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APCE presents awards, engages in holy humor worship

Educators set to meet in Louisville in 2018

March 26, 2017

On the final full day of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) annual event meeting in Denver, participants attended a sampling of more than 60 workshops, participated in a holy humor worship service and honored fellow educators for excellence in their work and careers.

Guiding the annual event theme of “God with Us in the Chaos,” the Rev. Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks, director of spiritual formation at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, led a workshop titled “Using Art to Help Children, Youth and Adults BE STILL.”

“The focus of the workshop is to center in, not necessarily being totally quiet, but [exploring] what it means to be still and transformed by creating,” she said. “Being able to see beauty in the midst of chaos—and recognizing that you can create beauty in the midst of chaos—can be a big help to others. When we create, we make space for others to do the same thing.”

Holly Albrecht, interim director of family life at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Maryland, and the Rev. Nick Cheek, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sumter, South Carolina, facilitated a workshop titled “Youth Ministry—Keeping It Simple, Keeping It Real.” The emphasis of the workshop was on helping youth leaders design activities that foster conversation and engagement, not only among youth but also with their parents or guardians.

“The workshop is aimed at listening to young people [speak] about what they need and to bring families into the process,” said Albrecht. One of the ways she and Cheek suggested to involve families was a discussion exercise in which “situation cards” are used to allow peer evaluation of choices when tricky situations are encountered, while engaging an adult to moderate the conversation if it gets off track.

Cheek says a philosophy of youth ministry is an important aspect of creating new and simple methods of engagement. “Sometimes you can feel like you’re overworked—and just a hamster on a hamster wheel—so giving [educators] an opportunity to pause and think though why youth ministry exists is important,” he said. “We believe we exist to empower youth and families for lifelong discipleship.”

Led by the Rev. Carl Horton of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the afternoon worship service incorporated holy humor as its theme. Horton said there are times when humor can break through the chaos, remind us of our shared desire to laugh and see ways in which God is bringing joy into the world.

Filled with activities that encouraged participants to find humor in themselves and others, the prayers of the people were accompanied by a round of Jenga, with participants removing a block from their stack after each prayer. With the knowledge that each stack would eventually topple, the message of the prayer was clear—God is still present even when everything falls apart.

In addition to recognizing newly certified Christian Educators, APCE presented its annual awards based on the organization’s values of “CONNECT, EMPOWER, SUSTAIN and ENRICH.” The CONNECT and EMPOWER awards were added for this year’s event.

Bette Case from the Presbytery of the Western Reserve received the CONNECT award in recognition of her ability to bring educators together for common learning.

Ruth Cole Burcaw received the EMPOWER award in recognition of her participation in the cooperative ministries for the Moravian Church.

Anne Wilson received the SUSTAIN Life Achievement award. During her career, Anne served as a church educator at Memorial Drive, St. Philip, and Northwoods Presbyterian churches in Houston. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Texas Presbyterian Foundation and Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary; a member of the Synod of the Sun Permanent Judicial Commission; and the treasurer for the South Central region of Association of Presbyterian Church Educators.

Laurie Farquharson was named the ENRICH Educator of the Year. She has spent the last 27 years as director of Christian Education at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood, Florida. A “home-grown” educator, Laurie receiving a call to ministry in her own church after a short career in elementary education and years of church volunteer work.

The 2018 meeting of APCE was held January 30–February 3 in Louisville. 

Gregg Brekke, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus:  Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE)

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Mission Co-workers

Gary Van Brocklin, Sri Lanka
Marlene Van Brocklin, Sri Lanka
Leslie Vogel, Guatemala

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rachel Yates, PMA                        
Andrew Yeager-Buckley, OGA     

Let us pray:

Lord, let us never forget the greatest commandment— “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Amen.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, March 26, 2017, the Fourth Sunday in Lent (Year A)

First Reading 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalm 23
Second Reading Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel John 9:1-41


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