Formation Ministry around the Episcopal Church

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of representing our region at a joint network meeting of the Council for Lifelong Christian Formation and the Youth Ministers Network.  These networks support the ministries of the staff officers of the Episcopal Church Center who focus on formation ministries across the Episcopal Church.  While there, I learned of several new resources, especially around supporting and equipping congregations doing mission trips and/or pilgrimages with youth.  I especially commend to you the new Episcopal Youth in Mission manual.  Another new resource for pilgrimage is Inspiring Mission, an organization created by Episcopal youth leaders, offering both support for planning trips, as well as offering spots on pilgrimages that are planned for you.  For 2015 they are offering two pilgrimages focused on healing and reconciliation - one to Auschwitz, Poland, focusing on the Holocaust, and one in North Carolina, following the Freedom Ride trail. We've waited a long time for resources in this area with a uniquely Episcopal perspective - I hope you find them as exciting as I do!

These new offerings are just part of the work of the Formation offices at the Episcopal Church Center, which is funded through General Convention.  These offices also produce large events, such as Episcopal Youth Event, the Official Youth Presence at General Convention. and the Children's Program for General Convention.  They produce print curricular materials, such as "Marked for Mission: youth in action," "Lesson Plans that Work," and materials for specific interest groups such as families of those serving in the armed forces, Spanish-language curriculum for Province 9, resources for working with older adults and more.

As part of this meeting, we reviewed the proposed Triennial Budget, which will be voted on at General Convention in Salt Lake City this summer. (Youth from our diocese will be traveling to GC - look for more information on this pilgrimage in this newsletter!)  The prelimary budget is presented by the Executive Council, and was released earlier this month.  A couple of things I would like to note:  the budget lines for formation ministry events, such as EYE have been drastically reduced.  The notation indicates that EYE is funded, but actually reduces the funding for EYE by about $200,000, the amount necessary for the work that takes place in the year prior to EYE (reserving spaces, planning meetings, etc.).  The Children's Program for General Convention (2018), though mandated by General Convention action in 2006, has no budget allocation at all.  In good news, Forma, the professional associate for people working in formation ministries, for the first time, is allocated a grant.

Executive Council would like feedback on this draft budget. They typically get very little comment from those of us doing ministry with children and youth.   You can view the preliminary budget and comment on it here.

Cindy Spencer
Coordinator for Ministries to Children and Families
Faith Formation Hub, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia