Loading...

Follow Building Faith | Christian Website on Faith on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

For the past 2 years, we have done what we call our Local Mission Trip for those in 6th grade and younger in place of a more traditional VBS. The kids love it and they get the message that we are helping others here at home.

In place of a more traditional VBS, we created a Local Mission Trip for our children 6th grade and younger. While they are not ready for an overnight service experience, this week prepares them for those future trip, and valuable right now.
The kids love it and they get the message that we are helping others here at home. Using a parable or parts of the Sermon on the Mount to frame the day’s activity, we have sorted food at our local food pantry, picked up trash on the greenway, worked weeding the community garden, and visited a nursing home where everyone played games and sang songs with our organist.

The Seed of an Idea

After four years of creating a cycle of Vacation Bible Schools that reflected our Sunday Godly Play experience, my senior warden came to me with an idea. Her oldest was in 5th grade and she didn’t feel he was ready to go off as a rising 6th grader for a youth mission trip away from home. She suggested we do a different kind of Bible School centered on a Local Mission Trip for those in 3rd through 6th grade here in our town. We called it The Summer of Service and we planned it for those in 3rd and above.

Year One

The first year it was a way to include our elementary children in a “mission trip” and help them begin to see what happens on the trips our youth took. We limited that first year to 3rd grade through 6th grade with several middle and high schoolers who worked with us as part of their community service. The first year we did not include any younger children. Basing our week together on the Good Samaritan, we met Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. After a gathering with the day’s scripture and a “wondering session”, we spent each morning at a local service project. We returned to the church for a time to “debrief and wonder” and for lunch, supplied by members of the parish. Everyone then participated in a planned afternoon “fun” activity with pick up there at 3:00 pm.

The first year our 24 young people and adults:

  • went to the local cooperative ministry food pantry on Monday and Tuesday and sorted a huge pile of donated foods from the May Postal Food Drive that the pantry people hadn’t gotten around to being able to sort. We had about 24 young people and several adults. We gathered at the church at 9:00 am and were at the pantry from 9:30 to 11:30.
  • On Wednesday (a very hot southern day) we weeded in the Rotary’s Community Garden which is down the street from our uptown church.
  • Thursday we worked with the young people who attend a summer camp program for children with serious disabilities that meets in our parish each summer.  The kids played games and did crafts with the children during their activity time and helped with an art project.
  • In the afternoons we bowled, went swimming at a local swim club, and watched a movie at the church the afternoon after working in the garden in the heat, and again with the Kamp kids on Thursday.

Year Two

The second year, we added a component for the 4 year-old through 2nd graders. They stayed at the church with a more traditional VBS format. We found this youngest group in our parish missed out on vacation Bible learning so we read them the parable for the day and they did something each day to support what was being done by the big kids off-site. Our group was very young and loved to color and do word searches and maze type sheets. They played outside and sang with our organist.

That second year our focus was a variety of parables and we again did two days at the food pantry (they had the same pile of food from the food drive!), picked up trash on our local Greenway, and visited a nursing home where a group played bingo, a group sang songs, and a group cleaned out and organized a closet.

The younger group at the church bagged 9-bean dry soup mix to go to the food pantry on Monday and decorated placemats for the nursing home on Tuesday. We picked up the trash in the block around our parish while the others were on the greenway and were part of the singers at the nursing home on Thursday. After lunch most of the younger children went home, unless they had a parent or older sibling who went to the activity. We included roller skating and putt-putt with the bowling and swimming this second year.

Year Three

  • Local Mission Week and Vacation Bible School, 3rd year – Made in the Image of God
  • Service projects that help children, our city & the parish.
  • God’s Creation, packed 1000 dental kits for upcoming Backpack Weekend Food Program…Roller Skating
  • “Do Unto Others” – Golden Rule in all religions. Youngers looked at 10 Commandments and wondered about an 11th; Older group made 50 Cloud Windows for the Keep Gaston Beautiful program, to be used in schools this fall….bowling
  • “Do for the least of these” 75 cards that the Deacon will use to keep connected those who are unable to join us for worship…laser tag
  • For our parish community in preparation for Homecoming Sunday – even helped prepare our lunchtime feast — pool party

Our Local Missions Trips have been very successful. It has been easy to find local groups that will let a our young people–with adult supervision come–serve for a couple of hours. Older teenagers looking for community service and parents to help drive and supervise are important.

