World Food Day

You may not be aware of it, but Thursday, October 16 is World Food Day in Canada and the United States. This day was first established in 1979 in a collective effort to make the needs of hungry people known to the world at large.

Each year the World Food Programme(WFP)  of the United Nations publishes sobering facts about the number of hungry people in the world. Did you know, for instance, that there are at least 795 million people in the world who will go to bed hungry tonight? That is about one in every nine people. Asia is the continent that has the most hungry people, although the largest percentages of the total population can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. WFP also provides downloadable hunger maps that make the scope of this problem even more visible.

There are many resources available to churches who wish to educate about and simulate the issue of hunger. Continue reading

All Aboard the Intergenerational Train!

In their seminal work Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069, William Strauss and Neil Howe describe generations metaphorically as distinct trains carrying groups of like-minded people to stations that represent the different stages of life. For instance, today, the “Millennial” train is passing through the rising adulthood station and the “Generation X” train is passing through the midlife station. Strauss and Howe posit that each train looks different to observers as they come through each station because each generation has a distinct character.

Generation theory (and its precursors) has been around for a quarter-century now. Perhaps an older notion than that is the presumption of a “gap” between each generation that makes living together more difficult. This perception has been aided by a trend in American society toward age segregation over the last 100 years, with the youngest Americans receiving an education separate from adults, who are in the workplace, and separate from the oldest Americans, who are retired. That is a major shift from what was previously a largely agrarian society. Continue reading

The Experiment

We arrive at church for Sunday School early. While I assemble two large salads, my children set up for our feast. The scent of pizza wafts through the door ahead of the steaming boxes. People of all ages gather in a circle to share laughter, prayer, and grace. Tuesday Night Sunday School begins.

It started out as an experiment. Sunday School teachers were difficult to find. Parents were choosing between dropping children off for Sunday School and attending worship, as doing both seemed too time consuming. We wanted worship to be the family focus on Sundays.

Sunday School was banished from Sunday mornings, participation by parents or guardians insisted upon. Amidst skepticism from Church Council members, Tuesday Night Sunday School was born. Continue reading

The One Year Seminary

This is certainly one approach to adult education. I wonder how you structure your faith formation for adults. KLD

Columbia Connections

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning

Every once is a while (like last month, in fact) I get a call from a church leader wanting ideas about creating a mini-seminary in their congregations. While that idea is driven by a sincere desire to make Christian education more meaningful and effective in their congregations, I remain suspect of that approach. I believe that any congregation will be well-served by taking Christian education more seriously and, by going about its practice in more intentional ways. But I also believe that a seminary is one thing and a church another—and when it comes to educating in faith, the two should not be confused.

However, I appreciate the well-intentioned efforts of those who want a more rigorous “school of faith” in their congregations.

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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

Living Till We Die

The study guide, Living Till We Die: a journey of faith practices, was developed from a pilot course held at Hospice of the Upstate (SC) and was made possible through a grant from the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. Recognizing the difficulty people have in discussing end of life issues, the course seeks to create a safe environment to begin that conversation within the community of faith. Continue reading

Discussing Emotions Inside Out

Some of the best discussions I’ve ever had with groups have happened because of a movie. Beginning way back when Disney released “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and I took the youth group, to a moving community and church discussion of “The Passion of the Christ,” right up to the current Pixar/Disney movie “Inside Out,” a good movie has sparked all kinds of theologizing for me. It’s a great Nieburhian mix of church and culture – learning to see popular culture through the eyes of faith and take something meaningful away from it.

So when I saw “Inside Out,” I knew I had to write a discussion guide. This movie puts us in touch with what’s really inside of us, and gives us ways to consider how our emotions are expressed (or not expressed) in our lives. The movie opens the door so we can dive deep and learn some new things. My favorite discussion with my own daughter was about how joy and sadness can work together to make something deeply meaningful that really resonates for life. She’s entering middle school – years I remember as full of both emotions almost constantly!

Hopefully there will be something here to use in your ministries with all the different-aged theologians in your congregation.

Kimberly Secrist Ashby– Rev. Secrist Ashby is a Presbyterian pastor serving in Maryland. She is a Trainer and Board Chair for the Center for Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations Training, and soon to be in the church and leader consulting business as Shalom Consulting.

Here is the link to the free discussion guide created by Kimberly Secrist Ashby. It contains discussion questions for preschool, school age, and youth.

This resource is in no way affiliated with Disney or PIXAR. The Inside Out movie is property of Disney PIXAR which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this resource.