Jesus Shows Up – A Chaplain Reflects on CPE in North Dakota

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Here at Building Faith we know that Christian Formation occurs in many other places besides church and Sunday school. The home, the school – the car! What about the hospital?

We caught up with Kristen Pitts, who is completing her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This means she serves a chaplain intern, meeting with patients, family members, and hospital staff.

Does Christian Formation occur in CPE – you bet it does. Read Kristen’s reflections below.

An Episcopal Perspective on the Child Refugee Crisis


As Central American children stream across the US border in unprecedented numbers, congregations across the country are moving from adding a line in the Prayers of the People towards meaningful engagement, both in worship and personal action. If you are looking for faithful response, more information, or routes for advocacy, we have collected a few resources. […]

Living Breathing Christianity – Reflections on the Episcopal Youth Event

EYE 2014

Last week, hundreds of teenagers from around the country gathered at Villanova University. Fellowship, workshops, presentations, service projects, worship…

The gathering was The Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) – held every three years. What happened – and what was the purpose? Take a look at what several teens said for themselves:

A New Children’s Bible You Need: Shine On!


One of the best resources in the new Shine curriculum is Shine On, a story bible for young people in grades 1 through 8. This is the Bible I would purchase for Sunday school classrooms and recommend for families. And it is available in Spanish!

The 320-page, hardcover book is filled with stories of people “wrestling to know God and give us a glimpse of God’s desire for the world.” Both Old and New Testament stories are included with highlights of biblical poetry, songs, laws, instructions, and history.

A Video to Spark Discussion – This is Church


This summer at Building Faith we will be posting a few videos that we hope will be useful to you.

These are not videos have made. And these are not perfect videos.

We think, however, that they will be good food for thought. Perhaps it is something you might share and discuss within a small group of youth or adults.

Summer Nurture – Talking and Listening with Children

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Children are on a mission: God is working in, through and with them. what might be our role as parents – or caregivers in any capacity? How do we celebrate their noticings, attend when they are joyous or sorrowful, and offer creative paths from boredom into engagement?
Listening comes first: fully listening to the child – not distracted by our busy schedules and mobile devices. It helps for us to be thinking in terms of of leading questions that engage, instead of just seeking the right answer. For example, “What do you think about that?”

And a Chaplain Walks Among Them – Ministering to Camp Staff


This summer I’ve been living in community with the 12 “permanent” (read: summer-long) staff members at Camp Bratton-Green, the camp of the Diocese of Mississippi. I never went to camp as a kid and had no real experience with college students—other than being one a couple of decades ago—so I was a little nervous about how my 10-week stint as the chaplain to the group might go. Despite myself, I worried about whether they would like me, whether they would be willing to talk to me about their lives. If not, I knew it could be a long summer for both them and me, since we’d be seeing a lot of one another.

On Independence Day – What Does the Bible Say About Freedom?


Today is Independence Day, 2014. In the United States we take this day to celebrate the birth of a nation, and more broadly, the gifts of freedom and liberty that Americans hold dear.

It would be a bit too easy to simply say that American freedom is a direct reflection of the freedom described in the Bible. That’s because Biblical freedom has a theological component which sets it apart.

In the Bible, people are made free for a specific purpose: to serve God.

Three Keys for Welcoming Newcomers at Church


One of the most difficult things to do in life is to walk into a church for the very first time. To walk through the doors of an unknown congregation is like leaping out the door of an airplane. There’s anxiety, fear, trepidation, and the hope that your parachute will actually open at the appropriate time. Okay, maybe not the parachute, but all the emotions certainly apply.

Being Church, Being Proud

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Nothing surprised me more than seeing my daughter excited to hand out “come to church” flyers at a gay pride parade. She and her friends even carried the church banner. It seemed so incongruous – Kids? Pride? Church? I couldn’t imagine truculent teenagers would want to do anything as sappy and uncool as march with […]

How to Pray with Sign Language in Church


Christians beg to differ. And so it is: when we use our bodies in worship, we make a theological claim. Flesh can be good! Of course, in this world we will always fall short (sin), but as we offer our bodies in service to God, we get a glimpse of God’s ultimate intention. And that intention is good!

