2023 Forma Conference Workshops
2023 Forma Conference Workshops
The workshops for the 2023 Forma Conference are listed below in alphabetical order. This year, two workshops per time slot will be available online. The online workshop options are italicized.
A Space for Grace: Pathways from Brokenness to Beauty
Robert T. Phillips
A Space for Grace: Pathways from Brokenness to Beauty invites you on a journey to reflect upon times of personal brokenness using psychological, theological, and relationship-focused lenses. Real-life stories and suggested introspective tools are presented to enable movement from the stalemate of personal brokenness toward pathways that unleash an energized personal beauty.
Becoming a Church of Lifelong Learners and Disciples
Churches can become centers of lifelong learning and faith formation that form, sustain, and deepen Christian faith in all ages and generations. Yet the task can feel overwhelming. What if we could identify the essential elements that make lifelong faith formation work—key elements that could guide decision-making and planning in every single church? This workshop proposes seven elements for developing lifelong faith formation that can be contextualized and customized for a diversity of settings. Pastors and faith formation leaders can use these seven elements to make lifelong faith formation a reality in their churches.
Being Well: Prioritizing Wellness in the Parish (available online)
Talking about mental health & wellness is important, but many people are unsure of where or how to start. During this 75-minute workshop, participants will learn strategies to boost conversations & awareness about mental health & wellness in their parish and how to intervene if they are concerned for a parishioners wellbeing.
Beloved Me, Beloved We
Dr. Cheryl Minor & Aimee Rose Formo
The Godly Play Foundation's goal is to delightfully and prophetically inspire brave spaces so that every child who comes close to Godly Play encounters a felt sense of their inherent worth and dignity as one uniquely and fully created in God’s image (Beloved Me) and co-creates a way of being and inspiring inclusive communities which celebrate the diversity of God and God’s creation (Beloved We). Grounded in the Godly Play framework of individual contemplation, collective storytelling, holy wondering, deep play, and mutual blessing, the Beloved Me, Beloved We initiative is an intentional process designed to create lasting change. This workshop will be an opportunity to learn about this initiative and spend some time considering how you can help create brave spaces with children in your own community.
Breaking Generational Barriers: Designing Formation that Empowers and not Subdivides (available online)
This workshop is a practical how-to guide to reworking traditional programs including Sunday School and Vacation Bible School to empower formation across generational lines. We will start at the foundational principles calling us to consider formation not from a lens of subdivided programing but whole-household empowerment and then work through the steps required to move the hearts and minds of church leadership and parishioners into new landscapes and expectations of formation. In a time when generation gaps seem gaping, parents feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to teach faith to their children, and a world requiring active faithful engagement to do the work of justice and love that God has given us to do, transforming formation to break down silos and sects into parallel learning and challenges to keeps the faith forming every day of the week are imperative to the work of the Gospel.
Building Resilient Communities of Faith
Wendy Johnson & Judy Douglas
Over the past several years we have witnessed a generational shift in young adult ministries. Communities built to meet the needs of a previous generation and now welcoming GenZ. We are challenged in new ways to find a relevant identity and purpose and to translate jargon like "service" "Intentional" "faith-based" into language that is relatable and meaningful. Not coming with answers, but joining you in conversation, Wendy, Judy, and other community leaders invite you to enter a dialogue about what it means to be community in 2023.
Coaching as Companion and Champion of Formation
Formation leaders tend to be creative, adaptable, passionate partners with God. However, the daily demands of ministry can at times detract from the transformative dreams of ministry. We can get lost in the weeds. But there is a way to both navigate the weeds and dream big. By working with coaches, formation leaders can better accomplish both today’s tasks and tomorrow’s goals. Coaches companion leaders and champion for their development. This hands-on workshop explores what coaching is, how it differs from other helping modalities, and the ways it can enhance and further your formation ministry.
Discipleship & Justice: Introducing Empathy and Equitability through Episcopal Relief & Development
Episcopal Relief & Development works to facilitate healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Our work addresses the life-changing priorities – women, children, climate to create authentic, lasting results. We also work around the world and here in the US responding to and rebuilding after disasters. Episcopal Relief & Development’s formation resources are intergenerational and designed to be used in church, at home, or hybridized. They introduce our earliest learners to empathy, bring an awareness of social justice to older children, including activities for youth and thought-provoking questions for adults.
