Hello Faith Formation Community,

I hope all of you are staying safe and well. As I sat down to assemble this update, I began sifting through all the parts. I realized the school year, liturgical year, and calendar year are all marching on, almost like "ready or not, here I come!" To be honest, there are points in my days and weeks I feel all the parts are laid out ready to be put together, but I've lost the directions. I have no idea to where to start. In my mind, I know what the finished product is supposed to look like, but this year it seems like there are parts that just don't fit. Maybe you are feeling this way too?

In the most recent Diocesan Formation Leaders Gathering (we have them monthly - details below) I asked both groups, "What's one thing you've had to let go in your ministry during the pandemic? What's one thing you've seen grow, unexpectedly?" The answers to the first question were similar for many, planning calendars and long term planning. The answers to the the second were amazing! A demonstration that sometimes you have to be creative with the parts you've got. Even if you are missing some you can still create something wonderful. And I think there is no better way to see God in the midst of this pandemic and in our lives in a normal time, though when is that???

God really does give us all the parts we need to do God's work in the world. Often we aren't looking at them the right way, or maybe we can't find the right tools! God never leaves us alone. Recently, leading a class on how we "learn" scripture, I was asked what story I leaned on most in the Bible. It wasn't much for me to think of the call of Moses (Exodus 3). First and foremost, this story reminds me that God calls imperfect people - which means that God can call me. Second, God didn't leave Moses out alone, even when Moses protests (and who among us hasn't done that?) God sends Moses's brother to help (Exodus 4). God provides the people and the parts for us to do the ministry God calls us too, but we do have to be open. So, what parts of scripture do you lean on? Where do you hear God giving you the parts and pieces you need?

There are SO many moving parts this time of year. Halloween, All Saints, Thanksgiving, Advent, & Christmas. WHEW. All of these will happen whether we have everything all lined up or not. Recently on FaceBook Becca Stevens posted this. We are juggling lots of things right now. As I try to process this time of year and especially in THIS year, I know I have lost some parts. Even if you don't have all them ready to assemble, God is still moving. God is still providing all the parts we need to share God's love for the world where ever we are.

God's Peace,

Program Officer for Youth, College Campus and Young Adult Ministries
Halloween, All Saints & Thanksgiving
It is not too late to begin this prayer practice at home or modify for use in your parish. There are still plenty of pumpkins out there
This resource from Church Publishing is worth sharing again. It includes a great history of the both the religious and pagan roots of these holidays and observances. It includes an excellent book list as well. There are activities list in the article as well, but keep in mind some may not be safe under current guidelines due to the Pandemic.
This is an excellent idea as it can be done outside and is interesting for all ages. This time of year is a great time to look around your church graveyard if you have one. It's a chance to learn some history about your parish, who might be buried there and why.

Though a secular resource, it has good ideas and a free PDF of a scavenger hunt you can download. Be mindful of social distancing and masking guideline as well as ensuring you have permission to be on the grounds if it not your church yard.

Using social media as a platform for formation, this resource is available for purchase based on congregation size from Vibrant Church Communications. Designed for use in November, it is meant to help facilitate conversations about gratitude among parishioners of all ages. All files are digital so you can distribute and print as needed.

This beautifully illustrated book written for children, but is not just for children. Daneen Akers does a wonderful job telling the stories of people we know from the past who worked faithfully along with many who are working hard today. This book is inclusive, sharing stories of people of all colors, those in the LGBTQ community, along with those from differing faith backgrounds.

From Forward Movement, this curriculum is actually a year long study of twenty-six of the monks, missionaries, prophets, doctors, evangelists and more who are named saints in The Episcopal Church's calendar. Equipping youth and adults to follow Jesus. There is also a corresponding Children's curriculum, making this an ideal offering for parishes who like to provide intergenerational offerings.

This resource is from the Christian Reformed Church which has an emphasis on nurturing faith formation. This is part of a 12 part series on Faith Practices and would be good for use during November leading up to Thanksgiving. It includes an outline for download and links to other helpful resources on gratitude.

As the sun sets earlier and earlier, the evening prayer practice outlined in this post on Building Faith uses the children's book Candlewalk: A Bedtime Prayer to God to help families engage in a regular nighttime prayer routine.
Advent & Christmas

From the SALT project, this Advent devotional explores all the names we have for Jesus and all the ways in which Jesus calls us by name. This weekly devotional is for in home family use and follows Sunday Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love. These Advent Devotionals are available for purchase and download. You can purchase as an individual or by congregation size.
The SALT project also has customizable video resources available for your parish Advent too.

Check out all the resources available in their Advent Round Up!
Sold as a bundle of 10 resources or pieces can be purchased a la carte, this Advent, Christmas & Epiphany resources for use with the Revised Common Lectionary in Year B. "These resources are for the dreamers in all of us—those who dream of a deeper connection with God and those who dream of a better world." Pieces include worship materials, a printable daily devotional, curated art collection, sermon ideas on the topic and more. Created by A Sanctified Art.

