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Angelina's New Job Title

It has been one of the delights of my life to journey with people of all ages in their faith formation. I began professional ministry work over fifteen years ago and when I began, the way people are discipled in the local church setting was already undergoing its most recent massive shift. The questions of how we pass on the stories, practices and traditions of our faith have been answered differently from generation to generation. Our lives are shaped by our understanding of ourselves, our interactions with other people, and the social and cultural structures in which we live. As a result, with each generation we get to ponder and respond to the question "What is the Good News of Jesus Christ in this time, and this place, for these people?"

And almost always the answer to that question involves letting go of structures that served our people in the past to make space for what will serve our people today. 

Prior to my renewal leave last year, I asked Pastor Heather and Pastor Alexa, in consultation with SPRC, to review and adjust my job description to bring more of my time, energy and focus into supporting the spiritual lives of children, youth and their grownups, as well as their connections to the local church. As a result, my work at the church is shifting: my ministry will be directed towards supporting the faith journey of those families with children and teens already in our midst and laying the groundwork to support families with children and teens in the years to come. As I've stepped back from some of my previous work, my responsibilities with the discipling of adults have been and continue to be ably overseen and supported by Pastor Alexa and Pastor Heather, as well as the Discipleship Ministries Team and the various wonderful people who have said yes to leading Affinity Nights and other church activities. I am so thankful that there is such a deep pool of people excited to share their gifts and talents with our church family. 

I have heard more than once in my career that children and youth are the "church of tomorrow." And I join the response from children, youth, and those who serve them that children and youth are the "church of today" just as much as anyone else of any age. They and their grownups deserve our best efforts in supporting their spiritual development and their connection to the local church, recognizing that this support will be shaped differently than it has been in the past. 

What it looks like to move with families with children and teens in their spiritual lives can mean a lot of things. It means offering faith formation on Sunday mornings that is accessible and meaningful to a child who is there weekly, monthly, only when visiting grandparents, or is stepping inside a church building for the first time. It means involving children and teens in the worshipping life of the congregation as liturgists, acolytes and communion stewards. It means creating spaces outside of Sunday mornings where children, teens and their grownups can gather to grow in faith and build community amongst one another and with the broader church family in ways that make sense for them. It means going to where they are: attending their games, recitals or delivering a hot meal when someone is sick or needs a break. It means advocating for them and with them in the public sphere around those issues that impact their daily lives: food and housing insecurity, childcare insecurity, gun violence, homophobia and transphobia, and climate change, to name just a few. 

To be a church that welcomes, connects and affirms families with children and teens and the many forms those families have, requires intentional time, focus and commitment. This is not the work of one individual and cannot be accomplished without the efforts of the whole congregation. And so, I ask for your prayers and for you to ponder how your gifts of time and presence may join with me to do this holy work.

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