Polly Redd is the Director of Christian Formation and Communication at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gastonia, NC. She has been active in formation in the Dioceses of Western North Carolina and North Carolina and is a former Board member of Forma: The Network for Christian Formation.


The post VBS Summer of Service appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

we want to celebrate mothers and fathers, and yet, we recognize that for some these days can be painful and difficult

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just around the corner. As the church, we want to celebrate mothers and fathers, to help them know how important their ministry of parenthood is to our community. And yet, in our celebrations, we often unknowingly alienate a portion of our community. There are those among us who do not or did not have nurturing, loving parents. There are those for whom neither “mother” nor “father” captures their gender identity as they raise children. There are those who struggle with infertility and those who made the decision to abort a pregnancy.

We have people in our congregations who will never have a biological child and yet they play a crucial role in the Body of Christ. Our ministry is with each and every one of these and we are grateful for the ways that they love and nurture our children. Let us be intentional in expressing this gratitude. Here are a few of our suggestions. Please share your own in the comments.

Be Intentional in Prayer

Taking time to choose or write prayers in advance helps us to be sure we are thoughtful in our language.

  • A Mother’s Day Prayer” by Magrey deVega – This prayer thanks mothers and prays for them to receive wisdom and the honor that they deserve, while also lifting up “motherly figures,” including neighbors, friends, and others. It also notes the sorrow, loneliness, and tensions that Mother’s Day brings about for some.
  • Faithful Celebrations: Family and Friends: Making Time with Family and Friends, Sharon Ely Pearson, Ed. includes both a litany for Mother’s Day and one for Father’s day that might be helpful – These litanies are clear in celebrating those “who have been like mothers/fathers to us.” They also speak to those who have experienced loss of a child or father.
  • Prayer “For the Care of Children”in the Book of Common Prayer – This prayer applies to the whole family of God, as we are all blessed “with the joy and care of children” and it is appropriate for all of us to pray for “calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up.”

Affirm the Diversity of Families Through Crafts

In Sunday school classes and beyond, we can affirm the diversity of families even as we create space for children to make a gift for a loved one who parents them. Explain to children the spectrum of parenthood and how there are many who parent us who did not give birth to us. Provide examples (teachers, church members, friends, etc.) and note that we can celebrate all those who parent us on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

The language and explanation of what we are doing and for whom is more important than what exactly we make. Allow space in your supply count to accommodate needs for two or three items per child. This will vary based on child and family.

  • Collages – Use images and words from magazines that remind the maker of their parent or nurturer or let families know in advance and request photos of the individual(s) to be honored that can be cut and pasted into the project. (See “Father’s Day Collages” in Faithful Celebrations)
  • Pipe Cleaner Flower – Make flowers using pipe cleaners and tissue paper as suggested in Faithful Celebrations – This resource provides multiple ideas for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We suggest helping children to make a few of the flowers so they have one or two to give to someone of their choosing and one to give to someone who might not have someone else making one for them on this occasion.
  • Mother’s Day Craft: Make Potpourri Baskets” – These baskets are fun for all to receive. They could be made available for all in the congregation who choose to receive one, or children could choose a specific person to honor with their gift.

Modify Your Message

No resource is perfect, but there is a lot you can do to modify your celebration to be sensitive and widely inclusive.

  • Consider changing language from “mothering” or “fathering” to “parenting,” emphasizing appreciate for all parents and all who care for us.  
  • Invite everyone to brunch, lunch, or tea – All can participate in a gathering to celebrate those who parent us. Be clear that the “Mother’s Day Brunch” is a celebration of all those who parent us to be sure that all feel welcome.
  • Draw on books that celebrate diverse views of family. Try this bibliography of Books about Adoption from our friends at Storypath or this list of 11 Books about Modern Families from parenting.com.

