From the 2019 Ministry Narrative
This year we continue to explore new ways to live into our commitment of education for members of all ages. With respect to our younger members, our educational wing, even though modest in size, with its adjoining space outside, continues to serve as one of the nicest facilities in the diocese for Christian Education and the spiritual formation of children and youth.
All Saints’ uses the program, Godly Play, which is under the supervision of our Christian Formation and Youth Minister, Cynthia Benkelman, who is assisted by our nursery attendant, Erin Wilson. Godly Play is a fun and stimulating way to teach our children Bible stories and general information about the way the Church is a central part of our lives. This program takes place within the context of Children’s Chapel, during the first part of both services, in which the children participate in and lead worship geared towards people their own ages. Children’s Chapel also prepares them for full participation in Holy Communion when they return to the service in church at the offertory.
Children and youth have additional means by which they can learn about our faith through participating in events ranging from the Christmas pageant to being part of a youth group (thus learning how the faith can speak to society). They can better appreciate our liturgical life and absorb the meaning of the Eucharist by taking an active role as ministers at the altar. As well, two of our youth often play the piano during communion and one of those has actually served as the musician for a Requiem Eucharist. That is an amazing ministry for those still in grade school.
All our activities are designed to help our young people focus on Christian education and spiritual formation, community building and fellowship which enables these youth to enter a new sense of ministry informed by their baptismal covenant. When our regular schedule of services and activities does not fit into school or extra curricular activities, we include our young people by thinking outside the box; by having an after school Ash Wednesday service in a home for kids who can’t attend the noon service, or by scheduling youth groups and other gatherings on Sunday evenings, which is often the only free night our young people have in common.
In the fall, we had a retreat for the youth of our church, during which we explored our spiritual gifts and how they relate to fulfilling our baptismal covenant. This retreat also served as preparation for several youth who chose to be confirmed at our bishop's visitation.
Much of our Adult Education is associated with our Soup Suppers, which cover a variety of themes and topics. Over the years, we have focused on four areas of stewardship as points of departure—Stewardship of Self, Stewardship of the Body of Christ or the Energy of the Parish, Stewardship of the Environment, and Stewardship of our Financial Resources. Some years we do more in some areas and less in others but this is a basic framework for much of our education. It is over and above those subjects that we add special programs.
This last year, for the sixth year in a row, we did something during Lent which has taken our community by storm; we joined parishes around the country in “Lent Madness.” For five Wednesday night gatherings, we examined the lives of thirty-two saints, finally settling on one to wear the “Golden Halo.” We will do that again this Lent, opening up the fun and hospitality to the community at large.
All Saints’ Church also utilizes technology and the wonders of cyberspace for Christian Education. With the installation of a smart television in Memorial Hall we are able to “call up” special videos provided by the wider church as well as show our locally produced videos.
Last year every Wednesday morning, prior to the Holy Eucharist, we gathered at The Springs in Whitefish for Bible Study. We were delighted that several of their residents are now regular participants.
During the fall, winter, and spring, we have a regular “brown bag lunch” book study each Thursday afternoon following the Noon service. This year’s feature book was Bishop Jake Owensby’s book, Your Untold Story – Tales of a Child of God. Bishop Owensby is the Bishop of the Diocese of Western Louisiana.
In the area of educating people on Stewardship and Becoming a Welcoming Church, our Rector Emeritus visited several parishes in the Diocese leading them in educational symposiums. He also teaches canon law at the Diocesan School for Deacons.