So… how about sign language? The good folks at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco have passed on to us their resources for using sign American language during traditional Episcopal worship services.

Chaplain Downrange: Daily Ministry with the Troops

Jagged, barren mountains frame the horizon, creating spectacular sunrises and sunsets, reminiscent of the high desert regions of the homeland I miss. Deployment is hot, dry and challenging, in that “far from home, always on duty even when you’re not officially on duty” sort of way. Living conditions are moderately austere, but our basic needs […]

Forming Faith at a Spanish Wedding


I recently had the privilege of traveling to Spain for the wedding of our dear friends Megan and Jorge. The bride is American, the groom is Columbian, the wedding was Spanish, and the happy couple will continue to reside in Barcelona. Got all that?

It was a gorgeous ceremony, help in the chapel of a medieval castle on the Mediterranean coast. While I certainly did not understand every bit of the service, I was impressed by the way this wedding expressed the Christian Faith. Indeed, while we may not think about it at the time, all weddings are an opportunity for teaching, testimony, and witness. In our world, we call that an opportunity for formation.

A Blessing for Vacation Bible School

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There’s a large banner on the church around the corner from my house, “Vacation Bible School: Monday, June 30th. 6:30pm. All Welcome!” My corner church is like many this summer: actively engaging the children in their community by teaching them songs and bible verses and sending them home each day with a taste of God’s […]

Bring the Bible to Life with a Human-Size Board Game


Imagine your class playing a board game where the board is the floor of a large room and your students are the game pieces! Sounds like fun? Well – here is how to create a learning experience disguised as fun. Determine the “journey” that will be the theme of your game. Some examples might be, […]

Loud Pipes (and Jesus) Save Lives – Blessing the Bikes at St. Peter’s

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This past Pentecost Sunday, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Kasson, MN, celebrated a Blessing of the Bikes. After the recessional hymn we followed the Cross outside to the front of the church, where we gathered for a prayer together before blessing the riders and their bikes. After another prayer together the riders started up their bikes and revved the engines – the sound was like church bells.

*We* are the Literal Heart of Jesus: what it means to engage in lifewide Christian formation

Author John Green signs autographs in the Literal Heart of Jesus, St Paul's Pittsburgh, while filming The Fault in Our Stars.

A month ago Building Faith published a pre-review of the young adult novel-turned hit movie The Fault in Our Stars. Author Lisa Brown, communications director and children’s minister at St Paul’s, where parts of the movie were filmed, was insistent that formation leaders could use this very real, very popular movie to connect to the lives of its […]

New Formation Resource Connects Church and Home – Milestones Ministry Manual

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Milestones Ministry Manual, a recently updated resource to help congregations, homes and communities live into the principles of lifelong, lifewide formation, is now available from Vibrant Faith Ministries as a download or in hardcopy and CD. The resource provides a model for connecting faith practices with life experiences.

The purpose of the program is to promote Christian formation and outreach into the larger community. It comes from Vibrant Faith Ministries, whose vision for passing on faith “places children of all ages in the center of the church’s concern and sees God’s redeeming work at play through home, congregation, community, culture, and creation.”

How to Write an Ordination Card – Five Tips

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Yesterday was the feast of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit is moving! This is also the time of year when there tend to be a good many ordinations (when someone becomes a deacon, priest, pastor, minister, bishop – depending on your denomination). Your presence at an ordination is a powerful witness of support. Then there is the question: do I bring a gift? A card? Well, a gift is usually not necessary. But a card is wonderful. What to say? Here are five tips to point you in the right direction.

A Call to Worship for the Day of Pentecost

photo taken by Ram Viswanathan

            Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Renew the face of the earth. Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Renew our lives, inside and out. Renew our faith, renew our relationships, renew our trust in your mercy. Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Renew our lives, inside and out. Challenge us, comfort us, stir us up, […]