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Middlers will engage in weeklong confirmation class at Montreat

‘Big God, Big Questions’ curriculum will guide confirmands during Presbyterian Association of Musicians 2021 Worship and Music Conference

By Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service 

A confirmation class at the Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky, held before the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of the Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green

LOUISVILLE — Although they won’t actually “be confirmed” during the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) 2021 Worship and Music Conference, a small group of middlers will make history by being part of the first denomination-wide confirmation class at Montreat.

The weeklong confirmation class, June 22–July 2, hosted by PAM and the Presbyterian Publishing Corp., will take place during PAM’s intergenerational 2021 Worship and Music Conference at Montreat. The overall conference theme is “Gathered in My Name.”

The class will be limited to 30 confirmands and will use the PC(USA)’s new curriculum, “Big God, Big Questions: Confirmation for a Growing Faith” (BGBQ). Since confirmation is about getting ready to answer some big questions on each person’s journey, the course will equip students to tell their own faith story as Christian believers within a context of a local church.

Local churches will not just be sending their middlers to Montreat for the confirmation class, but also mentors — at least one adult mentor for every three or four confirmands. The mentors will provide an intergenerational connection between the local church and the PC(USA). After the class, the mentor, who has walked alongside the student during the class, can share more with the session and the local church.

Some small churches may have only one confirmand and mentor to send to the class, so this combined class will provide an opportunity for students from smaller churches to be part of a group as they prepare to be confirmed at their home church.

“I think what’s exciting about what we’re offering is confirmation in both a big and little scale, kind of macro and micro,” said the Rev. Meg Rift, curriculum editor and member of the editorial team at Presbyterian Publishing Corp. that produced BGBQ. “It’s macro in that we’re saying anyone across the whole country can come and do confirmation with us, but it’s micro because we’re going to form our own little group at Montreat with these youth.

“That’s not anything I know that’s ever been done,” Rift said.

The confirmands will have an advantage, since the conference includes all ages, said Kelly Abraham, PAM executive director. “They’ll go to worship, then they’ll go to their class, like they would at home. So, they’ll experience an intergenerational church community all week long.”

As a church youth director for 13 years before moving into her leadership role with PAM, Abraham said she often wished for a good PC(USA) confirmation curriculum. “And now we have it,” she said. “I think we should be shouting from the mountaintops!”

The Rev. Linda Kurtz, associate pastor of Christian Formation at First Presbyterian Church of Lexington, Kentucky, said she enjoyed using the BGBQ curriculum this year. “Not only is the written material comprehensive and theologically sound,” Kurtz said, “but the visuals (both printed and video) and hands-on activities provided really help emphasize the lessons and make the material accessible to all learning styles.”

The Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a Matthew 25 church, used the BGBQ curriculum for its 2018–19 confirmation class of 10 students. Each student had a mentor, either ordained, a deacon or an elder, some currently serving. The mentors were required to attend Child Protection Training and have a background check to participate. Mentors were encouraged to find outside activities — sporting events, meeting for ice cream, a meal at a restaurant — so the relationships extended beyond the church walls.

Leslee Kirkconnell, director of Christian Education at the Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, said, “I think one of the most engaging parts of the materials were the visitors for the various classes. It deepened our experience to hear from other adults about their faith journey, why they were passionate about how they serve the Lord, and what they looked forward to for this particular group of young people. I know the bonds of the group were strengthened as we journeyed together. And ultimately relationships are the key for kids to stay part of the church in the long term. Knowing and trusting adults beyond their families is key and these materials provided a way to introduce the generations.”

Kirkconnell added, “I love the idea of ‘group confirmation’ at Montreat, having been part of confirmation retreats at camps in several presbyteries.”

Registration for the confirmation class at Montreat opens Jan. 5. The registration fee for PAM’s 2021 Worship and Music Conference includes participation in the confirmation class. If you have questions about the confirmation class or BGBQ curriculum, contact Rift at mrift@presbypub.com.

Gathered in My Name conference logoThe Presbyterian Association of Musicians intergenerational 2021 Worship and Music Conference at Montreat is for children, youth, adults, pastors, directors, organists, pianists, guitarists, percussionists, ringers, worship leaders, choir members and anyone who loves and takes part in the worship and music of the church. PAM believes that formative and collaborative experiences with God and neighbor nurture relationships and create community. If you have questions about PAM, contact pam@pcusa.org.


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