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Christian Formation  
 

2017 Annual Report

Submitted by Theresa Belacosa

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The on-going goal of those who minister in Christian Education is to provide opportunities for all members of Trinity Episcopal Church to nurture and develop their faith.

For children: To implement age appropriate lessons and activities that teach and proclaim the Gospel message.  Formal Christian Education classes follow the academic school year (September – June) and attendance each Sunday morning averages between 20 – 25 students. 
Curriculum for Pre-K through 5th/6th grade: The core curriculum used by our youngest children (pre-k and kindergarten) through grades 5/6 is Living the Good News. Published by Cokesbury, LTGN offers developmentally appropriate material for each grade level and allows our youngsters to explore the Sunday Scriptures very much in accord with their individual learning styles. This program allows all of our children to listen and/or read and discuss the lessons specific to any given Sunday and also provides them (and their teachers) the opportunity to seek and find ways to make the Word of God a living reality in their everyday lived experience. Godly Play remains an integral part of our pre-k through grades 2/3 curricula and, throughout the grades, the use of imagination and play is thoughtfully encouraged.

For youth: To provide a safe and nurturing environment where they can discover and explore their faith. Our primary curriculum for our young people in grades 6/7 through 9/10 is Journey to Adulthood.  This program encourages young people to engage in conversation about self, society, sexuality and spirituality within a safe environment whose boundaries are confidentiality and trust.  Living the Good News (Young Teen) is used as a supplemental text to familiarize these young people more deeply with Sacred Scripture.  Our Confirmands are engaged in two sources for reflection – My Faith, My Life (Jenifer Gamber) and I Will With God’s Help (Mary Wile). Most of the “work” of this group, however, occurs in faith-filled conversation and dialogue that is continually supported by their Confirmation mentor.  This component of faith formation is not unique to the Confirmation group but occurs in all of our classrooms and at every age level.  Trinity is blessed beyond measure in our Church School teachers!
As a point of interest, in May of 2017, three of our young adults were Confirmed at Trinity, Torrington; in October two of our youngsters celebrated their Rite 13 Liturgy and, in December, four young people were enrolled as catechumens and began their formal time of discernment as they prepare for Confirmation in 2019!

Outreach, Stewardship, Worship and Christian Education: It is always our prayerful intention that the religious instruction of our children and young people remain connected to the vision, mission and ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church, Collinsville as well as to that of the larger Church community that extends beyond our walls. To that extent, we encourage and empower our children and young people to take leadership roles in Sunday Eucharist as well as other special liturgies throughout the year. Our “Family Worship Sunday” experience has not only continued but has become, since September 2017, a monthly occurrence. Our youngsters volunteer and experience what it means to minister to their faith community as lectors, intercessors, choir members and usher/greeters.  In addition, stewardship, community service and mission experiences continue as expectations not only for the adult members of our faith community but for our children and young people as well. We intentionally discern how and where Christ might be inviting us to be His hands, His feet and His love in our sometimes-broken world. Our Lenten Bake Sale supported Camp Hispaniola: we continue our commitment to the clients of Church Street Eats however we are able – whether that be by collecting warm winter socks or serving a meal: some of our youngsters are now joining with their parents and other members of the adult community in packing the brown bag lunches that are part of Trinity’s quarterly commitment to “Church by the Pond”: several of our young people attended Heads Up! Hartford at the end of June and all of the proceeds from our 2017 Christmas Bake Sale, along with whatever is raised through our Advent mite box collection, will be sent to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem as they seek to serve the poorest of God’s children in the land where Jesus walked.

For adults: To offer regular and special programs that enlighten and expand their understanding and love for Christ in their lives.  Although a challenge at times, providing programs and experiences that meet the varied needs and desires of the adult members of Trinity remains a constant Gospel mandate. Throughout 2017, we continued to offer such programs as weekly Scripture Study groups, book discussions on topics critical to on-going adult Christian formation, quiet hours, a Lenten Silent Retreat at Holy Cross Monastery and four Friday evening Lenten soup suppers that provided invaluable opportunities for faith sharing and fellowship. In 2017, the theme for these four evenings was Come and See. (Can a Lenten Discipline be Fun?) - Movie Night with Jesus. To encourage family attendance, child care continued to be offered.  Finally, each faith formation teacher is responsible for classroom preparation and that is, in and of itself, a wondrous opportunity for the deepening of their own journey with God.  It is my joy and privilege to walk that journey with them and to assist, with God’s help -  as I am needed and able.

I am extremely grateful to all those who support us in remaining faithful to the vision and mission of Jesus Christ – our adults, children, young people, Church School teachers, Sunday Morning Coordinators, the members of the Christian Education Committee and the Rev. Linda Spiers, our rector. We are grateful that God has chosen us to teach as Jesus did – with love, compassion and commitment to and for all God’s people. We believe that Christian formation is a lifelong process where the secular and sacred become one in Christ’s love - through the grace of God.  Amen.

Respectfully submitted,
Theresa Bellacosa, Minister of Christian Formation


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