PC(USA) Christian Formation team seeks collaborative approach
September 22, 2018
For the first time ever, representatives from the five “ages and stages” ministry associations that work in Christian formation in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) were in the same room, at the same time, with the same goal: to figure out how they might more collaboratively work together with the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). Ministries represented were:
- Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE)
- Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association (PYWA)
- UKirk Network–PC(USA) Collegiate Ministries (UKirk)
- Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA)
- Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network (POAMN)
Each group was invited to send representatives to Stony Point Center recently for a two-day gathering organized by the PC(USA) Christian formation team, which is led by the Rev. Dr. Jason Brian Santos.
“We’re all working on various ages and stages of formation,” said Santos. “My question for all us was ‘Why aren’t we doing more of it together?’”
Aware that relationships between several of the associations and the PMA have been strained in the past, those gathered spent the first morning sharing stories about what they do and how they have worked with the national office over the years.
“The first thing we did was reconcile for the ways we haven’t connected with and supported them in the past,” said Santos. “Then each of them had a chance to share about how their work supported lifelong formation. This opened the door to new dialogue about how we might support them faithfully.”
On the second day, Santos shared with them some of the challenges and hopes their team had for Christian formation in the denomination. The conversation centered on two questions: How could the national office collaborate with each of them better? And how might the PMA encourage collaboration among them, with an emphasis on intergenerational faith formation?
The Theology, Formation & Evangelism staff has spent the last couple of years wrestling with these questions. As coordinator of a team responsible for a wide range of ministries encompassing children, youth, young adults, collegiate ministries, camps and conference centers and Christian education, Santos increasingly recognized the difficulty of covering these ages and stages ministries well.
“We’re a small staff with a small budget,” he said. “We’ve come to a place where we have less time to work on all the different ages and stages ministries, and we’d like to have more time to work with presbyteries on intergenerational faith formation.”
To encourage the ages and stages ministry in each of their covenant partners’ work, Christian Formation will offer financial support for leadership development in each association, beginning in the 2019–2020 budget year.
The team will also support covenant partners who collaborate both with the PMA to do ages and stages ministry and with each other in doing intergenerational ministry.
“We have much to gain by working side by side with these ministries,” said PCCCA Executive Director Joel Winchip. “I see the possibility of joint programs that will mutually benefit camps and conferences ministry as we seek to address the ages and stages of faith formation.”
POAMN Director Michele Hendrix has already had conversations about a possible collaborative project with UKirk, inviting collegiate ministry participants to present workshops at POAMN’s regional conference next spring.
“Our long-term goal is to work toward a mentor/coach model” between older adults and college adults, she said. The hope, she added, is “that the wisdom of their years and professional experience can be shared with the next generation.”
“I see these PMA covenant partner groups paving a new way,” said Preston Turley, co-moderator of the UKirk Network Board. “Intergenerational ministry will be learned in the practice of trying, doing and even failing. I found our conversations at the gathering fruitful. Good things are coming.”
Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: PC(USA) Christian Formation Team
Let us join in prayer for:
The Christian Formation Team
Jason Brian Santos, Coordinator for Christian Formation, Collegiate Ministries and Christian Education
Gina Yeager-Buckley, Associate for Christian Formation: Children and Ministries with Youth
Brian Frick, Associate for Christian Formation: Young Adults and Camps and Conferences
Heather Leoncini, Administrative Staff for Christian Formation
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Living God, we thank you for the opportunity you have given, the means you have provided, and the desire you have created in us to use the skills you have blessed us with. Help us to grow in our faith and to be a catalyst for spiritual growth in others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.