Dismantling Racism With Kids Through Faith
Jennifer Holt Enriquez & Rev. William Bouvel
Tell Me the Truth About Racism is a story that frames racism through the lens of Christian faith for children aged 5-12. In this workshop, faith educators will experience one of the stories and have a chance to wonder as one would with kids. There will be discussion about how to lay groundwork with parents before you start, ideas/ examples how to use these stories in an intergenerational setting, in a day camp setting, and in a traditional Sunday morning Sunday school setting. Will Bouvel and Jen Holt Enriquez built the foundation of this work in Lent 2021 to teach to children at their churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Their approach defines racism as “The lie in our world that some people are better than others based on the color of their skin.” It is only because of the Truth we know from God, that all people are equally children of God, that we can clearly see how racism tells us a lie about who we are. Racism distorts us all - black, white, and brown - away from who God made us to be.
Forming Youth who Live Out Micah 6:8 (available online)
Gen Z is a generation like no other. They are both filled with fire and passion for societal change as well as grappling with anxiety and depression. Drawing on our book called The Micah Paradigm: Building a Culture of Justice and Mercy in Your Church's Children and Youth Programs, this workshop will focus on how to help youth understand their particular place in the work of the City of God. Our ultimate goal is to help youth understand that walking humbly with God happens when we walk in solidarity with the poor and marginalized of the world.
GOOD NEWS: Agrarian Ministry and Churchyard Stewardship
Brian Sellers Petersen
This will be a lively workshop grounded in Asset Based Community Development. Participants will be greeted with a easy take-away project related to agrarian ministry and churchyard stewardship. We will draw on the wealth of knowledge that participants bring to share stories of what works and doesn’t work. This workshop will showcase a number of programs and curricula and participants will leave with a robust list of resources.
Here I am: Partnering with Community Organizations for Youth Ministry (available online)
Matthew Welsch & Jennifer Chinn
In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of developing meaningful relationships between churches and youth-facing community organizations - like public schools, neighborhood community centers, and youth-led initiatives. Using Trinity Youth - the youth ministry of Trinity Church Wall Street - as a case study, we will explore the trials and tribulations of showing up for young people where they are. We will explore best practices for discernment and community-based asset mapping, developing strategies for participants’ unique contexts. Drawing on the wisdom of the group, participants will walk away with a preliminary plan to begin or deepen this work in their ministry settings. *Please bring a mobile device and a notebook.
How To: Prayground
Maya Little-Saña & Charlette Preslar
How to Prayground: It's not a nursery, Sunday School, or a distraction from the choir; but a deeply connective space for children and their caregivers to engage with worship. This workshop is rooted in the belief that children are integral members of the Body of Christ and, without their presence, our worship is impoverished. Praygrounds are a way to respond to Jesus’ call to let the little children come to him- but how do you begin to Prayground? This workshop will provide suggestions for draft parish communications, links to recommended foam blocks and flooring, and materials for liturgical engagement. We will also create space for open dialogue about the challenges, joys, and logistics of implementing a Prayground. In this workshop, “Prayground” transforms from an abstract idea to an actual space, a noun to an active verb; “to Prayground” is to relinquish rigid expectations and embrace the movement of the Holy Spirit, manifest in the wiggles and joyous squeals of children.
Intergenerational Ministry: Re-inventing Traditional Programming
COVID has forced us all to re-invent what "traditional" ministry programming looks like. VBS has been no different! What if VBS was offered to the entire church and not just the children? What started as a way to offer VBS while staying socially-distanced, has now turned into one of the most successful Intergenerational programs at our church. I am excited to share how our church now offers VBS, Advent and Lent programming to every member, no matter the age, and everyone walks away already looking forward to the next event! The relationship building that we have had at our church because of these programs has been priceless! After hearing about what has worked for us, participants will brainstorm how this might work at their churches.
