Greetings from the
Office of Christian Formation!
November 2019 - a publication of the Office of Christian Formation
Happy Thanksgiving!
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we also prepare for the busy season of Advent ahead. In this month of preparation, planning, and sometimes worry, we want to provide you a moment of gratitude and prayerful reflection, courtesy of a video poem of Walt Whitman's "Miracles." Please enjoy this at any time, and know we at the Office of Christian Formation are grateful for YOU!

(Thanks to Megan Nolde for making the video!)

the Office of Christian Formation
Reflections on PYM Sr High Weekend
There aren’t many places that you can find nearly one hundred teenagers playing silly group games, praising Jesus at the top of their lungs, and opening up to new friends about their faith. PYM Senior High Weekend 2019 was a place for all of that and more. The weekend flowed with lots of opportunities for conversation, music, and fellowship.

Terry Dolson from the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond led us through the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Over the course of her keynotes she retold the story from different perspectives and introduced mindfulness practices. She talked about the power of personal narrative and how the stories that we tell to one another can allow for deeper connection. Each small group time started with story sharing between pairs before the small group discussion.

Our workshops were varied and offered chances to engage with topics like body image and healthy relationships, as well as hands on workshops like dance and printmaking. I offered a workshop for those interested in joining the PYM committee and was pleased for the turnout of excited high schoolers. (More information for the application process will be made live in the new year).

There was such a feeling of ease and community over the weekend. There was light and joy and growth. I am proud of the youth of the PYM committee and their ability to adapt. I am continually grateful for the camaraderie of the adult leaders, volunteers and chaperones who step in whenever and wherever needed.

As we prepare our hearts for Advent, Christmas and the presence of Christ - light - with us, I am excited and hopeful for how PYM’s other weekends will share the theme Let There Be Light with the youth of our diocese.
Fourth & Fifth Graders Weekend -
April 17 - 19, 2020 (a new event!)
Sixth - Eighth
Graders Weekend -
May 8-10, 2020
Here's something we're chewing on, thinking about, listening to, and taking in this month:
For many, Thanksgiving and the month of November bring up a wide range of difficult emotions beyond a simple family meal filled with gratitude. For many, the United States' historical and current treatment of native and indigenous populations is difficult to reconcile with a joyful and thankful holiday.

In light of this, we offer a few resources for growth, acknowledgment, and support of those around you (or you, yourself) that experience Thanksgiving with these emotions in their hearts.

And as always, you're welcome to contact us at the information at the end of this email, or Aisha Huertas, Minister for Mission and Outreach at

Best -- Paris, Megan, & Sierra
An initial step toward growth is acknowledgment of past wrongs and honoring of sacred spaces for others. In this vein, we offer a link to the Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers' "Land Acknowledgement Resources" for honoring the land on which you meet, and the indigenous persons who first inhabited that land. It is, in fact, an indigenous protocol, whether or not indigenous individuals are present.

What would your Thanksgiving meal look like if you started off with land acknowledgement before or as part of your prayer at the table? Remember, though:

A land acknowledgment is not something you “just do” before an event. Rather it is a reflection process in which you build mindfulness and intention walking into whatever gathering you are having. It should be rooted in the whose land you are honoured to stand on and should guide how you move forward in both conversations and actions.
We also want to echo native voices regarding the history of Thanksgiving and what it means to many in native and indigenous communities.

How would your formation classroom sound if you echoed these voices in your teachings about Thanksgiving? How would your conversations around the dinner table sound if you did the same in your conversations there?
Episcopal Service Corps Applications Due!
Applications for 2020-2021 Episcopal Service Corps are now open!

What is Episcopal Service Corps?

Episcopal Service Corps is a network of young adults ages 21-32 serving through locally organized intentional communities that are dedicated to:
  • Serving others in solidarity
  • Promoting justice in community
  • Deepening spiritual awareness
  • Discerning vocation
  • Living simply

Everyone serving through ESC commits to a year of volunteer local service, as well as a household Rule of Life, regular spiritual direction, discernment and community practices. In return for volunteering, Corps members receive housing, health insurance, and small stipends to cover living expenses, transportation and food.

