation Class (7th/8th Grade)
  • High School Youth (9th-12th Grade)
  • Adult Forum
  • Adult Bible Study

All groups except the Adult Forum will focus on the lectionary readings for the day, the same scriptures that will be heard and preached in worship.

We are actively recruiting teachers for all classes!  Sign-up sheet for children and youth on the wall in the gathering area; for adults, talk to Linda Edwards.  We have carefully and extensively discerned the desire for these programs, and we need everyone to pitch in to make them happen!

Grace Burson,

On Behalf of the Faith Formation Team

Upcoming Forum

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, June 15, 2017 @ 1:38 PM

Last month in this space, we described the plan for Christian education for all ages that will be implemented beginning this fall.  This plan emerged from the Faith Formation Team’s meetings with our consultant, John Roberto, in the winter and spring.  Numerous members of Holy Trinity attended those meetings and contributed valuable input to the plan.  As we move toward making it a reality, the team wishes to continue to be in communication with the congregation.

This coming Sunday, June 18, after the 9:30 service, we invite you to an open forum on “(Re-)Forming Faith Formation” at Holy Trinity.  We will present the plan as it currently exists, take questions and feedback, and give information about how everyone can be involved in making it a success.  If attendance and interest are sufficient, we can conclude with breakout sessions for those who are interested in faith formation for children, for youth, and for adults, respectively. (If attendance is light or we hear from many who can’t make it on the 18th, we plan to offer the same forum again on the 25th.)

A number of people who were involved in Christian education at Holy Trinity in the past have told me that the tradition here is for parents to be primarily responsible for their children’s program of formation.  Parent involvement and commitment is certainly essential if children are to grow up with the kind of “sticky faith” that we all hope and pray for.  But the goal of faith formation for all ages is not just sticky faith but the building of intergenerational relationships and a community of mutual support.  Parents are overworked and families are stressed.  A truly successful and sustainable program of faith formation will involve all generations in the teaching of children – not just for the children’s sake, but for the sake of the older adults who teach them and thereby build relationships with them and deepen their life of faith.

The plan for the coming year includes a much more robust program for adult formation as well as periodic whole-church events building on the strengths of the GIFT model.  Please stay after church on June 18 to learn the details and find out how you can get involved!

2017-2018 Plan

Posted by Mark Donahue on Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 5:08 PM

On May 12, the Faith Formation Team and several other parish members met with John Roberto, the nationally-recognized consultant who has worked with Holy Trinity before, for the second time.  We went over and refined the draft of a plan for learning and growth in faith for the congregation.  We were grateful for all the feedback we received on Plan #1, which helped us to make it more attainable and more tailored to the parish’s needs.

As I mentioned during the announcement time on Sunday, in 2017-18 the plan is to build on the strengths of both the former “Sunday School” program and our recent intergenerational learning experiences.  We plan to offer a consistent schedule for Christian education, with programs every Sunday.  Most Sundays, those programs will be offered for at least three different age ranges:  children (possibly divided into older and younger groups), youth (confirmation and high school), and adults.  Periodically, all ages will come together for seasonal celebrations, service projects, or other faith experiences.

In order to provide focus and consistency, we will be using a curriculum (Living the Good News) that is based on the lectionary, the series of weekly readings we hear in church.  Thus, each week each age group will experience a lesson or activity based on the same passages of Scripture, so (grand)parents and children will be able to discuss together what each group learned that day.  The curriculum also provides all-age lessons, which we can use if we wish.  Conversely, if an important parish meeting must take place, the adults will not miss out entirely because they will still hear the lessons of the day and be able to pick up where they left off the following week.

In addition, we will create a designated area of the church website for faith learning at home and on the go.  Images, texts and activities will be posted weekly that will encourage all ages to engage more deeply with the Bible passages we have encountered at church on Sunday.  Families can incorporate these resources into their daily devotions, and those who travel frequently can use them to stay in touch with the church community.

We remain committed, with the help of Holy Trinity’s new pastor, to moving in the direction of a more comprehensive plan of spiritual growth and learning, which would look more like the original draft that many of you have read and commented on.  All of the pastoral candidates, when shown the plan, were enthusiastic both at its content and at the clear commitment to Christian education that it demonstrates, and were excited to work with us to put it into practice over the next 3-5 years. 

We hope to continue to integrate worship, service and learning, and to explore the possibilities for community building on Wednesday nights.  We recognize that there is a demand for grandparent/grandchild activities, and a need for more reflection and planning about how to fully integrate children into worship for both their own and their families’ sake.

Opportunities for feedback and conversation about the proposed 2017-18 plan will take place over the summer, before the planned implementation it in September.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us if you have more to say!

Peace,

 

Pastor Grace Burson

For the Faith Formation Team

Scott Carson

Julie Moore

Heidi Roberts Morrison

Erik Johannessen

Glenn Oswald

Lara Scammon

Linda Edwards

 

 

 

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