The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | November 2019
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.

Dancing Lessons
It turns out that Gertrud Mueller Nelson , who spoke at Saint Mark’s Cathedral earlier this month, is the best kind of prophet: wise and insightful with a mind that spins metaphor and seeks out the universal. She also has a great sense of humor.

Like the prophets of old, she doesn't steer away from hard truths. She believes that “we’ve lost the early, easy relationship we once had with God... We’ve made it complicated.” To step back into the dance, she urges us to follow the example of children who have a very natural relationship to the divine. They will help us find “our lost orientation to the sacred.”

It's easy to lose that orientation, especially this time of year, ironically. Gertrud warns that the secular world knows our “desire for one-ness, wholeness,” and is able to feed it with “consumerism and other addictions” that deaden and block us from meaning.

The church can be an antidote. GMN explains that “our job is to discover the poetry and beauty beneath the organized church,” with rituals that “embrace both good and bad” to help people “capture the transcendent.”

Her timeless book, To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration is full of ideas on how to deepen and enhance the experience of ritual. (You can find dog-eared copies on many a church shelf and the Diocesan Resource Center has at least 2 copies to lend.)

Many of these rituals are mentioned in this newsletter -- pageants, advent wreaths, Las Posadas, Jesse Trees, a winter solstice liturgy, labyrinth walks... All are designed to enliven our faith so we can resume our dance with God, right where we left off.
-- Valerie Reinke
Best Practices:
"Seasons of Prayer"
Between-the-Services Faith Formation
By The Rev. Nic Mather
 St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Longview

“Seasons of Prayer” is an intergenerational formation event held on the first Sunday of the month, immediately following the principal service.

It includes a parish potluck that's open to all, and a program (some Sundays are combined intergenerational activities, some Sundays are age-separate but related activities).

As the theme suggests, we are hoping to expose all ages to expressions of prayer in our daily lives, and to provide participants with tools and resources to better connect with God through our prayer.

Since we started we've seen increased attendance and participation in formation activities, and an increased sense of fellowship and community among parishioners.
Best Practices:
Christmas Sensory Worship Offered in the U District
Rector Shelly Fayette and Children & Youth Director Heidi Hansen will host a "Christmas Sensory Worship" at Christ Church, Seattle, t o welcome families of children with sensory differences/special needs. Families are invited to celebrate the Savior’s birth in a warm, accessible, kid-friendly worship space. A variety of seating options and sensory tools will be available for children to use.

The Christmas Sensory Service will be held, Sunday, December 15 at 1:00 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, Seattle Corner of 47th and Brooklyn in the University District.

You're Invited:
Children & Families Ministry Leadership Lunch Meeting
Whatever your role in Children's Ministry -- staff, volunteer, clergy, advisor -- you are invited to join a dynamic group of practitioners from around the diocese for our regular quarterly meeting:
Wednesday, December 4
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Diocesan House, 1551 10th Ave. E., Seattle
Complimentary lunch & travel expenses covered

This time, let's get into the Christmas spirit, just before the season ramps up. We'll enjoy a festive holiday lunch, share what we've been up to, look to the new year, and sign-up for a special end-of-the-year gift of your choice to bolster your Sunday curriculum.
Children & Families Leadership Meeting participants in September. These meetings are full of new ideas, collaboration, commiseration, and resources!
Picture Book of the Season
Home by Another Way:
A Christmas Story
By Barbara Brown Taylor, Illustrated by Melanie Cataldo

Summary: Three men, in three different countries, see a star. Not sure if the star is above them or imagined, they only know that "something was calling them...something was missing."

They find the babe with that same star shining in his eye and fall down to worship, offering their gifts. To say thanks, Mary hands over Jesus for all to hold.

The next day, the stars are gone, but the three don't need them anymore. These wise wanderers leave transformed, their old maps no longer useful. They have been gifted by the presence of Emmanuel and a new way home. 

