VBS and Summer Camp Curriculum Top Picks for 2024
Building Faith
by BuildFaith Editors
1d ago
Building Faith’s 2024 Vacation Bible School and summer camp curriculum reviews are in! We have evaluated 10 new curricula for this year and found a variety of fun and fruitful options for VBS and camp programs. If your community is preparing for summer VBS, camp, or intergenerational formation opportunities, these reviews can help you get started in discerning which curriculum may best meet your community’s needs and goals. Our Review Process This year we invited a team of five ministry leaders to conduct the reviews. The team primarily examined publishers’ website content, sample materials t ..read more
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A Shame-freeing Lent: Stories & Practices for Liberating Lenten Formation
Building Faith
by Jodi Belcher (she/her/hers)
2w ago
In a 2016 article called “On Ash Wednesday, The Power of Scripture,” one of my editor predecessors, Charlotte Hand Greeson, lifts up the opening line of the Ash Wednesday collect as a meaningful testament to God’s love: “You despise nothing you have made.” I appreciate her theological insight about this prayer because she underscores the importance of grounding our understanding of sin and repentance in God’s unconditional love. Yet I find the very appearance of this phrase in The Book of Common Prayer heartbreaking. That Christians before us—and probably among us today—would need to hear tha ..read more
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Leading with Love: Ministry Lessons from Hospital Chaplaincy
Building Faith
by Mary Farr (she/her/hers)
1M ago
Years ago, before my ordination to the diaconate, I chose hospital chaplaincy as my call to servant ministry. Specifically, I chose to engage in love’s work in real people’s lives. Three foundational experiences shaped this call. Discerning a Call to Chaplaincy The first formative experience that shaped my call to hospital chaplaincy was an early introduction through the Episcopal Church to the International Order of Saint Luke the Physician. This healing ministry of clergy and laity is based on the belief that Holy Scriptures set forth healing as a continuing and essential part of the minist ..read more
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Away with the Mangers: A Direct Action Campaign to Transform People and Politics
Building Faith
by Brandon Wrencher (he/him/his)
1M ago
What if Advent were less about which songs to sing which weeks and more about using our resources to ensure that all people are housed? In the dominant theological imagination, including popular songs like “Away in a Manger,” Advent has been divorced from the grim reality of Jesus’ birth and the demands that this reality makes upon us today. Jesus comes from a colonized people. He and his family were refugees fleeing a repressive government at the time of his birth. The makeshift shelter in which the holy family settled and the manger which held the Christ child represent toxic charity and s ..read more
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How Churches Can Become Places of Healing
Building Faith
by Cindy Lee (she/her/hers)
1M ago
These days in a world of ongoing communal crises, I find myself asking different questions of my own spirituality as well as our communal faith tradition. My questions about education in the church are no longer about formation or discipleship, but I am asking: How does our communal healing and restoration happen? Longing for More Meaningful Community There is an unprecedented opportunity for the church in our times. In my role as an advisor for D.Min. students, many of whom serve as full-time clergy, I’ve been hearing a common theme. Since the pandemic, clergy are struggling with noticeably ..read more
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Chalking the Door: An Epiphany Tradition
Building Faith
by BuildFaith Editors
3M ago
“Chalking the Door” is a short liturgy for marking our homes with sacred symbols and asking God’s blessing upon those who live, work, or visit throughout the coming year. In this service, we mark our front or main entrance doors with chalk as a sign that we are inviting God’s presence into the places, relationships, and situations that we call home. This practice resonates with God’s instructions to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 6. In verses 4 – 9, Moses says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sou ..read more
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Ways to Use AdventWord
Building Faith
by Miriam Willard McKenney (she/her/hers)
3M ago
’Tis the season for gift-giving guides and black Friday sales that started a month ago. As active disciples in faith communities, we prepare ourselves and each other for the greatest gift: Jesus. Many of us grew up with Advent calendars to measure the days leading up to Christmas. I remember my parents buying glittery calendars and hanging them on the wall in our kitchen. I had to take turns with my brothers opening the doors. Those secular calendars rarely started on the actual first day of Advent, so there were usually not enough days for all of Advent — or, in this year’s case, too many. E ..read more
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Christmas Pageants from Two Points of View
Building Faith
by Jodi Belcher (she/her/hers)
3M ago
I (Jodi) have a confession to make: I don’t like Christmas pageants. It’s not just the significant planning that they can require. It’s not even just the stress that they can bring on for children, youth, parents, and organizers at an already busy time of year. My biggest issue is that they can compromise church efforts to affirm children and youth as full members of the body of Christ by expecting them to perform for an audience in a church service. As well-meaning as pageants might be, they can unintentionally end up instrumentalizing children and youth. In Favor of the (Thoughtfully Prepar ..read more
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“Behold, I Am Doing a New Thing!”: The Radically Hybrid 2024 Forma Conference
Building Faith
by Sarah Bentley Allred (she/her/hers)
3M ago
Editor’s Note: This article is in a forthcoming issue of VTS Magazine. Some of its content is also published on the Forma website. It is republished here with minor formatting and grammatical changes to fit our editorial style. FormaA Ministry of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary is the Network for Christian Formation for the Episcopal Church and beyond. One of Forma’s flagship offerings is an annual conference held each January. A Little Backstory I grew up in a small Episcopal church in southwestern Virginia. Our youth Sunday School class, which included everyone ..read more
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Disability Is Not a Dirty Word
Building Faith
by Allison Bird Treacy (she/her/hers)
3M ago
It inevitably happens a few times a year. A priest gets up to tackle a healing text or a passage full of demons, and now they are faced with a challenge. Is that story really about demons, or is it time to consider a psychiatric disability or a neurological condition like epilepsy? What is the significance of Jesus healing the blind man? How do we talk about these stories without harming our disabled community members? Faced with stories that feature apparent disability, many people will tie themselves up in knots. They search for other words — “differently abled,” “special needs” — because s ..read more
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