In keeping with our series it seems appropriate that Lifelong Formation be the third part of this months post. One might say the Lifelong Formation office serves as bookends on the continuum of the work of the Formation and Vocation Ministries. There are three major age categories which my office focuses on: Children, Adults and Older Adults all of which further break down into specific age groups.
If we were to look at the perspective of Donald Capps’ decades of life, the work of the office supports the first and half of the second decade of life, where my colleague Bronwyn picks up the continuum and Jason hands it back to me when we move into the middle-adult decades and than into the older-decades.
The ministry of this office is to support dioceses and provinces by assisting laity and clergy in responding to the Christian formation and education needs of the people. We serve by providing training, connecting people and resources and developing new resources. We also work in close partnership with Diversity, Social and Environmental ministries to assure that formation resources which are developed and used by congregations meet the contextual needs and profile of the individual congregation. You can find resources at:
Both Children and Older Adult Ministries are confronted with similar threats to their dignity and well-being, so we advocate on their behalf on issues such as abuse, poverty, education, health and basic care.
The office is supported by the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation which is made up of individuals from across the church. We also have representation on the National Council of Churches committee on Children & Families and the Education committee. Our work is supported by two non-profit organizations which are committed to the formation and education work of practitioners in the Episcopal Church:”Forma” which is a network of paid and volunteer formation leaders in the Episcopal Church (formerly known as NAECED and NOERC an association for those working in Episcopal Resource Centers.
This year, the office will once again sponsor the Children’s Program at General Convention in Indianapolis. The program provides a faith formation experience for children while their parents or guardians go about the business of the convention. The theme this year is The Abundant Life Garden Project. The program is for children from 6 months to those who have completed Grade 5, from July 2nd through 12th, 2012. You can find the registration site here: GC Children’s Program
In partnership with my colleagues the work of the office is grounded in the Baptismal Covenant, The Five Marks’ of Mission and The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation. (http://formationcharter.com/)
The Lifelong Formation office is committed to an interdependent relationship with dioceses and provinces by assisting them in nurturing congregations that are communities of transformation. I, too, as Jason so aptly put it, am here to support and encourage you, to connect you with the resources and people you need, to advocate for you, to help you share your stories and to pray for you. Like Bronwyn and Jason, I am happy to serve as a workshop leader, process facilitator, keynoter or preacher. You can reach me by email, and Facebook. I look forward to hearing about all the wonderful work you are doing and would like to share it with others. Remember lifelong formation begins with birth and continues throughout life. As my friend Betsy Bowman once said, “My Baptismal Covenant has no expiration date.”
Ruth Ann Collins
Officer for Lifelong Formation
Formation and Vocation Ministries Team