Introducing Centered: A Christian Discipleship Experience (available online)
Jerusalem J Greer
If you are looking for a way to begin or deepen discipleship work in your community and congregation, please join us for an introduction to Centered: A Christian Discipleship Experience led by members of the creative team and participants. Centered is a discipleship series guiding small, gathered communities to get deeply rooted in love with God and one another, so that we grow to look, act, and love more like Jesus. The experience includes an initial three-session training for group facilitators and a core of nine sessions where church members, neighbors, and friends gather to share a meal and prayer; explore a short film and questions about God, belonging and living a meaningful life; and support each other in committing to intentionally center their lives on Jesus and his Way of Love. In this workshop, we will model some of the tools provided in Centered and share tips and insights on how to use this free resource in various contexts.
Messy Church: A Space for Everyone (available online)
Johannah Myers & Roberta Egli
This workshop explores the 5 core values of Messy Church - hospitality, all-ages, creativity, celebration, and Christ-centered. We will demonstrate how Messy Church works and how it can be adapted to your specific context. We'll also consider how Messy Church, a model of intergenerational ministry, creates space for everyone to explore faith together. A Messy Church worship on Wednesday evening at the conference will give you the Messy experience. This workshop will help folks who were intrigued by Messy Church walk away with enough information to discern if Messy Church is a good fit for their community. Plus you will receive some tips on how to get a Messy Church started.
Opening God's Gifts
Sean McConnell & Nandra Perry
God has gifted us with all things necessary to realize God's dream for us, for our communities and for the world. Asset-Based Community Development provides tools for discerning God's gifts and dreaming the possible. This workshop will provide a framework for congregational formation that is gifts-centered.
Radical Gratitude: A Pathway for Young Adults to live into Micah 6:8
Stephanie Townes & Katelyn Kenney
In this workshop, we’ll explore the landscape of young adult formation ministry today and how a committed gratitude practice grounded in theology can bridge the gap between mainstream mindfulness thinking and a deeper spiritual life for young people. We’ll also present exciting new formation resources that seek to bring this concept to life through individual and group practice, art, and online community.
Safe Church, Safe Communities (available online)
Bronwyn Clark Skov & The Rev. Tim Spannaus
Safe Church, Safe Communities is not simply the branding for our updated policies and Praesidium courses required to comply with General Convention resolutions. The recent update is an invitation to be the change we wish to see in our own faith communities and in the world. Join us for a brief presentation and follow-up conversation regarding the implementation of the new materials. Presenters are well versed in policy, practice, and course content. Join us and become active participants in our growing network of learning and practice.
Spark Kindness: Joyful, Service-Minded Strategies to Empower Families and Connect Communities (available online)
MiaLisa McFarland Millares
Creating fun, meaningful opportunities for families to serve others can be a joyful opportunity to nurture social connections and a sense of purpose, all while making a meaningful difference for your community. Learn more about the many-layered and timely benefits family volunteer opportunities can have on youth outcomes, family bonds, and community culture. Explore a variety of strategies for on-the-spot and virtual family service opportunities that spark the spirit of giving and discover innovative tools that encourage big-hearted reflection and generosity long after your event has concluded. Participants will have opportunities to brainstorm practical implementation strategies in small group break-out sessions and create a personalized outline for immediate action.
The Path of Discipleship from Newcomer to Ownership: Strategies of Spiritual Formation
Whether they belong to a church or not, people often happily talk about their personal 'spiritual journeys'. Many are less comfortable with the idea of 'discipleship’ or being labeled a 'disciple.' Yet I believe the two terms are similar. God calls each one of us, lay or ordained, to a spiritual path of discipleship. This workshop explores how we can plan our formation offerings through a lens of Episcopal discipleship that incorporates an understanding of the needs of the disciple, whether they are a 'newcomer' or an experienced worshiper or ‘owner’. During the workshop we discuss the qualities and signs of each stage on the discipleship path. This series of stages or steps can be used to understand and organize formation offerings. Participants will leave with a new perspective on spiritual gifts, discipleship, and the church newcomer.
