Faith Formation Report

Submitted by:
Amy Cook, Canon for Faith Formation
Caren Miles, Associate for Faith Formation

Submitted to: the 174th Diocesan Convention, 26 September 2023

The Faith Formation Working Group is dedicated to assisting congregations in the lifelong process of learning and growing in the Christian faith. The Working Group covers the lifelong journey of faith, dividing the work with Amy Cook focusing on adults and Caren Miles focusing on children, youth, and Whole & Healthy Church.  Together, the Faith Formation Working Group consults, provides and curates resources, designs and leads training, and supports congregations and institutions of the diocese in their work of creating safe and transformational environments for learning and growing in faith.

This has been the year of learning what will work after pandemic. Many churches are not doing programs in the same way they did before pandemic, and we have taken bold steps of experimentation and growth. The Faith Formation Working Group has been following trends, experimenting, visiting churches, preaching, leading trainings, and working to support local experiments.

 Amy Cook:

A good portion of my work in 2023 has been divided among 3 very large projects:

  1. Vital + Thriving– This year has been about expanding and solidifying training and resources. I am the support staff to the lay Steering Teams and Listening Teams in the Vital + Thriving program. It is a delight to visit with the different teams and attend Sunday morning services in our different churches. This journey with V+T is different for every congregation and yet they are learning to share and support one another. A new cohort will be added this fall and it is exciting to see what churches are learning about themselves and their neighborhoods.
  2. Deacon Formation– After a few years of reimagining and redesigning, and then collaborating with diaconal formation folks from other dioceses and Bexley-Seabury Seminary, our School for Deacons is now the only online diaconal training program available to anyone in the entire Episcopal Church. This is a huge benefit to the entire church and is helping many smaller dioceses offer a fuller educational and formational experience to those in the ordination process.
  3. Sacred Earth: Growing Beloved Community– This project comes out of deep environmental work of Bishop Marc Andrus and the partnership of Dr. Paloma Pavel, a member of All Soul’s, Berkeley and frequent lecturer and keynote presenter nationally and internationally on the theory of living systems and urban sustainability. We have had a year of amazing webcasts interviewing leaders in the environmental movement about their work and the spiritual practices that support them. And each webcast features live musicians who are amazing and not to be missed. Each one has been recorded and can be found at https://faithinformed.org


Caren Miles:

In January Caren and a number of youth and children’s ministers, lay and ordained, volunteer and paid, attended the FORMA conference in Alexandria, VA. We were able to learn from and meet with formation ministers from across the Episcopal Church. Our working group will continue to subsidize online attendance at the next FORMA conference in January 2024.

With the direct support of my office, three deaneries (Alameda, Contra Costa, and Southern Alameda) continued to build on partnerships formed last year. They have been meeting together once a month for fellowship, community, service, and worship. Diocesan youth events included overnights and service projects done over MLK weekend and a pilgrimage to Grace Cathedral for all ages. We also had a delegation attend the Episcopal Youth Event in College Park, Maryland. (see EYE report on page ___)

It is our hope in 2024 to expand this teamwork into the other deaneries, as well as bringing the youth together at the Diocesan level. We are beginning to envision youth activities in the coming year, and with renewed energy around youth ministry we are really optimistic about the possibilities the coming year brings.

This past year has also included many in-person trainings for Whole and Healthy Church and the beginnings of a team to continue Safe Church work in other ways with other people.


Amy Cook, Canon for Faith Formation

Caren Miles, Associate for Faith Formation