When was the last time you gathered with several hundred colleagues in ministry? Forma, a ministry of ECF, held its 2021 conference January 26-28. For the first time, it was a wholly digital gathering and had its highest number of attendees ever. The theme, Embodying Spiritual Practices, charted a course through The Way of Love practices. We explored what it means to turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest as individuals and how to encourage and teach these disciplines in our congregations.
Presenters included lay and ordained formation professionals and volunteers. Workshops were planned with participants’ breadth of ministry contexts in mind. Rather than “tracking” attendees’ courses for them, participants could apply the ideas presented to their personal congregation or ministry groups, regardless of ministry focus. Here is a sampling of the highlights -
- Barry Randolph’s experience shows how formation, evangelism, and mission work together in ministry, and that miracles can happen, but only when you live into the Gospel. He says, “We’ve gotta get out of the building and take the Gospel into the street and be the people who actually help to heal this country.” Watch here.
- Tricia Lyons reminds us that evangelism is a way of life for everyone, not just the extroverted. Her contagious enthusiasm for God’s redemptive work pushes us to “go big (by connecting our imaginations with epic examples of sacramental living and mission) AND go home (as we dig deep into our ancient, monastic, medieval, modern, and post-colonial Anglican theologies of mission).” Watch here.
- Ian Lasch offers some thoughts on expanding our thinking around fasting... It’s not just for Lent, and it can be life-giving. Watch here.
- Kathy Culmer mesmerizes and moves us with her storytelling and suggestions on “Learning and Telling Biblical Stories as a Spiritual Discipline.” Watch here.
Our programming working group invited presenters with diversity of voices in mind, and while this year’s presenters reflect the diversity of the Episcopal Church, we recognize that there are still some voices we aren’t hearing. Do you have a story to tell or an experience to share? Let us know! We are always looking for more contributors for our conferences, webinars, and Vital Practices blogs.
As we pursue our goal to lower the threshold for accessing ministry resources, we offered an institutional registration option to dioceses, provinces, and seminaries. As a result, hundreds of registrants attended the Forma conference for the first time. Our next goal is to offer more content in Spanish or translated into Spanish, similar to our Spanish Leadership Initiative track at Rooted in Jesus in 2020.
We are grateful to all those who have supported the work of this conference and ECF’s ongoing work in the field of Christian formation, and we acknowledge the financial contributions to the work of the conference from Membership Vision, Second Breath Center, Church Publishing, Bexley Seabury Seminary, Episcopal Evangelism Society, Episcopal Relief & Development, and Try Tank, a joint project of Virginia Theological Seminary and the General Theological Seminary.
Want to be a part of our support for formation in the Episcopal Church? Give online here to our Annual Fund or contact Bill Campbell, Director of Institutional Advancement at ECF for more opportunities.