Camp and Conference Remix- Part 1

The summer is drawing to a close. Vacation Bible School and mission trips are in the rear view mirror as the focus is moving towards Rally Day and fall programs. During this transition, let’s not forget that some significant Christian Education happened this summer…at our camps and conference centers. The children and youth of your congregation participated in a variety of programs over the summer. These individuals may have had a “mountain top experience,” a significant faith experience that brought them closer to God. Not only do we need to acknowledge a possible milestone on their faith journey, it is also important for us to share their experience with the rest of the congregation. Connecting with them as the church helps sustain this significant faith experience.

Connecting with your youth on conference experiences is a little easier. Adult advisors on those trips can help with the post-conference follow-up. Here are some suggestions: 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

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.

Water @This Point

Almost ten years ago, Columbia Theological Seminary inaugurated a new online journal, @ this point: theological investigations in church and culture. The goal of the journal was straightforward: to model (and encourage) theological conversation among Christian laity on important topics of the day and, therein, help shape a more theologically literate church. The format, too, was straightforward: invite a scholar to write a lead essay on an assigned topic, ask three other scholars to write responses to the lead essay, and then have the lead essayist write a reply to the responses. The back-and-forth is intended not to foreclose conversation or thought but to open them up; as such we ask the scholars to end with questions, not criticisms and to highlight new ideas rather than simply assessing old ones. And we strongly encourage our writers to be brief but thoughtful and to avoid academic jargon where possible. “Think of your audience as the people sitting in the pews with you,” we tell them. “They may have college degrees, but those degrees aren’t likely to be in religion or philosophy. So think about the engineer or the schoolteacher in your midst.” Continue reading

Vacation Bible School-Yesterday and Today

It’s that time of year again when churches around the country hold Vacation Bible Schools in various formats. For a week or more the church is turned into a biblical marketplace or an underwater reef or a host of other locales to combine Scripture, music, crafts, and games to communicate the Gospel to children and others.

But where did this tradition begin? It seems that the first recorded summer Bible school in the United States was instituted by Mrs. Walker Aylette Hawes in 1898 in conjunction with Epiphany Baptist Church on New York City’s east side. Mrs. Hawes noticed how many immigrant children were roaming the streets in the summer, so she searched for a rented facility where she could begin a six-week summer school. The only available facility was a saloon and thus VBS was born in a bar. Continue reading

What’s a Salon?

I thought a salon was a place one went to have their hair “done” or to get a pedicure. Only recently did I learn that salon originally referred to an important place for the exchange of ideas. According to wikipedia.org, a salon, commonly associated with the French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, is a gathering of people in someone’s home for the purpose of education and enjoyment. Salon is thus the perfect name for adult conversational gatherings in private homes.

Continue reading