This post comes from Reformed Worship and highlights a variety of resources for using a Jesse Tree as part of your parish or personal Advent preparation. A Jesse Tree is a daily practice of scripture readings that trace the linage of Jesus. Using images as ornaments on a small tree, the tree fills as the days grow closer to Christmas Day.

A resource from the publisher of My Faith My Life, these are three sets of four cards each - a set for children, a set for youth, and a set for adults. They are free for download all containing a front and back, prayer with action for each week of Advent.

From Traci Smith, a leading professional in Christian Formation offers "faith practices for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and anyone who cares about kids will find easy, fun, and meaningful ideas for bringing the sacred back into the season."

This 7 week series for Adults from Church Next is a way to re-energize your congregations focus on Advent. The course can be taken as individuals or as a group, be sure you purchase the correct curriculum. Includes all the resources you will need to facilitate this class.
Christmas Pageants
Not sure what to do about your Christmas Pageant this year? Chances are many parishes are working on new and different ways to engage everyone in the story of Jesus' birth. Ultimately that is what is most important about the Pageant the re-telling of the this amazing story. Here are just a few ideas that take into account COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Los Posadas What is this celebration? It is one our friends involved in Spanish Language ministries and cultures celebrate during Advent. This POST from The Episcopal Church provides a basic explanation. It could be used as way to engage households in your parish the retelling of the nativity story.

Nativity Scavenger Hunt - This idea could be easily modified and sent to folks at home to do on their own. It could include coloring pages

In conjunction with Episcopal Relief & Development's grassroots fundraising effort to improve the lives of children up to age 6, ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE encourages parishes and individuals to engage in their own acts of love. Resources and Zoomless curriculum can be found HERE and HERE.
Though officially launched on September 16th, this partnership between ChurchNext (Forward Movement) and FORMA. It is intergenerational Bible based curriculum offered for FREE. This platform provides for engagement with others around the Episcopal Church, not just in your own parish.

Content and lessons are available for 3 months and includes lesson plans through December 20th. To see a list of lesson titles, click HERE.

Whether studying on your own or in a group, this Bible offers reasonable sections to read followed by prompts: Reflect, Pray, and Act. It also includes an excellent introduction to the practice of Lectio Divina for those who are unfamiliar with this method of Scripture Study. An excellent resource for youth and adults.

This children's book just released on September 30th by Jennifer Grant helps children process grief using Psalm 56:8. This book does not provide answers but does hold space for children who are grieving and serves as a resources for the adults who are on the journey with them.
October 11th • November 1st • November 11th
Join with young people around the diocese to talk about your Mental Wellness and Health. Ask your questions and get answers from a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been her career working with children, youth and young adults.

•A Three Part series
• 7:00 - 8:30 PM
• For 6th - 12th graders and their adult youth leaders
• You do not have to attend all 3 sessions, though that is recommended

Registration is required to assign small/breakout groups by Middle School, High School, and Adults
Saturday, October 24th
• 9:30 AM until 12:30 PM
Registration Deadline is October 15, 2020
As we emerge from COVID-19, we will all be different. We will be somewhat like a caterpillar that has been transformed into a butterfly. We hope you have found something about this time at a different pace transformative in your own life. Happening will emerge as well and we want you to be part of that process. Our hope is to have Happening in the Spring of 2021. We want to take time this fall, in the same way a caterpillar spends inside a chrysalis, preparing to spread our wings and fly in the Spring.

This event is only open to those who have been a Candidate at least once at a Happening. Our hope is that Happening will be open for new Candidates in the Spring of 2021.

Saturday, November 7th
• Zooms from 10:00 AM until 12:30 PM & 7:00 PM until 8:45 PM

Who: 6th - 12 graders & their Youth Leaders
This Event will combine. what has traditionally been Sr. High Fall Break and Fall Conference for Middle Schoolers for 2020

Cost: $35 which covers supplies, t-shirt and the cost mailing them to you. (Some scholarship funds are available, please be in touch with Emily Gowdy Canady for more information)

Registration is REQUIRED for all youth and adults

• Registration Deadline is OCTOBER 14th
• This is to ensure you will receive your t-shirt and other program materials ahead of time! You'll need these to fully participate!
Christian Formation Offering/Sharing

During this time we have all learned to do things differently in our parishes and in our lives. From the information gathered at Formation Leader Gatherings, we would like to begin to compile a list of offerings that would be available to the wider diocese.

Is your parish offering an online formation opportunity you would be willing to have members from other parishes join with you? If yes, please complete this FORM.
The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina | 252-522-0885 | www.diocese-eastcarolina.org