Called to Transformation ABCD facilitator formation workshops announced for 2016; registration open for April

Slide1Called to Transformation is a partnership between The Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief & Development.  The workshops are designed to train leaders in methods and tools to enhance local ministry and mission.

I highly recommend this training for Youth Ministers, especially at the regional and diocesan level. Called to Transformation could help yield some innovative approaches to mission and ministry. This is leadership development that holds potential across generations, locations, and traditional divisions in ministry. – Bronwyn Clark Skov

Asset-Based Community Development engages communities at a grassroots level to recognize local assets – such as people, buildings, relationships and even faith – and creatively envision how to use that abundance to achieve goals and imagine new forms of ministry.

“ABCD brings people together to transform their communities. It focuses on the gifts and strengths of individuals, congregations and organizations. By recognizing their own gifts, people are empowered to more deeply invest in achieving the shared goals of the community.” -Sean McConnell, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Director of Engagement

Through the trainings, participants will learn about the theory and the practice of ABCD work, and then begin the process of creating a working plan to implement an Asset-Based Community Development project in their own ministry community.

Four Called to Transformation Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) facilitator formation workshops have been slated for 2016: April 18-21, Solomon Episcopal Conference Center, New Orleans, LA; June 13-16, Dumas Bay Center Seattle, WA; August 8-11, Nashotah House, Milwaukee, WI; and September 19-22, Bosque Center, Albuquerque, NM.

Register now for April training.

For more information click here or visit calledtotransformation.org

Rhythms of Lent – Tend

The Third Mark of Mission: To respond to human need by loving service.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ – John 21:15-17

missionmondays-176x176This passage of John has given me a place to ground my ministry for years. I have read about it, listened to others preach about it, preached about it myself, looked into the different ways of reading it, discovered the different words used for love and what this might have meant for their culture. Yet I always come back to the simple reading of it, and what it says about our relationship with Jesus and our relationship to those around us.

Jesus leans over to Simon Peter – the one who is constantly getting it right and wrong – and asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Simon Peter replies the first two times, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” and the third time, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” If you go to the original texts there are nuances to the words used for love. However, for me, the focus tends to be on Jesus’ response to these questions about love and Peter’s responses to those questions.

Jesus responds to Peter differently each time. To the first reply he says, “Feed my lambs.” To the second, “Tend my sheep.” To the third, “Feed my sheep.” There are slight, but important differences in each of these responses. Jesus is highlighting the fact that as a disciple and as a follower, we are called to take a lifelong approach to bringing people to know God.

The first time, Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my lambs.” Lambs are young and inexperienced; therefore we need to feed those that are young and those that are new in their faith. They will need to be fed in many ways – with the stories of God, the stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the stories of how they live in the world as people of God. They need to be fed in body, mind and spirit.

The second time Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” The next step in the journey as Jesus’ followers and now the spreaders of the word is that they are to tend. To tend is to care for someone or something. Tending is to watch over, to manage and to oversee. Jesus is saying to Simon Peter, if you love me, you will not only bring up those that are young in the faith, you will also tend to and care for those who already believe. You will oversee them, you will see to it that they are not led astray, that they don’t wander off, that they continue to be fed, and that they are encouraged to grow and become fully who they were created to be.

Finally Jesus says to Simon Peter the third time, “Feed my sheep.” Just as the disciples are being called to feed and nurture those who are new, and care for those who are with them on the journey, they, too, are to continue to feed those that are mature, continue to give them those things that are essential to their development as followers of Christ. They are to give them sustenance so they can continue their journey, and help in the raising of the young and the tending of those that are younger than they.

This is their new way of life to nurture, to tend, to oversee, to sustain, to grow those around them in the faith and love of Jesus Christ. That is not only their way of life, but the way of life for us all. We are all called into the life with God and along the way we have been fed when we were young, tended to when we were maturing, and fed more when we were older. It is the practice of lifelong formation, of lifetime learning, of generational faith development.

I wonder how you are tending to those around you this Lenten season? I wonder who might be tending to you?

Faithfully,

The Rev. Shannon Kelly

Acting Missioner for Campus and Young Adult Ministries


To read the more from this series:

Introduction: Mission, Baptism, and Your Lenten Journey

Mark 1: To proclaim the good news of the kingdom – Rhythms of Lent

Mark 2: To teach, baptize, and nurture all believers – Rhythms of Lent – Teach

Youth Bloggers Needed!

