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Nothing About this is Normal

 

I don't know about you but after a few days the phrase "our new normal" really started bugging me. For one thing, there's nothing normal about this at all. At least I don't want this to be normal. I live alone, and as much as I love my alone time this is a little much. Looking at a calendar full of events I've drawn lines through, all the cancelled opportunities, all the postponed things breaks my heart. Within parish ministry I can only imagine what you all have been through. From the steep learning curve of how to move every meeting into an online setting to figuring out what pastoral care looks like right now, our way of life has been completely upended and tossed all over. I don't know about you, but right about now I am actually missing my office. And the boring stuff. And hugs. 

Your Diocesan Faith Formation office has held back sending this email for the last month, mainly because if your email in box looks anything like ours it is already full to bursting with ideas and resources and samples and suggestions of just what to do and just looking at it all is overwhelming. We didn't want to be one more overwhelming email. 

Now that we've made it past Easter, hopefully taken a few deep breaths (and a few days off), we'd like to know how best to help you. I can guess - but I'm really bad at it. You've been in my prayers from the beginning, but what else can I do for you? I would love to just gather youth and children's ministers once a week every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. to take a lunch break and a few deep breaths together on Zoom. If you're able, please register for the call HERE.

A colleague pointed me towards a new prayer book called Every Moment Holy and their new liturgies are beautiful. They've made some of their prayers for times such as these available for free and I highly recommend them for yourself.

A closing prayer from the Liturgy for Those Who Are Flooded by Too Much Information:

Give us discernment
to know when to pray,
when to speak out,
when to act,
and when to simply
shut off our screens
and our devices,
and to sit quietly
in your presence,

casting the burdens of this world
upon the strong shoulders
of the one who
alone
is able to bear them up.

Amen.

 ❤️ Caren Miles
Amy Cook
Working Group Head for Faith Formation
amyc@diocal.org
Caren Miles
Associate for Faith Formation
carenm@diocal.org

Formation Office Hours


Caren and Amy will both be hosting open office hours on Zoom. 
Amy is available Mondays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. For a link to the meeting email amyc@diocal.org

Caren's office hours will be Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. She's also hosting a Youth & Children's Ministry lunch chat on Wednesdays at noon. For links to these meetings email carenm@diocal.org

Both Amy and Caren are available to chat at other times, too, just ask. 

Our Favorite Resources for Right Now 


You all have been creating amazing lessons, videos, and resources in the past weeks. If you have something you'd like to share with the wider diocese, please send it to us. 

For families and children Caren likes Faith @Home,  Spreading Hope: Activities for Families Stuck at Home, and Illustrated Ministry.

For adults Amy likes Prayer and Worship in Our Homes from Church Next, Daily Prayer for All Seasons, and Sacred Space

Online Faith Formation Workshops

The Formation Working Group will be offering free online workshops around different Christian education and spiritual formation topics. These workshops are free and require a simple registration through the zoom link. 
If there is something you would like to see covered by a workshop, please contact Amy Cook, amyc@diocal.org.  
 
Thursday, April 16, 4:00 – 5:15 p.m.
Not Your Grandma’s Bible Study: Biblical Literacy for the Episcopal Church
We hear scripture each Sunday, but many parishioners have a limited understanding of the bible. Come learn about the latest resources to help foster biblical literacy beyond traditional bible study. We will also discuss interpretation and the barriers to learning for many, as well as how to help people fit biblical engagement into busy lives. This workshop is led by Amy Cook and was to be offered at the March 7th Beloved Community Training Day.
Link and registration HERE
 
Friday, April 17, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m.
How to Mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in the Middle of a Pandemic
Churches are now worshiping online and we are all refraining from public meetings and public service projects. But we can still observe and celebrate Earth day both privately and in our congregations. This workshop, presented by Amy Cook and the Commission on Creation Care, will look at resources for online Earth Day liturgies, education with online groups, and individual practices to mark and celebrate the ideals of Earth Day. We will also discuss ways to look at what we are learning from this pandemic and take those lessons forward for climate justice.
Link and registration HERE 
 
Thursday, April 23, 4:00 – 5:15 p.m.
Spiritual Practices for Vestries & Other Groups 
This workshop will explore how to add spiritual practices into our church meetings beyond an opening prayer. Participants will learn many kinds of practices to center and focus a meeting as well as allowing room for the Spirit to work. We will talk about discernment as a regular practice for decision making or for finding the right people for specific ministries in the community. This workshop is led by Amy Cook and was to be offered at the March 7th Beloved Community Training Day.
Link and registration
 
Monday, April 27, 3:30-4:00 p.m.
Mini Retreat on Christina Rossetti
April 27th is the day the Episcopal Church remembers the poet Christina Rossetti in A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations. She is remembered for many poems, including In the Bleak Midwinter, one of our most beloved Christmas carols. Over half of her work is devotional in nature and reflects her deep faith and the influence of the Oxford Movement. Join us online to remember her life and ponder the role of the arts in the church. Led by Amy Cook.
Link and registration
The 2020 Episcopal Youth Event has been postponed. Hopefully we will only have to wait until next year. The event team is working hard to move everything to July of 2021. For more information, you can read the official announcement from Office of Youth Ministries here. 

Links

Faith Formation blog
Forma Facebook Page
Forma Website

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