As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
As the Psalmist says, there is a great thirst in the human soul
for connection with the Divine, for a deeper relationship with God.
It is through this deepening relationship with God
that Christians experience transformation
from lives focused elsewhere
to lives of loving God and all of God’s creation,
including others and ourselves.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Lee
For many, many years Adult Christian Formation has been a jewel in Plymouth’s crown of ministries. The Rev. Dr. Mark Lee served as our Adult Director of Christian Formation for eleven years before going back into full-time pastoral ministry in June 2020. Before him came the Rev. Julie Mavity-Maddelena and Alice Clark. Robust Adult Christian Formation has been vital at Plymouth since way before Rev. Hal Chorpenning became Senior Minister and that was 20 years ago now! It is a hallmark of our faith community of worship, learning and service.
When Mark Lee left us, it was the height of the pandemic lockdown. All of the Adult Formation programming was on Zoom: Zoom Adult Forums on Sunday mornings and Zoom study groups during the week. At that time, Plymouth added 8 hours to my 20 hour a week schedule to lead adult formation study group programming. Hal took on staff liaison work with the Visiting Scholar Team. We have been attempting to fill Mark’s shoes ever since. Big shoes to fill! Mark was paid for 16 hours a week; but I know he regularly put in 20, at least. Hal and I do not have an extra 10 hours a piece on top of ministerial duties. Still, Plymouth managed to keep things going throughout these crazy years of pandemic programming, even hosting two wonderful Visiting Scholar weekends on Zoom in 2020-2021. We made it through because of so many lay volunteers. MANY, MANY THANKS
As most of you know, I will be retiring from parish ministry at the end of February 2023. And I want to leave Plymouth with the infrastructure for continuing its long-standing, robust Adult Christian Formation programming. At this point, our staffing plans at Plymouth do not include another Director of Adult Christian Formation due to budget concerns. Our ministerial staff will be back to two full-time ministers after I leave and there is no room in their job portfolios for hands-on adult formation leadership.
So …. what is up with Adult Formation programming now?! We are rebuilding!
How will it continue? With the guidance of the Christian Formation Board and with YOUR HELP! Lay organizational leadership will be imperative to keep Adult Formation up and running. I am working with the CF Board to organize one new ministry team, reorganize another and support a third existing one so Adult Formation programming will continue with high standards even with less staff input. The two full-time ministers will be available for content consultation.
Here is the proposed plan:
And….plans are in the works for this coming fall. There will be Adult Forum and at least one study group on Sunday mornings and perhaps more study groups during the week. I am hoping to gather two groups at different times to study Brian McLaren’s new book, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, the Disillusioned. (I am almost finished with the book. It is inspiring and enlightening!) And Brian will be with those study groups for an hour of online consultation on Sunday afternoon, September 25! More on Brian McLaren and the fall Adult Formation programming in next week’s reflection! Stay tuned!
And with you on the journey,
* A Huge Thanks to all the volunteers who have sustained Adult Christian Formation since the pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Mea Culpa for anyone I forgot!!
2020-2021 Visiting Scholar Team
Pat Slentz, chair
Adult Forum Team
Book Study Volunteers
Sara and Peter Mullarkey
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. She will be retiring in February, 2023.