The Rev. Katherine A. Malloy is the Associate for Lifelong Learning, Director of Christian Formation Resources

Image: Jeffrey Vallance, Divine Mother Hen, 2018 Stained glass, metal, wood.

The post Prayers for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Inspired by Kari Ann Lessner at the Diocese of Texas Cathedral, I offered a book discussion and activity before the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time was released in 2017. In 2018 we showed four movies on Friday nights during the summer. In 2019 we’ll offer 3 Books and Movies in Pajamas.

Click the image for a full-size PDF version Why “Books and Movies in Pajamas”?

Two reasons:

  1. It seems cozy to imagine people reading books in their pajamas, alone or as a bed-time ritual with a parent
  2. It’s fun to come to church in pajamas, then at the end of the Movie Night it’s easy to go home and jump into bed.
How it Works

I chose the books for the first summer myself. I asked a couple moms help me choose books for summer 2019. They recommended so many I have my list for 2020 all set! After the success of the first summer, I started planning immediately, so I could have lots of time to buy books CHEAPLY. At church, I put out copies of the books for families to borrow to take home and read. In Texas we have a chain of used book stores called ½ Price Books, so I slowly stock up on copies, one or two at a time, each time I visit the store & they happen to have what I want. Amazon sells used books, too.

Families come if they’ve read the book or not. My primary goal is to build community.

People bring snacks to share, and there are always lots of snacks. I usually bring a snack that goes along with the book. For Charlotte’s Web, I offered gummy spiders. For James and Giant Peach, I made peach jello.

St Cuthbert’s Facebook page helps to advertise right up to start time.
Things Known…

I do have a sheet for families to sign out their book in order to take it home. However, I purposefully NEVER follow up to see if a book has been brought back.  The sign-out sheet makes it seem legit to take a book from church. I’m happy if I get a few of the books back, that means there are good books in people’s homes!

I plan and advertise what topics we’ll be discussing.

  • Sometimes it’s a Bible verse, as it was for Charlotte’s Web: We discussed how 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 “God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong. And God chooses what the world think is not important.” applied to the story.
  • Some evenings we discuss themes. This summer after we read and watch Louis Sacher’s Holes, we’ll talk about sacrifice and redemption.
…and Unknown

I discovered there is a lady in my parish who loves to go to garage sales. She was delighted to be asked to snatch up copies of books.

I discovered there is a Mom who is excellent at leading the discussion at the end of the Movie Night. Bonus, I’ve now got her in the Children’s Chapel ministry!

I was very happy with attendance last summer. We packed the Youth Room to the rafters! I moved to a bigger room once, but moved back for the next evening, It felt better to be together like one big family gathered around a TV.

Gail Jackins grew up in Northern Maine, so her friends refer to her as a Mainiac. She has a B.S. from the University of Maine at Orono and an M.Ed from Boston College. Gail is the Family Minister at St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

The post Books and Movies…in Pajamas! appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Building Faith | Christian Website on Fa.. by Eric Grubb And Sarah Bentley Allred - 1M ago

“Consider taking time this Easter season to sit with this mystery, to feel the discomfort of uncertainty and to rest in God’s great love which is, in the fullness of time, making all things new.”

While many churches do not offer formal Christian education programs such as Sunday School or the Adult Forum on Easter Day, it is important to take time during the season of Easter to reflect on the Resurrection. Whether you are planning an adult Easter series, newsletter for families, or Easter prayer stations for youth, here are three teaching points to consider.

Easter is The Great Mystery of Our Tradition

Sound obvious, but it is worth reminding ourselves on a regular basis that Easter is a mystery. We cannot fully understand how Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Or how the heavy stone was rolled away from the tomb. Nor can we fully comprehend  it means our own lives (and deaths), that the Son of God overcame death on the cross.

We live in a society eager for certainty, scientific explanations, and clear answers. In such a world, to believe in the mystery of Easter, to have faith in something we cannot fully understand, is not only counter-cultural, it is a small rebellion! Believing the mystery, realigns us. It is an orientation of awe and wonder, of trust in God, of hope in everlasting love.

