The 1979 Book of Common Prayer frames Christian community with Baptism and Eucharist—from “font” to “table.”
Holy Baptism is “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The rite we practice in the Episcopal Church for this sacrament includes the “Baptismal Covenant,” through which those who are baptized promise to continue in the sacramental life of the Church and live in such a way as to advance social transformation (striving for justice and peace and respecting the dignity of all people). The life initiated at that baptismal font is then nurtured and deepened at the Eucharistic table. The Holy Eucharist empowers us for the work God calls us to do in the world.
Christian education and formation are vital aspects of this Baptismal and Eucharistic life. “Formation,” however, does not lead to “cookie cutter” conformity. Instead, and as biblical writers describe it, we are being “knit together” as members of the Body of Christ, each with unique gifts (Ephesian 4:16) as we take on the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:1-5). This work of formation is always directed toward transformation, by the “renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2).
Christian formation remains vital in a world where we are being formed every day, whether we are aware of it or not, by constant advertising, a barrage of images in both print media and digital platforms like Facebook, and so much more. Resisting those relentless forces of cultural formation requires equally powerful religious formation in Christian faith, hope, and love. All Saints’ Parish enjoys a variety of educational programs, from Bible study and book groups to art exhibits, field trips, and intensive discussion groups (to name just a few modes). The following are illustrative samples of the ongoing work of education and formation in this parish:
Font and Table: An Introduction to the Episcopal Church and Christian Spiritual Practice
This short course of three sessions is designed especially for newcomers to the Episcopal Church but anyone can benefit from this overview of Anglican Christianity. These sessions are informed by our initiation into the Body of Christ at the Baptismal font and how the Eucharistic table nurtures that life in Christ.
The Rector’s Forum
Occasional gatherings between the Sunday morning worship services offer opportunities to engage in conversation with the Rector about timely topics in current events, liturgical worship in the congregation, outreach to the wider community, and much more.
God calls us as Christian people to notice and name how racial dynamics shape our lives, to work for justice, and to facilitate a process of healing and reconciliation; in the words of the Baptismal Covenant, to “strive for justice and peace among all people.” But to do this work respectfully and effectively we need to do our “homework” and understand better the roots of systemic racism in this country and the ways it manifests in our institutions and social interactions. “Sacred Ground” is a multi-media dialogue series developed by the Episcopal Church on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. “Dialogue circles” form at least once a year for this program of shared learning and shared commitment toward dismantling systemic racism.
Crossroad of Healing: Building a Community of Social Justice with the Visual Arts and Spirituality
Key moments of encounter occur when we seek to address the world’s pain and suffering. Crucial intersections appear most vibrantly at those moments when race, class, gender, and sexuality all unmistakably collide in the wider world of economic and ecological challenges.
These are the “crossroads of healing,” places and moments when communities can choose to name their wounds and seek new life. The world’s religious traditions and spiritual practices emerge from those potent intersections with insights and tools to guide us toward thriving. Christian communities have especially appreciated the image of a cross at intersectional moments. Rather than just one meaning, the cross of Christ carries many modes of interpretation in Christian traditions, including the reassuring hope of divine healing for the wounds of separation, isolation, and the violence of oppression. “Crossroads of Healing” is the broad rubric for a range of gatherings, initiatives, and explorations this parish hosts where we are invited to name the hurt, identify the fractures, and imagine a world transformed by love toward a community of care.
Children and Young Adults
We are committed to providing opportunities to introduce young people to the biblical stories of God’s love and Christian traditions of spiritual practice suitable for all ages. As our congregation continues to grow we look forward to welcoming more children among us.
Education and Formation Contact: Fr. Jay Johnson – email@example.com – 616-294-7030 (mobile) – 269-857-5201 (parish office)
Children’s Christian Education Contact: Carol Schock – firstname.lastname@example.org – 269-857-5201 (parish office)