Christian Formation this Fall: A Note from the Rector

I am happy to share with you our plans for Christian formation and education this Fall.  While I wish things could be normal, I am also energized by the creativity and determination of our Sunday School teachers and parents. 

Sunday School

Our Sunday School will have two components this Fall.  First, on two Sundays a month our committed teachers will offer online Zoom Sunday School for both ages groups.  Second, on alternating Sundays, we will offer an in-person an intergenerational, family service that includes a Sunday school-type lesson (instead of a traditional sermon) and Eucharist.  Especially during September and October, this service will be held outdoors as the weather permits. All services will follow protocols for social distancing, masks, etc.  When weather gets colder, we will re-evaluate our plan in light of current conditions. Our Sunday School teachers are working with parents to put together times and dates for these offerings, which I will pass along soon.  

To celebrate the beginning of the Sunday School year, we will be offering all families a “Sunday School in a Box.”  This will contain lots of fun items and things our teachers would like each of our beloved students to have.  These boxes will be available starting on Sunday, September 13th.  Stay tuned for more specific information.

Lastly, we would love to have more Sunday School teachers!  We have a great curriculum that gives you everything you need, and is easy and efficient to prepare.  All you really need to begin to be a Sunday School teacher is an open and caring heart, as well as the ability to complete state and diocesan requirements for background and safety checks.  As a former Sunday School teacher myself, I can testify that the benefits and rewards of being a Sunday School teacher are enormous.  There is nothing like sharing your gifts and your love to nurture a young person in their faith journey and their connection to God, their family, and each other.  

Adult Formation  

Opportunities for adult Christian formation will be online this Fall with some supplemental opportunities in print.  

Online, we will offer a 5 week Zoom conversation called “Our Story, Their Story, God’s Story.” This conversation will explore how our own stories are connected to the stories of others, especially those who are different than us. Through engagement with Scripture, we will discover how all our stories are intertwined with God’s story of salvation and healing for all. The conversations will be on Wednesday nights at 6:15 starting on September 16th.  We will end each session in the most appropriate way imaginable by joining our regularly scheduled Compline service at 7:30PM.  

Zoom Bible Study will continue on Thursdays at 11AM.  We are about two thirds done in our reading of the book of Deuteronomy, but you can join anytime!

We are also working on some “lo-fi” opportunities for learning and connection this Fall.  We are looking to reboot our monthly print newsletter.  We are thinking of offering a reading group that would meet less frequently (perhaps through a group phone call).  You can also “mail order” print versions of my Sunday sermons and a daily devotional called “Forward Day by Day.”  Keep watching for more information on all of this.  

Of course, our liturgy is also Christian education and formation. It is first and foremost worship to God and our way to offer God thanksgiving and receive God’s grace. But, it also teaches us things about how to be Christian–and more fundamentally–how to be human. I encourage you to embrace the rhythms of worship that we have available to us: Sunday Eucharist, either in-person or online; and the Daily Offices, including our nightly Compline service.

Necessity births innovation, but what hasn’t changed is our baptismal identity as God’s beloved.  Through that identity, we can find ways to honor our commitment to each other and to Jesus Christ and to grow in faith and love.   Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me! 

Author: jstambaugh

Rector of Church of the Holy Apostles, Penn Wynne, an Episcopal Church in Wynnewood, PA.

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