Consider taking time this Easter season to sit with this mystery, to feel the discomfort of uncertainty and to rest in God’s great love which is, in the fullness of time, making all things new.

Resurrection Does Not Negate Suffering

If we are not careful, the story of Easter can sound like a simple story of triumph: suffering plus time leads to overcoming. We have many examples of such stories today from books and movies to the way we talk about our own lives. But the story of Jesus is complex. Jesus undergoes great suffering and dies. Three days later the tomb is empty, but the risen Jesus carries the marks of his suffering. Not only does the risen Christ carry the wounds of his crucifixion on his hands and feet and side, it is through these wounds that he is known to his disciple Thomas (John 20:24-29).

What does it mean for our life after that, that Jesus carries that signs of his suffering through death and into eternal life? Could eternal life hold healing and restoration without entirely forgetting the suffering that shaped our lives? As we joyfully celebrate the risen Christ in churches throughout the world his Easter season, it is worth remembering that we cannot separate the Jesus’s resurrection from his suffering and death.

Easter, A New Beginning

The incredible narrative of Jesus’s resurrection we tell at Easter can sometimes sound like we have given a neat and tidy ending to a challenging story. But Easter is not the end of the story, it is a new beginning.

The story that unfolds after the resurrection, from the Ascension to Pentecost and beyond, is equally compelling. In the mystery of the Ascension, we celebrate Christ returning to God the Father and at Pentecost we celebrate Christ sending us his Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. The narrative of Christ’s resurrection is still unfolding, 2000 years later, for we all receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, which leads us deeper into the knowledge and love of God.

This Easter season may we take time to consider our part in the resurrection story, our lives in light of the Risen Christ.

Sarah Bentley Allred is an MDiv. student at Virginia Theological Seminary. Previously, Sarah served for four years as Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point, North Carolina. She loves local coffee shops, board games, the beach, and exploring new places with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Grace.

Eric Grubb is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary from the Diocese of North Carolina. After graduation in May, he will begin his ordained ministry at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Waxhaw, North Carolina. 

The post Three Teaching Points for Easter appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As you work to envision new ways of inviting people to enter into Holy Week, here are three teaching points to spark your imagination.

Holy Week is the busiest time of the liturgical year. Beginning Palm Sunday and continuing with daily services through the Great Vigil of Easter the following Saturday evening, Easter Sunday is the last of a very full week of services, each with a different perspective and feeling. Many churches struggle each year to help their congregations fully remember the sacred story enacted during Holy Week. As you work to envision new ways of inviting people to enter into Holy Week, here are three teaching points to spark your imagination.

Egeria & the Liturgies of Holy Week

In the fourth century, a Spanish nun named Egeria made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Egeria found herself in Jerusalem in the week before Easter, where she observed the Holy Week practices of the early church. Egeria kept a diary detailing many elements of the liturgies she took part in. The middle section of this diary was discovered in the late 1800s and became a primary source of material for the Holy Week liturgies that are still used today.

For example, Egeria describes a Palm Sunday procession from the top of the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem with people waving palms as they walked. Consider sharing with your congregation where the liturgies of Holy Week originated. You might even have people read small sections of Egeria’s diary and compare the 4th-century practices to the liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer. An English translation of Egeria’s diary can be found in Diary of a Pilgrimage (Ancient Christian Writers).

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, & the Easter Vigil Belong Together

While many Christians approach the liturgies of Holy Week “buffet style,” picking and choosing the liturgies they like and/or fit into their schedules, the liturgies of Holy Week are inextricably linked. This is particularly true of the liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter. Taken together, these three liturgies are called the Triduum. They are, in fact, one liturgy that takes place over three days.

In his book Holy Things, Gordon Lathrop argues that each liturgy of the Triduum carries meaning, but new meaning is generated when these liturgies are taken as a whole, in juxtaposition. In the experience of foot washing next to bread and wine, next to new fire and scripture – more layers of the Paschal Mystery emerge. Consider teaching about the Triduum before Holy Week. Invite your congregation to attend all three services, paying special attention to the Triduum as a whole.