The Sorting Hat: The Adult Catechumenate and preparation for already Baptized Adults
Larry Ehren & Michael Marchal
An introduction to the Adult Catechumenate, which is both liturgical and catechetical for adult seekers. Most adults who are exploring the Episcopal Church have been baptized. This workshop will explore how to appropriately engage with adults who are seeking to Reaffirm their Baptism, be Received into the Episcopal Church, or return to being active in the Episcopal Church. While the Rites of the Catechumenate are presented in the Book of Occasional Services, these rites call for adaption for those who are already Baptized. This workshop will introduce the process of the Catechumenate. In addition, there will be a short introduction to the liturgical aspects of the Catechumenate.
The Way of Love and Becoming Beloved Community with Children The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: A Ministry to Children and Families from infancy through age 12
This workshop will provide a window into the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd from toddlers through age 12, a way to nurture the spiritual lives of children using the Montessori approach, in a specially prepared environment called the atrium, where all are welcome. The religious values and needs of children are centered in a holistic, developmentally appropriate way, a place of listening to God with children, a place of prayer, living the liturgy and celebrating the church year, a celebration of the gifts of God encompassing all of creation and building Beloved Community. In addition, this workshop will provide practical guidance on creating a prayer space in any setting.
The Wondering Together Project
This workshop will be ridiculously easy and and offers another tool for you to support those you serve outside of Sunday morning worship. The Wondering Together Project (“WTP”) is a simple, short daily practice for households of all ages and configurations to connect, to hear a little bit about one another’s day, and to be held and loved in their sharing. The five super familiar questions that comprise the WTP are born of the Ignatian examen, Godly Play, and the EQ practice of affect naming. During our time together, we will try the practice and learn how to offer it at church, at home, at meetings and so much more beyond traditional ministry settings! You will leave with your own Wondering Stone too.
Think Like an Artist: Creative Approaches to Formation
What do a listening library in Chicago, a mobile beauty parlor in New York, and a community garden in Fargo have in common? They’re all examples of a form of contemporary art known as social practice or socially engaged art. This kind of art creates participatory, immersive experiences that seek to intervene directly in the world and generate new ways of thinking, doing, relating, and being. As faith communities compete for members’ attention and time, often with limited resources, there is much we might learn from artists who capture people’s imagination and invite their participation by creatively using what’s on hand. This workshop draws on the insights of socially engaged art to offer participants a different approach to conceptualizing, planning, and leading formation. After exploring contemporary examples of social practice, we’ll consider how experiences that are novel, co-created, and embodied might deeply form members to do justice and love kindness, and we’ll conclude with space for participants to imagine how they can incorporate these ideas into their own ministry context.
Toward Hope: Living into the Season of Creation
How do we move forward with the work of caring for creation amid the ecological devastation, dire news, and urgent and immense problems surrounding the climate crisis? Toward Hope is an immersive faith-growing experience, part individual, part communal, that inspires and equips people for the work of caring for creation by reorienting them to creation-centered, faith-based practices; discernment; and intentional nurturing of grounded hope. Especially appropriate for the Season of Creation, this hybrid experience invites small groups, congregations, and whole dioceses on a four-week journey of prayer, reflection, learning, and action. Toward Hope uses a flexible hybrid model of in-person (physical or via Zoom) gatherings, asynchronous experiences and discussions, and Zoom worship and prayer.
Using Picture Books for Racial Reconciliation
Books offer an excellent way to enter into challenging topics. Not everyone has the time or inclination to join a book discussion group or read a long book about a challenging subject. Picture books offer a way to discover, discuss, and share your stories about topics you probably didn’t learn about in school but are crucial as we work to repair, heal, and see God in each other. Miriam will share her methods using picture books and small group discussions that work well in person and online.
You can’t pour from an empty cup: Putting the Professional in Lay Professional (available online)
Missy Morain & Andrea McKellar
This workshop, designed for lay professionals and the clergy who hire them, looks at tools for success for those professionals as they minister in their congregations and dioceses. What should a Letter of Agreement look like? What benefits are lay professionals entitled to? How do you ask for a raise and negotiate your LOA? How do you set your boundaries? How do you know your worth AND your value to a system? Forma advocates that the Church hire professionals, pay them a professional wage and benefits, and expect professional results. This workshop will help you create that professionalism in your own context.