Recently, I was asked about how the two ministries that we provide to our Children and our Youth work in concert. What do we provide? How do we build from one level to the next? Do we use age-appropriate curricula? How do our children and youth have a personal connection and relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Children’s and Youth Christian Formation at St. Alban’s Parish follows a progression of development starting in Pre-Kindergarten. Common throughout each level is a reinforcement of God’s love for us all. The adult Catechists exemplify this with our children in the early years of formation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, as do the Adult mentors who lead our Rite 13, J2A and Sr. Youth Groups. Many undertake additional training and learning in preparation for their time in the classroom.
The program starts with the Montessori-based Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program which introduces children to biblical stories, concepts of God and faith, our relationship to God as Christians, and the liturgy and practices of The Episcopal Church. Children learn about and grow in their faith through reading passages of Holy Scripture, recounting the stories they see and hear presented by the Catechists, and through their own self-guided work.
New to St. Alban’s this past year, the re:Form curriculum serves as a bridge between the experiential and tactile learning that came before and the increasingly conversation-based curricula of our Youth Formation program. Through the use of humorous and informative animated lessons, group work, conversation and the ever-popular “Anti-Workbook,” the children learn and think about some of the basic questions of Christianity such as, “Why and how did we end up with the books of the Bible we have?” and, “Was Jesus REALLY God, or not?” Many of the questions and topics are ones that will be carried with them through adulthood.
Our Youth Formation program continues the emphasis started in re:Form on discussion of personal faith and how as Christians we live our faith. Rite 13 helps to mark the transition from being a “child” to taking the first steps down the road that leads to adulthood. The curriculum covers many topics that focus on not only the young person’s development as a beloved child of God, but as a human being. These conversations and topics continue into the J2A class where discussions focus on living one’s Christian faith. Theories of Christian ethics and more in-depth conversations about how faith informs our lives are covered. The Senior Youth Group discusses in even greater depth the issues of the day and how, as Christians we can allow our faith to inform and govern how we interact with the world. The topics covered prepare one for confirmation at the end of each year in May.
The programs, at St. Alban’s, are designed to nurture, challenge, inform, and enliven the children and youth of our parish. At every stage children and youth engage with Holy Scripture and are encouraged to develop an individual relationship with God through the strong heritage and traditions of The Episcopal Church.
Currently we have a need for two adults to be Rite 13 mentors, one Sr. Youth Group mentor, and as many as six assistant catechists for our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program–all of which will resume in September. Pray about it. If you feel so called to help form, transform, mentor and lead the children and youth of our parish, I would love to speak with you about these opportunities.
I remain yours in Christ,
Thank you Matthew for this clear and thoughtful overview of our ministries for St. Alban’s children and youth – grateful to you and all those involved our programs for young people – not only for the great work you do but also for the great love you share!