Good Friday & the Gospel of John

Recently, someone sent me an interview of Episcopal Priest Barbara Brown Taylor related to her recent book, Holy Envy. I was surprised to hear Taylor say it’s been years since she attended a Good Friday service. She goes on to explain that as her interfaith work deepened, she found it difficult to hear the text from the Good Friday readings from the Gospel of John, scripture which has been used by some Christian for millennia that “the Jews” killed Jesus.

This Holy Week, consider how your congregation will remember together that Jesus was killed because his message and actions of radical love were a threat to an empire. You might consider reminding your congregation of this ancient, wrong interpretation in your Good Friday bulletin,  such as this blurb written by Rev. Mary Luti, published on Huff Post (please give credit):

As Christians, we live under the burden of a sad and violent history of anti-Semitism, in the sobering shadow of the Shoah (Holocaust). It is critical for us to be clear about what our sacred texts mean when they make reference to “the Jews,” especially during Holy Week, when we contemplate Jesus’ death. When the crucifixion narratives speak of “the chief priests and leaders of the people,” they are referring to officials who collaborated closely with the Roman systems of oppression, and were viewed with contempt by much of the Jewish community in their time. They should not be identified with the Jewish people of the past as a whole, and certainly not with Jews in the present. It may be helpful to recall the cultural context of our Christian scriptures, emerging as they did from a small, originally Jewish community of believers in Jesus as the Messiah. All of the Gospels originated from Jewish communities. Jesus himself was born, lived, and was crucified, a Jew. Any criticism of Jews from Gospel writers should be understood as the expression of differences of opinion among or about their fellow Jews. The gospels’ use of the term “the Jews” therefore, should not be read as a criticism of the Jewish religion, and especially not as a condemnation of an entire people, either then, or now. It is one of the bitter ironies of history that our sacred texts have been used to justify the persecution of the covenant people, from whom our Savior came, and who are created, as we all are, in the precious image of God.

Sarah Bentley Allred is an MDiv. student at Virginia Theological Seminary. Previously, Sarah served for four years as Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point, North Carolina. She loves local coffee shops, board games, the beach, and exploring new places with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Grace.

Eric Grubb is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary from the Diocese of North Carolina. After graduation in May, he will begin his ordained ministry at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Waxhaw, North Carolina. 

 

The post Three Teaching Points for Holy Week appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Join us on Wednesday, April 10th at 3:00 pm Eastern for a robust conversation about how to make the church a welcoming place for people of all ages, stages, and abilities. From welcoming people who are living with dementia to special needs children and their families, our presenters, Dorothy Linthicum and Roger Hutchison, will offer theological grounding and practical ideas for helping our congregations better reflect the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

Click here to register on Zoom and be sure to check back here following the webinar for the recording, slides, and resources.

About the Presenters

Dorothy Linthicum is an adjunct instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), who has studied and taught courses and workshops about older adult spirituality and ministry at the seminary, conferences, dioceses, and churches. Her study led her to write with co-author Janice Hicks Redeeming Dementia (Church Publishing, 2018), which looks at dementia through the lens of spirituality, theology, and science. She is also a catechist for the VTS Baptized for Life initiative in Arkansas exploring camp experiences for adults.

Author and Artist Roger Hutchison is the Director of Christian Formation and Parish Life at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, and the author of four books including My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. He had the privilege of painting with children who had experienced the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. This affected him profoundly and convinced him of a vocation to use his writing and art to serve those who grieve. Roger currently serves on the Forma Board and is a member of the National Association of Grieving Children.

The post Webinar: A House of Prayer for All People appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“Easter eggs are a sign of new life and of Christ’s resurrection. The joy of Easter is a reminder of the joy we have now and always through Christ’s death and resurrection.” Milestones Moment Egg Blessing

Decorating Easter eggs and having an Easter egg hunt has been a fun tradition at this time of year for many a family gathering. Recognizing God in this moment gives us a chance to tell the story of the resurrection. Identifying rituals and traditions we have throughout the church year and embracing them as an opportunity to involve all ages in an intergenerational setting is a way to pass our faith from one generation to the next.

