The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | December 2018
Faith formation encompasses the ministries and activities offered by the church that help people grow in faith and in their understanding of and love for God.

The Way of Love | The Bishop's Bookshelf
Faith Formation Events & Ideas for:
Youth | Young Adults | Adults | Children & Families
Recommendations from the Resource Center
A Poem, of course

The Next Step on "The Way of Love"
Over Thanksgiving I was in Texas, a place my family called home for five years. I heard the word “bless” used liberally as is the custom there and it made me smile: “We are so blessed that Jason marched in the Macy’s parade;” “It was a blessing that our home sold so quickly;” "I feel blessed that the turkey was not overly dry;" etc., etc.!

Yep, it smacks a bit of the “prosperity theology” that Bishop Rickel soundly critiques in his Thanksgiving video message. But you've got to hand it to them, the people of Texas are unapologetic believers who will readily -- often unthinkingly -- credit God for any brush with good fortune.

The Bible makes copious use of the word “bless” too -- nearly 600 mentions in the NRSV translation. And it’s everywhere this time of year. Your Christmas pageant probably starts with the Angel Gabriel declaring to Mary, “Blessed art thou among women,” and, of course, ends with the sweetest blessing of all: Jesus in the manger.

Presiding Bishop Curry cites Matthew in his introduction to “Bless” in the Way of Love:

“What have you been freely given? What can you freely give?” (10:8)

What a lovely equation. Perhaps this is the best way to understand the dual nature of blessings. And maybe by keeping these two accounts in balance we can more deeply realize what it means to be blessed.

Here’s to a joyful and meaningful Christmas!

-- Valerie Reinke
The Bishop's Bookshelf
By Bishop Greg Rickel

Perhaps for obvious reasons right now I am reading a book by Parker Palmer, entitled  Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.
Of course, this is timely, but also timeless. Palmer focuses on the actual need for tension in the system of government we have adopted in this country, but it also must include, as Abraham Lincoln famously said, and the quote Palmer riffs off of throughout this book, “appealing to our better angels” and not the least common denominator, demonizing one another.

We need the tension, the protest, the free speech, but it has to be matched with civility and care for the other. Seems simple, but our public life right now would suggest we need to be taught again. This is the first of a few on this topic I plan to read.  
Faith Formation Mini-Conference
When: Saturday, March 2, 2019, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Childcare provided. Registration opens next month.

Where: St. Margaret, Bellevue

What: Better Together is a gathering of church educators, staff, clergy and v olunteers, from across the Diocese of Olympia.

Why: This one-day conference will highlight innovative and exciting ways to connect people with their faith. You can expect a key-note speaker who inspires; workshop tracks on faith formation for children & families, youth, and adults; as well as an interdisciplinary track dedicated to music & the arts.

Interested in presenting a workshop? Do you have ideas for making Better Together better than ever? Connect with
Lending a Hand. Bishop Greg was all-in at last month's middle school retreat: talking about his own faith journey; joining the kids in discussion about what Episcopalians believe; serving as judge for Episco-Jeopardy (it's a thing!); and playing a wicked game of sproutball. Many thanks to him and to St. Paul, Bellingham for hosting the "Where's My Faith?” fall retreat. Join us next time!
Last Chance:
All-Expense Paid Youth Ministry
Leadership Retreat Weekend
Are you a youth leader, youth group volunteer or a priest who carries leadership responsibility in youth ministry?... We want to invite you to a retreat where you will be ministered to, equipped for the ministry you provide, and connected to others who do this good work. This retreat is a gift to you for all you do on behalf of our youth.

St. Andrew's House offers great opportunities to be in a gorgeous natural setting and to spend time with God, just as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 is within reach. To maximize your ability to attend there is no cost. If you can only come one day, Saturday has the bulk of the content.
12/28-12/30 at St. Andrew's House on the Hood Canal (7 PM Friday arrival, 8 AM start Saturday, Sunday departure 1 PM) 
Questions? E-mail Denise Brumbaugh or go to

South End Regional
Youth Christmas Party!
This Sunday , December 16th, St. Columba, Kent will host a Regional Youth Advent Party from 1- 4:00 p.m., geared for youth in grades 6-12. We'll have holiday cookies, Christmas ornament making, and some wacky holiday games. All teens are welcome! E-mail Elaine Ogden for more info.

If you are hosting a regional event for youth or children, please contact to publicize in this newsletter.
Plan Ahead for Youth!
Save These Dates...

Mar 15-17, 2019 - We Rise Today! High School Retreat , Black Diamond Camp in Auburn (grades 9-12)
Onsite lodging, special activities!