EARTHAre you striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and striving to sustain and renew the life of the earth? Yes? Then you are living the Fifth Mark of Mission and we want to share your story!

On March 24th the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society will be hosting a 90 minute forum on the Climate Change Crisis. Following the live webcast, we are kicking off 30 Days of Action to engage the Fifth Mark of Mission (otherwise known as “Treasure” at EYE14). The effort will take place during Lent through the first part of Easter up to Earth Day on April 22.

A 30 Days of Action bulletin insert has been prepared for this Sunday that you can distribute at your church. You can find the links to a couple of formats here on the Sermons that Work page.

During the 30 days we have reserved Wednesdays for youth in Action. How do you act when it comes to preserving the earth for future generations? We need four faithful stories from four engaged youth who can teach the rest of us how to engage in turning the climate crisis around rather than submitting to being overwhelmed. Do you run a recycling program at your church or school? Are you the household monitor of unplugging appliances? Do you distribute blankets and sleeping bags to your friends to keep warm while watching TV because you turn your thermostat down in the winter? Did you build a rain garden with your peers last summer?

Word-cloud5Please submit approximately 300 words, give or take, to Youth Missioner Bronwyn Clark Skov no later than March 20 for consideration as a guest blogger. We can’t pay you, but the church sure needs your example, your encouragement, and your fresh ideas. Please, tell us how you are living this particular mark of mission!

Bronwyn can be reached at bskov@episcopalchurch.org and will follow-up with a parent/guardian media release if your story will be published.

Rhythms of Lent

missionmondays-176x176Lent calls us to find new rhythms or to get in touch with old rhythms that have become out of sync. During this holy time, we are called to listen, to promise, and to act. Starting with the solemn imposition of Ashes, we are reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return and thus begins a time of self-examination and repentance. Our Christian traditions attempt to interpret the sacred stories passed on from generation to generation. Commentaries and lexicons capture the words and verses providing analytical information. Stained glass windows become a universal language of images that stimulate our imagination. However, all of this information is useless unless we open ourselves and allow the passion of the stories to seep into the depths of our being. As Christians we are a people of stories: our individual story, the story of humankind, and of course the “Great Story.” These are the stories of transformation.

These forty days of study, prayer, and reflection remind us that we are called to be more than passive observers. The first of the Five Marks of Mission, “To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom” gives us the foundation on which the other four marks are set. The mission of the church is to proclaim Christ’s mission. The words of our public confession of sin against God “in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and left undone” is a proclamation, a public announcement that we promise to do something.

Francis of Assisi’s is quoted as saying “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” This is an open invitation to act in accordance with God’s will. Perhaps this Lent if each of us focuses on one simple change in our actions, together we can affect a positive change in one other person’s life.

This Lent as every Lent before we have the opportunity to add to the narrative and story of who we are as people of God. How will we be transformed? What will be the rhythms of a Holy Lent? How might we listen, what might we promise, and how will we act.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word. Let my supplication come before you deliver me according to your promise.

– Psalm 119:169 & 170

 

Shalom,

Ruth-Ann Collins

Missioner for Lifelong Formation

Mission, Baptism, and Your Lenten Journey

This Lent, as you walk your Lenten journey, the Formation Missioners invite you to spend some time each week thinking, pondering, and praying about where God is calling you to engage in mission. We also invite you to name and claim those places and spaces in which you are already engaged in mission.

Traditionally, Lent is a preparation time for those who will be baptized on Easter. It is a time to reflect on the promises made at baptism, a time of repentance, prayer, and renewal. Our baptismal promises reflect how God is calling each of us to live in the world.

  • To continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers
  • To persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord
  • To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ
  • To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself
  • To strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being

The Five Marks of Mission are actions we can put into practice to fully engage the baptismal promises we have made or will make.

  • Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • Respond to human need by loving service
  • Seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
  • Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

An easy way to remember the Five Marks of Mission (as we learned at the Episcopal Youth Event this summer) is:

  • Tell
  • TeachEYE_square_banner_FINAL_white
  • Tend
  • Treasure
  • Transform

Each Monday, we will offer a reflection on one of the five marks of mission and invite you to join us in discussion, contemplation, and action as we engage in God’s mission during this time of Lent.