Hosting a Blessed Egg Hunt

church-organized Easter egg hunt is not new, neither is hosting an egg hunt at one’s home or at a community park. Combining the Christian message in a home organized Easter egg hunt is a simple and effective way of celebrating the message of Christ’s resurrection with family, friends, and neighbors.

Coloring eggs, hiding and finding them, blessing them, and giving them to others is an opportunity for outreach. This activity can be hosted in a home or a local park.

  • Invite all ages to participate in the coloring of the eggs.
  • While coloring the eggs, talk about memories of Easter egg hunts and how Easter eggs remind us of the Easter story.
  • After the eggs are colored, take time to tell the Easter story using a children’s Bible or by using Resurrection Eggs. These eggs provide a wonderful hands-on way to involve all the ages in the telling of the story.
  • Offer coloring pages, story books, or story cubes to keep younger children occupied.
  • Have an egg hunt for the younger children. Hide plastic eggs with a piece of candy and a Bible verse inside each egg.
  • After the egg hunt, gather to bless the colored eggs and say a prayer. Then invite the adults and the children to help place a colored egg, a plastic egg, and some candy in small bags. Tie a decorative ribbon around the bag.
  • Invite parents, grandparents, children, and others to take one or two bags and deliver them to either a person who is homebound, a local senior residence, or a neighbor.
Easter Egg Blessing in the Home

The Easter Egg Blessing Milestone Moment can be downloaded and placed in a gallon size plastic bag along with an egg coloring kit. Make these bags available for families to do this activity in their home with family and friends. As a follow-up, ask them to take pictures and share the stories about how this was done in their home and place stories and pictures on Facebook pages and in the newsletter.

~photos courtesy First Presbyterian, Cumberland, Maryland

As Co-Director at Milestones Ministry Debbie Streicher has helped congregations across the country develop faith formation programs for all ages in the congregational setting for almost 30 years. Her background is in teaching language. Coupled with her passion for family ministry, Debbie uses her knowledge and experience learned from teaching foreign languages to help parents, grandparents, and other adults understand the importance of daily immersion in the language of faith. Debbie’s vision is to involve all ages in faith formation, strengthen family relationships through Spiritual growth, and empower God-given gifts to do ministry.

The post Blessing of the Easter Eggs appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“When adults share stories of self-reflection, seeking forgiveness, and naming how we could have done better show that brokenness is part of being human and that grace is real.”

These tools were designed for use in a residential camp setting. They can be easily adapted for use in youth group and retreat settings.

Trauma:

Sudden or sustained change experience that leaves us in a new reality.

Adolescence:

A period of physical, emotional, and social change between childhood and adulthood.

These two definitions are very similar. Youth are not just being dramatic – adolescence is traumatic. In addition, many youth have or will experience trauma, which means they are now dealing with two at the same time. Here are 5 things we can do to support them through this volatile time.

Balance Heavy Emotional Experience With Physical Movement

We know that emotions are powerful and can trigger traumatic memories. Other camp moments speak directly to stresses and problems campers face at home, bring them face to face with strong feelings they expected to leave at home. In response to fears or powerful emotions, our instincts often kick in and lead to three common responses: fight, flight, and freeze. Flight and fight are easily understood. We face the problem with aggression or run away from the issue. The third option comes from those who feel helpless. Freeze is something we are familiar with in deer or opossum, but also visible in people who quit trying to make things better or emotionally shut down. Physical movement is a great way to take trauma energy and redirect it. This can be an active game, or simply taking a walk. Sometimes the walk is more important than any conversation you might have.

Affirm Responses That Might Be Considered Negative

Fight, flight and freeze are natural responses. Powerful emotions are a natural response. Asking questions is a natural response. Even desires for revenge are a natural human response. If we can name the natural and normal nature of these experience, we keep young people from creating a “no one would understand” narrative in their mind. If we can name these as normal, youth can be assured that they are not alone and that others have chosen not to act negatively in response. They also have that choice – that power.

