Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Certificate Program conclusion

Pendle Hill in Philadelphia
I traveled last week to Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center just outside of Philadelphia. I was attending the final week of a yearlong journey that I have been on for Forma's Certificate Program for Leadership in Lifelong Christian Formation.

When a friend who participated in the first cohort recommended that I apply for the program a year and a half ago, I was in a very different place than I am now. I didn’t think I was ready. I didn’t think I had enough experience. Frankly I was insecure and after a few turbulent years, not sure about anything.

According to the Forma website, 

The Certificate in Leadership in Lifelong Christian Formation (CLLCF) is a program designed for those who have demonstrated on-the-ground experience in a congregation (or other context) in the area of Christian Formation. Participants are required to have completed five years of full-time (or equivalent) ministry. The goal is to equip practitioners with supplementary preparation and the additional learning and tools they need to enable in-depth Christian Formation leadership for their congregations and communities. The program is designed to customize learning to individual needs. In this process a community of learners will be formed who will practice and model Lifelong Christian Formation not just for the duration of the program, but beyond it into and through their professional lives.

This was definitely the program for me and the time to do it. It is for those who are not new to ministry. You need to have a few years under your belt, already know the basics of theology and be comfortable expressing your thoughts and understandings of your ministry. This does not mean you have to know it all or have a clear understanding of your path. Quite the opposite actually. Many of us were in a time of transition in our lives and careers with an uncertain future. For some the program has helped explore the opportunities available to us and some have strengthened their own understanding of their ministry and leadership context to prepare them for future opportunities.
Andrea sharing her excitement about the emerging church

The basis of the program revolves around two things – a learning covenant you create at the beginning of the year that sets learning goals and steps to fulfill those goals and a capstone project that you work on for the second half of the year. This is a personalized project.

One of the best parts of the program is the collaboration of the cohort. We had 6 in my program year and we were from all over the country and worked in a variety of contexts. Working in ministry, especially lay ministry, can leave you without a support network. It was a safe space that we could support each other, talk about our struggles and celebrate our successes.

My project was "Funeral Home Church". It is the story of starting a congregation in the chapel of a funeral home after the split in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. More than just the emotions of it, it is the lessons that we have learned from doing church without a building that are transferable to other congregations either reimagining their future or starting fresh. I plan to continue that process by working on a book and presenting to conferences and churches to share this important story.
The 2015 and 2016 cohorts with the four faculty members

The program allowed me to be vulnerable, to name my ministry and claim the authority that I have to share it. Thank you to all of my blog readers – friends, colleagues, dreamers, wanderers that have found this space over the last few months. I will continue to write and share the story of St. Francis in this space and in new forms. 

Forma is a grassroots association of members of The Episcopal Church and kindred individuals and institutions, Forma supports, networks, advocates for, resources, and celebrates Christian formation leaders in their Christian formation ministries. I have been a member for four years and they have been instrumental in my ministry.  Learn more about the organization and the two certificate programs they offer at episcoforma.org and join me at the 20th Annual Forma Conference January 25-27, 2017 in Garden Grove, CA.

My tuition for the Certificate Program was funded by a grant The Episcopal Church in South Carolina received from The Roanridge Trust.

Thank you to Julie Lytle for the photography from our time together.

1 comment:

  1. your program seems very promising i am really moved by the happy smiles which ensures the excellence of it all. keep doing a great job and keep us updated