May 3-5, Impact , Middle School Retreat (grades 6-9)
Location TBD

May 11, Launch for Graduating Seniors NEW!
Launch is an all-new, one-day event filled with workshops, activities and lunch with the Bishop to help all graduating high school seniors prepare for this major life transition.
St. Thomas, Medina


July 14 - 20, 6-Day Summer Camp , Camp Huston, (current grades 9-12)

August 4 -10, Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage NEW!
With special guest: the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. We invite those in youth ministry and leadership to join our planning team. Write for more info.

Registration for youth events will open in 2019.
Youth, Youth Leaders, Volunteers & Parents
Follow Diocesan Youth on
Social Media
Stay current on upcoming events and youth related news!

Be sure to "Like" Episcopal Youth of Western Washington, our all-new FB page...

...Also Follow us on Instagram @ecwwyouth
Young Adults from Across the Diocese are Invited to:
A Re-Gifting Party at Diocesan House
Spread the word!... Young Adults (20's - 30's-ish) are invited to join Bishop Rickel after the New Year for a few good laughs and to dream about future events for young adults in 2019 including:

  • A spiritual film series
  • A Bible Study tailored to young adults
  • An on-line book discussion
  • An event that incorporates kombucha somehow
  • More "Nacho Theology"
  • Even more "Versed"
  • What else?!... (your ideas welcome!)

Be sure to bring a wrapped gift to exchange -- maybe something you received for Christmas that you believe someone else will enjoy a whole lot more?...

Join us on Thursday, January 3 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Diocesan House, 1551 10th Avenue, Seattle. We'll serve a light dinner. And fruitcake. Lots of fruitcake.

The Diocese will send out out e-vites to people who have previously attended YA group gatherings but are there people in your congregation you think would like to participate too? Send us their e-mail and we'll send them an e-vite:

Follow the Diocese Young Adult Facebook Page
Be sure to "Like" and encourage the Young Adults in your congregation to "Like" Episcopal Young Adults of Western Washington . Diocese-wide events and activities specifically tailored to bring young adults together as a faith community are listed here.
Notes from the Chalkboard at Iona:
Los Posadas
Last month we were talking about liturgical seasons, using Joan Chittister’s The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life , as a resource. The book alone provides many ideas for discussion — Chittister calls the liturgical year, “A journey of the soul through the map of Christian time”  and “an adventure in bringing Christian life to fullness…”

The idea of journey and adventure were further reflected as we discussed traditions in our congregations and homes that aid the journey. Several students from Mexico mentioned Las Posadas—which gained the interest of many who were unfamiliar with the tradition. It so happens that Forward Movement has a free, downloadable booklet (links below) explaining the tradition with ideas of how to incorporate it into your home or congregation, described here:

The Posadas (Spanish for "inns," "lodging," or "shelter") are an Advent candlelight procession and celebration. In Mexico and other countries, it is traditional to hold Posadas in many neighborhoods on the days preceding Christmas. The Posadas are a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a place where Jesus could be born. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst. (See Matthew 25:40 .)

This short guide provides practical suggestions for congregations that would like to hold an evening (or several evenings) of Posadas. It includes ideas for engaging neighbors and children, as well as suggestions for Latino-Anglo engagement. It features both English and Spanish versions of the Posadas song, on music sheets showing the melody and chords for guitar.

I encourage you to share adventure and hospitality as you journey to welcome Jesus into your midst.

-- Maureen Crawford
The Iona Olympia School provides a comprehensive academic and practical curriculum for those seeking ordination in the diaconate; for some seeking local ordination as priests and deacons; and for lay persons who feel called to such training.
Advent Play-List: Music for the Waiting
Looking for the perfect Advent music? Here are a couple of options courtesy of the December edition of "Lifelong Learning" , the e-newsletter of the Virginia Theological Seminary:

 The Way of Love for Children: Bless
> The Sparkhouse curriculum "Whirl" talks about blessings when it introduces the story of Jacob:

"Jacob tricked his father to receive a blessing that was meant for Esau..."

To further explore the "blessing" theme, the curriculum makes some excellent, original suggestions for children to practice the art of blessing, here are just a few:

Box of Blessings - Create a family blessing box.

Silent Blessing - Learn how to say "God bless you" in American Sign Language.

All God's Creatures - Take turns naming different ways our pets and other animals bless us.

> Our beloved, go-to website, Picture Book Theology , does not disappoint with this wonderful and holiday-perfect recommendation:

Oskar and the Eight Blessings , written by Richard & Tanya Simon, and illustrated by Mark Siegel.