Flip the Questions

In issues of blame or unfairness, help campers look at the bigger picture. When they want to know why something bad happened to them, ask the question, “Why not?” Nothing in scripture promises us a life of protection. Quite the opposite. God’s people have always been promised a spirit of comfort in the midst of struggle rather than protection from it. When campers ask why someone hurt them, or “Why me?”, flip the question and ask, “Why them?” Explore what led to that person’s behavior. That starts with self-reflection, seeing where we might be personally accountable, then looking at the offending party’s life and what might have hurt them. What is going on in that person that leads them to act out? What are they seeking through their behavior?

Celebrate Rituals That Give Meaning

How we remember things matters. For a memory to be stored in a healthy way, it requires logic and emotion. Through rituals of remembrance, we allow powerful emotions to be claimed and we attach healthy, logical narratives that include the realities of an event, even if it is tragic. Memorials around gun violence should have statistics and personal story. A coming of age ritual should include who the youth has been and affirm them for who they have become. Memorials that reenact violence or celebrate it tend to retraumatize and should be avoided, this is the difference can be seen in reenacting a Civil War battle and looking into the reflective wall of the Vietnam Memorial.

Testimony of Responsibility

Trust is important with children and youth, and some adults are afraid of looking broken or irresponsible in front of them. Young people want to trust adults, but for a variety of reasons, it just not that easy. Sharing personal stories that include accountability and what we learned are a powerful. Self-reflection, seeking forgiveness, and naming how we could have done better set a good example for young people, but do even more. These actions show that a responsible adult is not without fault, but aware of their own limits. These actions show that brokenness is part of being human and that grace is real.

Rev. Lee Yates is a pastor, advocate, and writer with years of experience in faith formation. He consults with local congregations and edits the InsideOut Camp Curriculum. In addition, Lee leads workshops in trauma-informed care, intergenerational faith formation, and a variety of topics around diversity and personal identity.

The post Trauma-Informed Tools for Youth Camping Ministry appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

“Once I understood [them] to be traumatized…I saw them as they really were – loving, hurting, gifted, fearful, seeking, blessed people of God. For my ministry, and for my own family, that has made a world of difference.”

Understanding Trauma’s Affect  on our Faith Formation Practices

Everyone has a different gauge of trauma. Grounding your response in the understanding that trauma is a noun that describes an individual’s experience is of paramount importance. Each individual is the arbiter of their own experience and description of trauma.

Trauma affects us all, directly or indirectly. Many people live with the ongoing effects of past and present overwhelming stress. Despite the large numbers of people affected, many of us often don’t think of the possibility that someone we meet, speak with or support may have experienced trauma. This makes us less likely to recognize it. Keeping the possibility of trauma on our radar means keeping the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of people who may be trauma survivors in mind. It means being respectful, acknowledging and understanding¹. As community members and agents of reconciliation and redemption, faith leaders must proceed from a place of acknowledging and understanding trauma-informed formation².

Trauma and Adolescence

As a youth minister, sharing “highs and lows” was a sacred ritual in our after-school program. Everyone— youth and adults—shared the best and worst thing they had experienced since the last time we were together. As trust was built, the honesty increased, and we heard some powerful stories. I started thinking about how much of what was shared was “typical” adolescence and how much was events outside the control of our teens. As a youth minister, and a one-time teenager it dawned on me that the answer is both: the definition of trauma and description of adolescence are basically the same.

Based on my experience and current literature, my own definition of trauma is “a sudden or sustained change experience that leaves us in a new reality.”

Adolescence was a much more recognizable concept. We know these years to be an age of physical, emotional, and social transformation. We know adolescence is filled with internal and external factors that leave us in a new reality. We know that, like trauma, adolescence is not something we can avoid or control. Both bring about a change that is beyond our control that and that occurs, often, without our consent.

How could I use this sudden clarity of understanding the shared experience of all teenagers, those who have experienced external trauma and those who have not?

