Faith Formation 2022 Report

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 everyone under the age of 18.  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. 

Amy Cook:

It has been delightful to have in-person gatherings again such as the Day of Discernment and the Clergy Retreat. We are particularly supporting and celebrating the first Day of Discernment in Spanish for this diocese. This year we rolled out new resources for lay licensing with the newly revamped diocesan website, and a new antiracism training available online at no cost. A good portion of my work in 2022 has been divided among 3 very large projects:

  1. Vital & Thriving – This year saw the launch of this exciting program for churches that has been several years in the making. I am part of the leadership team participating in the formation weekends, ongoing support to churches participating in the cohorts, and helping create supporting materials for the Vital & Thriving Program. I am beginning to coach the lay leaders in the cohort churches in this process. I am also curating additional resources for all diocesan churches – whether they are involved in Vital & Thriving or not – to learn to walk deeper in in the vitality practices of Invitation, Collaboration, Diversity, Community Embeddedness, and Sustainability.
  2. Deacon Formation – Our School for Deacons is part of a Deacon’s Collaborative with many other dioceses to understand the needs for deacon formation today. Together we have worked in both large and small groups with Bexley-Seabury Seminary to extend our competency-based model and update the AED competencies to reflect the needs of this diocese and our understanding of the current needs of deacons and diaconal ministry. The outcome will be new diaconal formation opportunities starting in 2023 with Bexley-Seabury seminary.
  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. This project includes the new Sacred Earth monthly video podcast, as well as more resources in development for church groups to learn and practice sustainability together through expanded use of the carbon tracker. We are also developing more online resources that connect faith with living sustainably on an earth in crisis.

Caren Miles:

In January Amy, Caren and a number of youth and children’s ministers, lay and ordained, volunteer and paid, attended the online FORMA conference. We were able to learn from and meet with formation ministers from across the Episcopal Church. Our working group will continue to subsidize in-person and online attendance at the next FORMA conference in January. With the expansion of in person events and our commitment to support training for youth leaders, we are also hoping to join a few of our fellow Episcopalians at the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza in February 2023.

As the school year began in late August, there has been renewed interest and participation in Diocesan and Deanery Youth Events. So far, youth ministers in four deaneries have met and formed partnerships in the hopes of gathering our youth at events in 2023. We are planning an overnight with a service project for MLK Weekend, a retreat at the Bishop’s Ranch for high school students, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral for all ages, and traveling to Maryland in July for the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE).

This year has also included many in-person trainings for Whole and Healthy Church and the invitation to preach in many diocesan churches.

Amy Cook, Canon for Faith Formation

Caren Miles, Associate for Faith Formation