Says PBT: "This is a beautiful story of a child who imm igrates alone into New York City on December 24, 1938. His parents have sent him to an aunt after the devastating Kristallnacht, when Nazis destroyed thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses and over 30,000 Jewish people were placed in concentration camps."

"December 24 is also significant because it is the last day of Hanukkah and it's Christmas Eve. As Oskar walks the 100 plus blocks of Broadway to the address of an aunt he doesn’t know, he encounters historical figures (First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and jazz musician Count Basie) and other anonymous strangers. All welcome and bless him in 8 various ways as he eventually makes his way to a loving aunt."
Christmas Pageant Lite:
A Little Humor Because You've Earned It!
Goodness knows, at this point your Christmas Pageant is moving along on its own wheels and now there's no stopping it. Why not take a pause and enjoy this unique rendition, narrated by children and acted by adults, from Southland Christian Church based in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Safe Church Training
Upcoming Trainings:

The Safeguarding training is of general interest to all, but is required of anyone who works with children and youth in the church, whether as teachers, helpers or nursery - all staff, clergy & vestry/bishop's committees as well. Five year certification on completion of each class.

All you need to know about Safeguarding God's Children & People can be found on the Diocese website , including up-to-date information on scheduled trainings including how to register for the on-line training option; how the Diocese can help you with background checks; and guidelines for compliance.

If you are planning to schedule a Safeguarding training at your church, please let us know so we can share the news on our website and in this newsletter. Contact: Tonja Mathews, Resource Associate with details.

Join us at our next

Children & Families Ministry
Leadership Meeting

~ Connect with your colleagues
~ Share ideas and best practices
~ Plan for the future

Wednesday, March 27
11:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Diocesan House
1551 10th Avenue E., Seattle
Lunch provided

Follow the Diocese Facebook Page
for Children & Families
Be sure to "Like" and follow our brand new page: Episcopal Children & Families of Western Washington . We encourage you to post questions and share your ideas in order to connect and strengthen our diocese-wide community.
Just Ask A Librarian...
By Sue Tait

Question:    This month we consider the spiritual practice of blessing. But, isn’t blessing what priests do? What does this mean?

Sue Says: Priests bless us in a liturgical context, you are exactly right. But our lives and values can be a blessing to others by sharing ourselves and what we love and value with others. The subtitle to this practice is: “share faith and unselfishly give and serve.” That is one way to think of evangelism and this section of the Way of Love has expanded my understanding. The books below are two of the ways.

Mary Parmer describes a program to attract and incorporate newcomers in her book, Invite, Welcome, Connect: Stories & Tools to Transform your Church (254.5 Par).  Both she and a variety of ordained and lay people tell stories of their experience with this method. For instance, a lay leader from Texas notes that these ways of attracting and connecting meet people’s need for belonging. This ministry is, as Michael Curry says in his introduction, “one way to move into the Jesus movement.”

In Unabashedly Episcopalian: Proclaiming the Good News of the Episcopal Church (283.73 Doy), Andrew Doyle speaks directly to “the newly baptized and confirmed, and those who long to recall those vows…” that is, to just about all of us. In his view, evangelism is the process of encouraging others so “that all may run the race closer to the kingdom of God.” In his view, we are “partners of Jesus” and our churches are “missionary outposts.” We naturally want to pass that blessing on to others. A Spanish edition of the book, Orgullosamente Episcopal , is also available in our Resource Center.
A Poem for the Journey:
Thanks & blessings be
to the Sun & the Earth
for this bread & this wine,
     this fruit, this meat, this salt,
          this food;
thanks be & blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
thanks & blessings to them
who share it
     (& also the absent & the dead).
Thanks & blessing to them who bring it
     (may they not want),
to them who plant & tend it,
harvest & gather it
(may they not want);
thanks & blessing to them who work
     & blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want—for their hunger
     sours the wine & robs
          the taste from the salt.
Thanks be for the sustenance & strength
for our dance & work of justice, of peace.

"Grace" b y Rafael Jesús González from  In Praise of Fertile Land: An Anthology of Poetry, Parable and Story,  edited by Claudia Mauro. © Whit Press, 2006.
The Faith Formation Team
Lower Res
Sarah Blanco
Faith Formation Team Member
Seattle Service Corps
Valerie Reinke
Canon for Faith Formation:
35 and Under
Denise Brumbaugh
Youth Ministry
Program Coordinator
Sue Tait
Director, Resource Center
Maureen Crawford
Director for Adult Faith Formation
Dean, Iona School

Faith Formation | The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | 206.325.4200 |