Picture Book Theology says: "The illustrations and words in this well-known story are very human and humorous... To have the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, a popular preacher and spiritual writer for adults, in picture book form is a treat."
Safe Church Training: You Can Be the Trainer
Become a Safe Church Trainer -- an option for clergy, staff and volunteers who have taken the training and feel comfortable facilitating it. "Mentor Trainers" are available to assist you in this process, contact to request a mentor trainer.

Host a Training -- If you are planning to schedule a Safeguarding training at your church, please let us know with this simple on-line form so we can share the news on the Diocesan website.
Youth at Diocesan Convention
Advent Ideas & Resources for Youth Groups
Curated by Denise Brumbaugh

Christmas for Real Activity - Donkeys? Are you sure? Take a look at the truth behind the myths of Christmas.
Advent Conspiracy - What if we were to celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously? Check out this powerful movement to make Christmas meaningful (again!):
Prepare Ye: Labyrinths in Advent
With Advent right around the corner, now is a great time to quiet heart and mind in the midst of all the busyness and commercialism of the season.

Once again, we are excited to offer the use of a canvas labyrinth (pictured) if you are able to pick it up and return it to the Diocesan house. It is about 22' square. Use it as a basis for a youth Advent activity or with any other group in your parish.
E-mail  Denise Brumbaugh  to request it. 
And here are some labyrinth-related links that might be helpful for incorporating this ancient practice:

Episcopal Youth Event
Join Hundreds of Other Episcopal Teens in
Washington D.C. this Summer!
Your teens are invited to an international youth event that only happens every 3 years: "Episcopal Youth Event" or "EYE" where over a thousand youth gather for celebration, worship, learning and leadership development. In July 2020, EYE will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park, near Washington DC and the theme is “Unite! ¡Unámonos!”

New this year, you will have two ways to attend:
  • You can choose to go as your own youth group with your own chaperones and organization; or,
  • Your youth can join a delegation from throughout our diocese and register as a group through the bishop’s office with diocesan coordination.

If you choose to join the Diocesan youth delegation, the dates will be July 5 - 11 which includes travel time and one day of sightseeing in D.C. Cost will be about $900. One-third scholarships will be available from the diocese (with an additional 1/3 from local parish) and a fundraising opportunity will be presented to help offset the remaining costs. Application/registration will be out in January 2020. Here's more background information:

Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage 2020: It's On!
Sunday, August 2 - Saturday, August 8

"Home is behind, the world ahead,
and there are many paths to tread..."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, LOtR
Save these Dates!
  • NOVEMBER. Fall Middle School Retreat 11/23-24 @ Epiphany in Seattle
  • FEBRUARY. Winter High School Retreat 2/28-3/1 @ Black Diamond Camp in Auburn
  • MARCH. Better Together Day of Faith Formation, 3/7@ St Margaret’s Bellevue - for Youth Ministry Leaders
  • MAY. Spring Middle School Retreat, Diocesan House, 5/16-17
  • JUNE. Connect (A retreat for adults involved in youth ministry) 6/12-14 @ St. Andrew’s House
  • JUNE. Launch for Graduating Seniors, Saturday, June 20 (tentative)
  • JULY. EYE (Episcopal Youth Event) July 5 - 11 - held in partnership with Washington National Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
  • JULY. Six-Day, Youth Summer Camp, July 19 - 25
  • AUGUST. Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage, August 2 - 8
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 Facebook page... Also Follow us on Instagram @ecwwyouth

