TheoEd Talks

Several years ago, our church began wondering how to advance church-based theological education. While the church continued its traditional Sunday school and adult bible study programs, we also perceived that the culture around us was changing. Our members (and potential members!) interacted with sophisticated, on-demand technology every day in their offices and homes. Those in our community listened to podcasts as they commuted and streamed YouTube videos in the evening.  How could we better leverage technology in our Christian Education programs? Could we think more creatively about how to deliver our programming to an increasingly busy and technologically-savvy congregation?

These wonderings led to the development of “TheoEd Talks.” This program brings together leading thinkers from the academy, the church, and the non-profit sector. Each speaker offers a 20-minute talk designed to spark meaningful conversations on how we think about the Bible, theology, and faithful engagement in the world. These talks will be recorded on audio and video and made available through our website as a free, public resource for download.

The first series of talks will feature: Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School; Dr. Brent Strawn, Professor of Old Testament at Emory University; and Dr. Gregory Ellison, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The inaugural live recording will be held at First Presbyterian Church on the evening of Sunday September 24, 2017 from 5:00-7:00pm in Fifield Hall.

To register or for more information, visit our site at: theoed.com  or contact us at: theoed.com@gmail.com.

Cassie Waits,Stembler Fellow for Adult Discipleship, First Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Cassie Waits graduated in May from Columbia Theological Seminary in the Masters of Divinity Program. To read her complete essay on the rationale behind TheoEd Talks, which won the Julia Abdullah Award for innovative educational ministry design, click on the file linked here.

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Christian Faith, the Bible, and Public Schools

My mother began her teaching career in the public schools in the early 1970s. Over the years, she has recounted the times when she was expected to read the Bible to students. She remembers lovingly sharing Bible stories and even praying with her elementary-aged students. However, as the years passed, those expectations changed, and by the time she retired a few years ago, she no longer read—and wonders if she would have been allowed to read—Bible stories to students.

There is no question that the role of the Bible and Christian faith in the public schools has changed dramatically over the last half century. Some of these changes have been for the better; others have been less positive. Still, it has left some wondering, “Is there a place for the Bible and Christian faith in American public schools today? And, if so, what is it?”

Continue reading

A Lord’s Supper Series for Grades 3-5

I created this lesson series to fulfill my Educational Design requirement for educator certification in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I focused on scripture and liturgy together, in the context of biblical miracle narratives.

The first lesson focuses on the Lord’s Supper in its Passover context. Lessons 2-6 incorporate the miracle narratives: The Wilderness Miracles in Exodus 15-16, The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), Feeding the Multitudes (Matt 14:13-21), Cast Your Nets in the Deep Waters (Luke 5:1-11 and The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Students experienced the miracle narratives and learned the Words of Institution while handling the elements. Continue reading

Illustrated Children’s Ministry

In my ten years of ministry, serving four different churches, one element of worship that has always been hit-or-miss was the children’s moment.

More often than not, a well-meaning pastor or lay leader would invite the kids up for a few cute jokes, or maybe a creative object lesson that would just go over the kids’ heads. This always annoyed me.

In my last call, as I was exploring and reclaiming my identity as an artist, I began creating illustrations of the lectionary passage for the day, and used those as visual aids to simply tell children the biblical story for the day. I then gave the children a copy of the illustration to take home. Continue reading

WWJT

This last Saturday I was with a group from Salem Presbytery exploring what it means to be The Hopeful Church. We looked at the current state of Christian education in mainline churches, particularly the PC(USA). We talked  about how difficult it is to change the model of Sunday School with which many of us have grown up.

Then we tried an activity to break us out of our preconceived notions of what Christian Education is about. I called it WWJT, which could be translated “What Would Jesus Teach?” or “Where Would Jesus Teach?” Continue reading

Words of Hope

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and the Department of Homeland Security, there are estimated to be 480,000 immigrants of all ages and genders living without legal status in Georgia in 2010. Georgia is also home to three operating detention facilities housing those apprehended without proper documentation and/or other offenses.

The circumstances of many of the detainees involve weeks awaiting a fate that usually ends in deportation. In some cases, deportation to a country that is unfamiliar, dangerous, without family and without hope of ever seeing U.S. born children again.

The summer of 2013, I was asked by Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) to compile a Bible study for female detainees that would compliment their visitation program called Friends in Hope (FIH) Continue reading

Reminder Rocks

Middle school and high school youth are an integral part of the leadership of Vacation Bible School at Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church–under the watchful care of loving adults of a large span of ages. Two of the afternoons they stay later–one is a mission day and the other is just for fun. This year, our mission afternoon was called Random Acts of Kindness Day. We began with a Bible study and discussion about the experience of feeling “not good enough” (sports, academics, looks, parental expectations…). We found we are either disappointed or discouraged when we fail or fall short of the standards set by others (or perhaps even ourselves). That failure either makes us try harder the next time or often means we never try again. Or worse. But as followers of Jesus Christ, we have hope in God and understand that God’s love is unconditional. Good news!
(Romans15:13, 1 Peter 1:3-4)
We believe that God believes we are good enough. Continue reading