by Karen Ziel
This interview features two faith formation leaders currently serving CT congregations and participating in Vibrant Faith University, or VFU. VFU offers a certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century. “It will immerse you into the new world of faith formation.” The program offers leaders an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and practices for faith formation in these six courses:
1: A Faith Forming Congregational Culture for the 21st Century
2: Intergenerational Faith Formation Course
3: Family Faith Formation Course
4: Age-Group Faith Formation Course
5: Missional Faith Formation Course
6: Leading Faith Formation in the 21st Century
What are the benefits to leaders? What is the potential impact to your ministry? Sue Timony-Hall and Rosemary Lamie shared their experience with me. (Karen Ziel, Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for the CT. Conference) They share a cohort and I am their learning guide. These leaders have just begun their fourth class at VFU. A new CT cohort will begin in September of 2017. For more information, visit Vibrant Faith here https://www.vibrantfaith.org/certff21/
If you are a faith formation leader in the CT UCC community and become a student of VFU, you may request me as your learning guide. If you'd like more information or have questions about the local cohort, please give me a call.
KZ: What prompted you to enroll in and pursue this coursework?
Sue: In conjunction with my discernment of call to Commissioned Ministry in faith formation, I decided this coursework would be excellent preparation for my particular ministry. I was excited about the ongoing work of Leif Kerhwald of Vibrant Faith and John Roberto of Lifelong Faith Associates who designed the program and serve as key faculty. I was especially eager to learn and exchange ideas with others in the same field.
Rosemary: This opportunity presented me with a means to immerse myself in the whys and hows of faith formation practices. I appreciate the integrity and success of the VFU faculty in the work of faith formation nationally.
KZ: What are the joys and challenges thus far?
Rosemary: Coming to know Sue and other practitioners in the program from across the country has been valuable. Sharing and hearing our various experiences and learning from the unique approach each leader takes are wonderful. The challenge is keeping up with my course work during the busiest seasons of the church.
Sue: The student interaction and especially within the CT Cohort has been a nice surprise for me. Developing my own knowledge of each topic and a comprehensive bank of resources to access for my local church work helps me to create a shared vision.
While I am busy in so many aspects of my life, the challenge is finding balance and incorporating my coursework regularly.
KZ: How have you shared key insights learned or particular “takeaways” in your ministry?
Sue: I have been sharing new ideas with my CE team, my senior pastor as well as church members when our conversations provide an opening. I have shared insights with our Adult Ministry and Outreach commissions when working together on shared projects.
Rosemary: I have used resources on our website and shared others with my associate pastor and staff. I have used specific articles that I introduced in our Family Ministries newsletters and weekly teacher’s letters. Some information is naturally seeping into conversations with colleagues and volunteers.
KZ: With your growing knowledge, do you see an impact?
Sue: It has helped me to consider and begin to place a greater emphasis on inter-generational ministry for strengthening the faith of individuals of each generation as well as facilitating bonding and relationships between the generations. I look forward to doing more within the church to incorporate the milestones that quite naturally lend themselves to celebrating with and supporting one another through important moments life.
Rosemary: We have created a series of faith formation breakfasts and have placed a greater importance on inter-generational programs like Feast and Fast for Mardi Gras.
KZ: Finally, what future coursework are you most eager to engage?
Rosemary: I look forward to the leadership development course not only for my own growth and skill honing but also as a way to begin to train prospective faith formation team members.
Sue: I am eager to learn more about adult formation as a way to equip parents to become more actively engaged in their role of spiritual development of their own children.
Meet Rosemary and Sue
Rosemary Lamie is the Director of Family Ministries at the First Congregational Church in Greenwich, CT.
She is committed to accompanying children, their parents and all on the faith journey at First Church. Now in her fifteenth year, Rosemary, “loves finding ways for our children and adults to bring their faith alive …”
Sue Timony-Hall is the Director of Children and Youth Ministry at the First Congregational Church in Madison, CT.
She is a member in discernment with the New Haven East Consociation and has an extensive background working with children and youth in many ways throughout her community and has a passion for "reaching people in our increasingly secular world and feeding them in a way that their involvement in other organizations does not."
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