Discerning Christian Vocation with Youth Across Europe

Mission MondaysRecently I had the pleasure of joining the youth ministers and young people of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe for their annual youth events. For many years they have been convening teenagers for Youth Across Europe (YAE) during Ascension week. Recently they added a program for 10-13 year olds called Juniors Across Europe (JAE). Both of these events included youth and adults from several of the parishes and missions in Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium.

Jane Doebler, the volunteer youth ministry coordinator for the convocation, was my host and tour guide as I met up with the YAE event in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and then traveled to Budingen, Germany, just north of Frankfurt for JAE.

Each of these events had a feel quite similar to a diocesan or provincial retreat, or akin to camp or vacation Bible school. There was a daily rhythm of food, fellowship, faith and fun. Anglican prayers (Episcopal, Scottish, New Zealand) and excellent music gave structure to our worship. The group at YAE in France was engaged in a theme of discerning Christian vocation. We also engaged in service work, small groups, and some friendly competitive fun. There was a similar pattern with the juniors, although not as in depth with the small group sessions.

photoWhen it came time for my session with the teens, I realized that I couldn’t do my regular Episcopal Church cheerleading, as over half of the youth are from families who do not claim the Episcopal Church as their Christian tradition. Some of those teens were participating with the Episcopal Church because it is the only English speaking option for their current and temporary residential context. Some of the youth are unchurched but thirsty for peers who have a common American background. Some are Episcopal by affiliation and are European born but have one parent who is a U.S. citizen and another who is not. And some come from an Anglican background and choose to worship with the Episcopalians in Europe.

This mix of youth, living in a land that may or may not be of their birth, and who may or may not have the local language as their first language, are known as Third Culture Kids. I had never heard the term before so I had to do a little research. The term was coined in the 1960s and referred initially to Foreign Service workers’ children. But the definition has expanded as global business, immigration, and refugee resettlement have contributed to the growth of this population of youth who “belong everywhere and nowhere” simultaneously.

I began with a super condensed history of how the Episcopal Church came into being, starting with Jesus, of course, and wrapping up with the current Presiding Bishop. I then spoke briefly to the Baptism which we all held common. I quickly transitioned to the Five Marks of Mission as a place where the Episcopal Church holds common ground within and without our own Christian tradition.

It was a delight to see the faces around the room comprehend that they didn’t have to become Episcopalian to pray with us or to join us in God’s mission in the world. They quickly and thoroughly grasped the idea of engaging with God through Christ by practicing these five things; Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, and Treasure. It was an easy transition to do some vocational discernment with them once they could let go of the denominational divide and embrace that which God has given them to do.

My prayers are with them, all of them. And I trust they are holding me and EYE14 in their prayers, too.

Where are you in Mission this summer?

Mission MondaysAs summer approaches, Episcopal youth groups and faith communities will surely be spreading out across the church on mission experiences and pilgrimages.

Is your group engaging a mission experience or pilgrimage this summer?If so, we would love to know where you are going and what you might be doing so that we can lift up your ministry and keep you in our prayers. [Read more…]

Bring Back Our Girls

ens_050814_bringBackOurGirls1-500x500I give thanks for my friend and colleague, Roger Hutchison, from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

As I was feeling hopeless and anxious about the situation with the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, Roger’s reflection came across social media. He gave eloquent, passionate words to the roiling in my gut and the ache in my own heart. If you haven’t already read his reflection, I encourage you to do so.

It begins like this:

We are in the fifty days of Easter, but I am having a hard time saying “Alleluia.”

We learned today that eight more girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria.  This adds to the 276 that we are aware of. Faces of grief, anger, and fear cover the screens of our televisions, computers, smart phones and Twitter feeds.  The angry reaction is palpable.

The social media world is buzzing.  Bring back our girls.

#BringBackOurGirls

Read Roger’s full post, We need an alleluia, on the Episcopal News Service blog.

Just minutes ago, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued the following statement:

The Episcopal Church is horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way. The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex. The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity. I pray that all Episcopalians, and all people of faith and good will, will pray and plead with their political leaders to find the kidnappers, liberate these girls, and restore them to the safety they deserve. May God have mercy on us all.

I invite you to join me – and Episcopalians across the globe – in prayer. And I encourage you to take whatever appropriate action available to you. I have signed an online petition and my praying will continue until the situation is resolved. I will also hold my children and godchildren and nieces and nephews just a little closer.

Thank you, Roger, for giving us the words we need when we need them.

