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Faith formation is an important part of our communal life at Grace. We like to begin early and make it a lifelong process.
Faith Formation for Children (FF4C) is available for grades pre-K through 5th grade. It encompasses Sunday school classes following worship from September through early May, a time for Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the summer, and worship. Faith formation staff is committed to providing a safe and fun environment for children to learn and grow in their life in Christ. Children are also encouraged to participate in our worship life in a variety of age-appropriate ways – collecting the ‘Noisy Offering’, lighting the candles before worship, reading the scriptures, and assisting with communion distribution when they are in the middle elementary years. Participation varies with each child based on age, maturity, interest, and comfort level with being ‘up front.’
Faith Formation for Youth (FF4Y) is offered for youth beginning at 6th grade. This involves some aspects of a traditional catechism program which we have adapted and tailored to meet the hectic lives of youth and their families. We have developed our own curriculum and scope for this phase of faith formation. Class discussion and instruction happens on Sunday mornings following worship. In addition, the youth are required to find ways to give life to their faith by engaging in “Faith Alive” activities. These are described as projects or events in which the youth are serving the neighbor in need, the local or global community, or the congregation. Activities may be accomplished individually or as a group. We consider this learning how to do God’s work of loving and blessing the world through our hands, feet, and heart. Once they have entered their 9th grade year, or any time thereafter, the youth may make a public affirmation of their baptism in worship if they can demonstrate a rudimentary understanding of the faith and its importance in their lives, a novice level proficiency in using the Bible, and a commitment to continue to grow in their life of faith. The of competency in the areas of these milestones is confirmed by the pastor who then recommends them to the council as prepared for the Public Affirmation of Baptism.
Life-long faith formation is important and happens in a variety of ways. Typically, Pastor leads an adult forum or class on Sunday mornings. There are currently two women’s groups who meet monthly to engage in Bible study, conversation, and mutual support and encouragement. Pastor has also offered a weekly Bible study during the day for our retired and older members and evening studies on a periodic basis depending on the calendar and the level of interest. Adults are also encouraged to grow in faith through worship and an active engagement in worship, the ministries of the congregation, and their involvement in serving neighbors and the community apart from the congregation. Even congregation council meetings are an opportunity for faith formation as we begin meetings with either a brief Bible study or other means of discipleship development. Even conversations over coffee or in casual conversations in the hallway or Gathering Ara are opportunities to reflect on and re-form our faith.