Sunday, December 22
St. Luke Episcopal Church
99 Wells Ave S.
Renton, WA 98057

Would you like to carpool? E-mail Evening Episcopalians at
Interested in bringing food for the YA dinner?
Light for the Darkest Night:
Seasonal Liturgy and
20s & 30s Dinner Conversation
5:30 p.m. - YA Dinner
Young adults (20s & 30s) throughout the diocese are invited to a pre-liturgy dinner conversation sponsored by Evening Episcopalians , a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. Expect a delicious meal and conversation with St. Luke’s rector, The Rev. Kevin Pearson, about the vision and ideas behind St. Luke’s seasonal liturgies.
7:00 p.m. - Yule: Light for the Darkest Night
Celebrate the winter solstice with a new type of church service. Through music and poetry, ritual and movement, we’ll acknowledge the beauty of the natural world and the interweave of the seasons with our own spiritual lives. All are welcome here.
8:00 p.m. - Afterglow
All are invited to linger after the liturgy for beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and bar snacks.
Young Adult Happenings
In the Greater Seattle Area ~ All Are Welcome
Questioning Together  - Monday, December 2nd (first Mondays of the month, year-round) – A supportive group that discusses questions of faith and meaning over dinner. Saint Mark's Cathedral, Capitol Hill - 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. and follow on Facebook .

Advent Party - ALL are invited to St. Paul, Seattle's annual Advent Party, Saturday, December 7, 5-7 p.m. This year’s event will benefit Chaplains on the Harbor  and  Harbor Roots . Come to learn more about these unique ministries, eat good food & drink, and enjoy live music with  Ethan Anderson . This is a family friendly event! Activities for children of all ages will be available as well as childcare for our littlest ones. RSVP or donate ahead of time  here .

Evening Episcopalians  – Curious about the traditions, histories and flavors of other churches in our diocese? Let’s check out the evening services at different parishes in the Seattle area, and maybe go for dinner/drinks afterward. On December 22, 5:30 p.m., we'll visit St. Luke's for their winter solstice service, "Yule" (see the article, above). Get on the meet-up e-mail list: and follow us on Facebook .

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 .
Just Ask A Librarian...
By Sue Tait

QUESTION: Yikes! Advent is almost upon us, and I’m more than usually clueless about what to do this year, both at home and at church. I also want to provide adults with alternatives to the spending and consuming spree that these weeks can become. Any suggestions?

SUE SAYS: There are certainly a wealth of resources available, both for families and in a church school setting. One that I can recommend is part of a series edited by Sharon Ely Pearson.

The series is called Faithful Celebrations and various volumes have been mentioned here before, but the one most applicable now is Making Time for God from Advent through Epiphany (263 Fai Advent). It includes community celebrations for the whole season. The idea behind this entire series is that formation happens best when several generations learn together.

In these pages you will find a brief introduction to each season or festival, and then lots of ideas: Advent wreaths, Jesse Tree booklets and ornaments (“symbols of Jesse and other men and women of the Old Testament who prepared the way for Jesus”), as well as suggestions for creating gift wrap, banners, Advent calendars, and more.

This book and others in the series provide a cornucopia of ideas, and often include days of celebration that are harder to find, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Las Posadas. You can locate the series by searching our online catalog and typing “faithful celebrations” in the search bar.
Some Simple Things to Pray for During Advent
By Martin E. Marty
  • Pray for attentiveness to what truly matters, without being distracted by trivial things.
  • Pray for opportunities to learn something new regularly.
  • Pray for the grace to be able to rest, become aware of God’s presence, and enjoy it.
  • Pray for strong relationships with other people in the bond of a loving community.
  • Pray for peace in all situations, no matter what the circumstances.
  • Pray for an enlivened imagination that helps you contribute to the world in creative ways.
  • Pray for freedom from all that burdens you – past mistakes, fears, destructive habits, hurts other people have inflicted, and more.
  • Pray for joy and a sense of humor.
  • Pray for confidence in God’s love for you and trust in God's power to work things out for the best in your life.
  • Pray for a clear mind and the ability to clearly communicate what you value to others.
  • Pray for openness so you can grow as a person and encounter God more fully.
  • Pray for a genuine awareness of God’s grace in your life and the humility to extend grace to others.
  • Pray for a passion to pursue justice.

Denise Brumbaugh
Youth Ministry
Program Coordinator
Sue Tait
Director, Resource Center
Grace La Torra
Director for Adult Faith Formation
Dean, Iona School
Aemelia Tripp
Seattle Service Corps
Faith Formation & Communications
2019 - 2020
Valerie Reinke
Canon for Faith Formation:
35 and Under
Faith Formation | The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | 206.325.4200 |