I’m so excited to announce that Craig Bielke will be our Director of Faith Formation and Care. We are blessed that he will be leading our comprehensive Christian education program and continue visiting our members both homebound and in hospitals.
I think the term “faith formation” is new to many congregations. I believe the first time that I heard the term was in seminary and learned more about this when I attended a United Church of Christ (UCC)-sponsored Christian education conference a few years ago.
The UCC explains “faith formation” on their website. They state the following: “Faith formation is at the heart of what the Christian life is all about. In many ways, we engage in the practices of our daily lives and rituals of our faith communities—through worship, mission, working for justice and peace, evangelism, and education—so that our faith may be nurtured, enlivened, sustained, and formed. In this regard, the imagery offered by the prophet Isaiah of Potter God forming humanity, God's created own, is an appropriate vision for how we might view the ministry of faith formation.”
Developing our faith goes well beyond a Sunday school class, a Tuesday morning Bible study or monthly book study. We grow in our faith, our knowledge and our wisdom based on everything that happens inside this church (and during the rest of our lives). What do photos of Jesus look like and how does that convey a theological representation of Jesus? When we treat our neighbors with radical hospitality, how do they understand the God that abides with them? The lyrics to the songs we sing on Sunday mornings can be teachable moments as well. And when we participate in outreach and hand out information that states “No matter who you are and where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here,” we hope that people begin to understand our God loves everyone just as they are.
I’m always excited to see Christian education as something well beyond a study. Because God is with us in each moment, God is using many moments each day to help us grow and continue to form us just like clay. We never stop forming as long as we are living here on this earth. God will use whatever God can use to stretch us in new ways. We are excited for a staff like Craig who will continue to care for our congregation and help us see God from new angles - carrying on where Tyler Kohrs is leaving off. We are blessed by Dr. Tristan Frampton, our Interim Choir Director, who will lead the choir and will help us to understand our faith in new ways. We are blessed by Donna Young, our new Receptionist, whose voice will help us to welcome people in the spirit of Jesus the Christ. Everything we do helps our congregants and community members grow in their faith!