For many young adults, this year serves as an opportunity for vocational discernment broadly understood. Most of our participants move into positions of leadership within their local churches, the wider Episcopal Church, and community organizations.
Here's something we're chewing on, thinking about, listening to, and taking in this month:
Latimore is a self-taught iconographer who paints saints we recognize as well as others doing holy, transformational work throughout time and into the present. His icons are powerful, beautiful representations of God’s story and make us think of the Bible in different ways. I think he captures well his hope to create dialogues about his art and the stories the icons tell. I have purchased his 2020 calendar and I look forward to the conversations it will inspire when it hangs in my office!
- Sierra
Summer 2019 Camp Reunion!

Saturday, January 4, 2020
1:00 - 4:30pm

Epiphany Episcopal Church
3301 Hidden Meadow Dr.
Oak Hill, VA 20171
Shrine Mont Camps Sunday is February 9th, 2020!

More information coming soon-- in the mean time, make sure to get this on your parish's calendar and plan a celebration of Shrine Mont Camps!
Here's something we're chewing on, thinking about, listening to, and taking in this month:
As we look toward Thanksgiving, the first of the end of calendar year holidays, many of us prepare for joy, the gathering of loves ones, and reviving traditions and festivals of light and love. On my mind lately, however, has been the concept of loss at the holidays-- my own significant other is in the military and deployed this year at this season. The holidays will be still joyful for me, but it will be bittersweet knowing he isn't here with me. And this got me thinking-- how many of us, whether recent or longstanding, have a holiday tinged with loss? It might be loss through a death in the family (military or otherwise), loss of a relationship, a newly empty nest, or simply memories of loved ones not with us for a wide range of reasons.

My own holidays, from Thanksgiving through the new year, will be bittersweetly warm and comforting. I know my significant other will be experiencing them with less joy than I, and with less comfort and surrounding light. This too, is the source of a blue Christmas or Thanksgiving for many-- be they military overseas, or those among us with less to celebrate.

So I offer up a few resources on "Blue Christmas" services in the Episcopal Church, for formation planning and parish planning, and encourage you to consider holding such a service on December 21st of this year. As one writer in the attached articles says-- it's not the number of attendees that matter, it's how much it matters to who IS there.

And lastly, because my own heart is with a military member, I offer a resource on how to show appreciation for military members, families, and supporters at the holidays. For families and members of the military need your support too-- regardless of politics, these persons pledge their "lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" willingly on our behalf, and their families give of these as well to support their military loved ones. So let us reach out to and sit with the difficult feelings that the holidays can bring. And in those moments, be reassured that God is also present-- whether on the darkest night or the lightest, the night of the solstice or the night of Jesus' birth.
- Megan
Do you follow our Facebook page for the Office of Christian Formation? Well, you should!

Starting next week, we'll be posting links to recommended Advent resources (it IS the time to start planning already!), with mini-reviews and ideas!

Make sure to follow us at the button here -- we can't wait to share with you!

AND-- we have advent resources on our website already at the following link:

Here's something we're chewing on, thinking about, listening to, and taking in this month:
This month, I’m excited to share (or remind you of) a worship resource that I’ve been using and loving this month. “Daily Prayer for all Seasons” is a small and simple book of worship published in 2014 by the Episcopal Church. For each of the church seasons (plus Holy Week) there is a set of eight daily prayer options. The liturgy is simple, beautiful and accessible for groups who are “deeply Episcopalian” as well as groups that are not. The language is inclusive and expansive, and the services include poetry and reflections as well as meditations. It also includes information around how the services are formatted, how to use them, as well as a brief introduction to each season of the Church year. In the true Episcopal tradition, this book allows worship to be formation for those who wish.

I’ve used the services at Board meetings, with staff groups, and with a group of youth. If you are someone who is tasked with planning simple liturgies for groups, or just looking for an enhancement on your own personal prayer practices, I encourage you to add this to your toolbox!

You can purchase the book (it’s small and paperbound, so easy to transport) or access the entire thing online for free.
  - Paris
The Staff of the Office of Christian Formation!
Paris Ball, Minister of Christian Formation & Director of Camping Ministry

Megan Nolde, Christian Formation & Camping Ministry Associate

Sierra Gore, Christian Formation & Camping Ministry Assistant