#BringBackOurGirls

Faithfully,

Bronwyn

Mission in the West

Mission MondaysRecently I was invited to Idaho to attend their annual Diocesan Convention. I conversed with the Rt. Rev. Brian Thom and members of his staff to learn how I might be most helpful. The theme they selected was “Many Voices, One Song.”

Bishop Thom asked that I help them understand and address issues of the “spiritual but not religious,” inclusion of rising generations in leadership, and being outwardly focused on God’s mission in their unique communities rather than dwelling inwardly on their uniquely Episcopal stress points.

I accomplished a good amount of reading in my preparation to address the convention in an effort to help clarify the difference between a generation, defined by the chronological cycle of birth dates and cultural references, and a Generational Cohort, defined by a cataclysmic event that causes a new value system demanding new structures in society.

Embracing the idea of Generational Cohorts, which do not lump all Baby-Boomers together, was a helpful perspective. Thinking about cataclysmic events within the church, and how those events have impacted local faith communities, was also an interesting exercise for participants in discussions at their tables. Having the teenagers of Idaho’s Official Youth Presence at convention, along with a few articulate, energetic, and faithful Gen X leaders was very helpful and encouraging.

What was evident to me was an amazing amount of energy and activity for mission across the diocese. I shared the Five Marks of Mission with the gathering as a tool for both observing the mission already lived out by the members, and to help discern what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do. The Five Marks of Mission provide theologically based, Baptismally sound, action language to name, claim, and engage mission.

I asked the members of the diocese to bridge from one generation to the next in identifying, affirming, equipping and partnering with potential leaders in mission according to gifts, skills, needs, and passion. They responded with many stories. I witnessed the generous distribution of $36,215.36 in grants awarded to 14 mission projects across the diocese through the work of the Idaho Episcopal Foundation. We all affirmed the amazing and faithful ministry of members of St. James’, Payette, for their prison ministry at the Snake River Correctional Institution, as they were honored with the “Hands and Heart of Jesus Award” for 2013.

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And speaking of the Snake River, what an impressive and beautiful place in the world! I was mesmerized watching Base-Jumpers in Twin Falls leap from the Perrine Bridge, trusting in their skill and parachutes to bear them safely to the ground, 486 feet below the deck of the bridge. I marveled at this leap of faith being taken by people clearly participating in a spiritual and ritualistic experience. I suggested that Episcopalians in the area might consider offering blessings of parachutes and base jumpers from time to time, much as many Minnesota clergy bless motorcycles and riders each spring.

I found many different and delightful Episcopalians in Idaho, singing the one song of the Gospel, loving God with all their hearts, minds and souls, and loving their neighbors as themselves.

It was a honor and a blessing to be called to visit you, Idaho. May your mission live long as you continue to meet the needs of the world in your sacred space of creation faithfully following Jesus.

Faithfully,

Bronwyn

Getting Serious About Transformative Mission Experiences

Sheryl Kujawa-HolbrookToday’s Mission Monday blog post is by the Rev. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Claremont School of Theology. She serves as professor of practical theology and religious education at Claremont School of Theology, and as professor of Anglican Studies at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. Sheryl originally wrote this piece for a mission exchange project initiated several years ago. As we resurrect this important project under the new working title, Episcopal Youth in Mission, her words are as timely as ever. I encourage you to carefully read and process Sheryl’s wisdom before planning your next mission experience.

Mission Mondays

Social Action Projects:
A More Excellent Way

As the summer program season approaches, many congregations and dioceses begin planning social action or “mission” trips with young people. But just how meaningful are these “trips”?

Such learning experiences can build self-esteem and leadership skills, as well as a greater sense of social responsibility. Yet well-intentioned projects far too often fall short of potential benefits, becoming primarily opportunities for travel on the part of the sponsors, and sources of anger or feelings of powerlessness for those visited. Some projects, emphasizing work and the desire to help others, only reinforce the status quo, rather than offering a transformative opportunity for young people to see the world anew.

Social action projects for young people, in order to be transformative experiences, need to both educate young people on how oppression operates in our society, and stress how we, who are part of the dominant culture, participate in that oppression. Rather than patronize the poor and the oppressed, participants need to learn to recognize how God is already at work among those they encounter.

These are just the opening paragraphs of this powerful article. Download the full article, Social Action Projects: More Excellent Wayfor Sheryl’s criteria for congregations and dioceses planning mission experiences for youth.