Trauma Study with Youth 

Shortly after, I started a trauma study with the students in our after-school program. We walked through physical responses to trauma and learned about flight, fight, and freeze responses. We discussed instinct, emotional, and logical responses and how our bodies take action. We talked about emotional responses and repression. We learned how memories work, how we tell the story of events that happen to us, and how those tend to create a “good vs evil” narrative.

The next step was to discuss how our personal narrative leads us to lash out or push back against others out of self-protection. I expected it to be a difficult conversation. Surprisingly, it was not. Everyone could clearly see how we often hurt others out of fear, assumptions, or emotional dysfunction. The group made the jump easily, seeing how offenders start as victims and often hold onto that identity, refusing to see the harm they had done.

The application lessons came quickly through stories from each person’s life. Tension with parents, arguments with best friends, fights with strangers, and even experiments with drugs and alcohol were expertly dissected by 6-8th graders.

We were a group full of discoveries:

“Ah, some of the fights with my parents are my fault!”

“Oh, my parents are hurting from things that happened to them!”

“My friend’s family impacts the way they treat me.”

“My grandpa isn’t coming back, and it’s not my fault.”

All the Difference in the World

I had always had good programs at my Church, but once I started treating youth and their families as victims of trauma, something changed. I became more of a pastor than a programmer and youth learned to care for each other in new ways. Once I understood youth and their families to be traumatized, I stopped looking at them as slacking parents and uncommitted youth and saw them as they really were – loving, hurting, gifted, fearful, seeking, blessed people of God. For my ministry, and for my own family, that has made a world of difference.

  1. This definition comes from the Australian Blue Knot Foundation.
  2. For additional information on becoming a trauma-informed congregation, see Interfaith Community Services excellent pdf resource.

Rev. Lee Yates is a pastor, advocate, and writer with years of experience in faith formation. He consults with local congregations and edits the InsideOut Camp Curriculum. In addition, Lee leads workshops in trauma-informed care, intergenerational faith formation, and a variety of topics around diversity and personal identity.

The post Trauma and Youth appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

‘Maundy’ comes from the word mandate, as it is at the Last Supper that Jesus tells his followers, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13: 34-35).

Maundy Thursday is the entrance into Good Friday, Holy Saturday, the Vigil and Easter Day. There is a lot of action and meaning. We remember Jesus’ Last Supper with his friends, when he gives them (and us) the new commandment to love one another—we live out Jesus’ call to love one another in our daily actions, and we recall the Last Supper when we celebrate the Eucharist. Maundy Thursday is also when, in act love and service, Jesus washed the feet of his followers. After eating, Jesus goes to pray in the garden of Gethsemene, where he is arrested.

Sharing a Meal, Sharing the Love of God

To move through these remembrances, some congregations host an agape meal. The meal itself is simple, foods that reflect the middle eastern tradition of 1st century Jerusalem or a potluck, and served to the gathered community all at once. Often, John 13-17 is read aloud, and occasionally a foot washing is included during this time. The gathered community then moves into the sanctuary where the service concludes with the stripping of the altar and the congregation departing in silence.

The Maundy Thursday agape meal is a wonderful opportunity for communal fellowship and family worship. But it can be a challenge for those of us, young or old, who can’t sit for long and who need to learn by doing.

Activity Cards

We used these activity cards to help engage the children during our agape meal. We had about 80 people, with only about 10 children. Children, parents and non-family adults enjoyed asking and answering questions. Everyone learned something about the symbolic pieces of Maundy Thursday and Holy Week. Most importantly, the cards provided a way for the congregation to interact across generations.

Cards were printed on cardstock (you could also laminate them) and connected with an O-ring. There was one activity deck for each child.

Kat Mercer has more than thirty years’ experience in faith formation leadership. She has worked with programs for children, youth, families and adults at the congregational, diocesan and provincial level, and is an enthusiastic advocate for intergenerational formation and supporting families in faith formation at home. Currently, Kat serves as Chaplain at St. Luke’s Nursing Center, a ministry of Grace Episcopal Church in Carthage, MO, where she incorporates Godly Play into her ministry and provides consultation and support in children’s ministry for congregations.

The post Maundy Thursday Agape Meal Activity appeared first on Building Faith.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview