Archive for the 'Christian Formation' Category

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Education Opportunities for All Ages

In the Episcopal Church, it’s become customary to talk of “formation” rather than “education.” Christians are made, not born. We are formed in the ways of Christ, a process that involves hearts and hands as well as heads. Formation is lifelong. At Holy Cross, we take formation seriously, trying to offer thoughtful, enjoyable programs for all ages.

Sunday morning formation opportunities at Holy Cross include something for ages 3 through adults. During our formation year (generally early September through Pentecost in May or June), breakfast is served for the whole family beginning at 9:00 a.m. At 9:15, children and youth are invited to their formation programs. Adults lingering over breakfast begin their formation time.

Children’s Programs: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Montessori-based Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is offered to children age 3 to Grade 6 in classrooms (called atriums) located in our old church building. During our formation year, the children enter the atriums at 9:15 a.m. and join the regular service, which begins at 10:00 a.m., at the exchange of the Peace, which is about 10:40 a.m.

Working with the parable of the Good Shepherd

Working with the parable of the Good Shepherd

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd originated in 1954 in Rome, inspired by the Montessori principles of “self-teaching.” This approach to religious education honors the spiritual potential of children and seeks to offer the essentials of the Christian faith in a way that engages and delights them.

An interpersonal relationship is always a mystery, all the more so when that relationship is between God and the child. We believe that there is a deep bond between God and the child which produces in the child the desire to draw near to God.

The role of the catechist — the adult who is with the children in the atrium –is to prepare an environment and to make presentations that call forth the child’s response rather than pour in information. Catechists listen with the child and together ask, “God, who are you? How do you love us?”


A child explores materials in the Level 3 atrium.

A child explores materials in the Level 3 atrium.


The catechist is a co-wonderer with the children as they together enjoy meditating on the questions generated by the Scriptures with the materials in the atrium as a developmental aid.

To read more about our children’s formation program, follow check out the Website of the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Anne McCausland is the catechist in the Level 3 Atrium, which is for ages 9-12, Laura Arvin is the catechist for Level 2, ages 6-9, and Laura Starr-Houghton is the catechist for the Level 1 Atrium, age 3-6.

Adult Formation at Holy Cross

Sunday Mornings

Each Sunday, after the 9:00 am breakfast and before the service begins at 10:00 am, a special time is set aside for the adults to ponder, learn, pray and plan. We speak of formation, rather than education, at Holy Cross because Christians are made, not born. Our journey into the fullness of Christ, into understanding ourselves and God’s love and purpose for us, is lifelong. So this Adult Forum time is an important part of our Sunday mornings. The topics we touch on are varied. They’re usually stand-alone, which means you aren’t going to “fall behind” if you aren’t able to make a Sunday.


This year we’ve been spending a lot of time on getting to feel comfortable with the Bible, using as a resource Marcus Borg’s Reading the Bible Again for the First Time. During Lent, we took a breather from this study to talk about the ways in which the fear and anxiety gripping the world today, much of it hyped by our exposure to media, erodes our sense of being grounded as people of God. How could we develop Lenten practices that help us renew an appreciation of our wholeness? What is the role of silence, of simplicity, of sabbath in our lives? In May, we turn to a comprehensive review of our liturgy and worship, with the adult discussion times devoted to this area of our life.

We don’t seek one-size-fits-all answers at Holy Cross. We open questions, share experience, and search for ways to apply the wisdom of Scripture and Christian tradition to our very modern lives.

After breakfast adults enjoy learning and discussion over coffee.

After breakfast adults enjoy learning and discussion over coffee.

 Other Programs

From time to time we also offer special adult formation programs at other times. These may include Saturday workshops and weekday evening series. See Happenings Now for information about what may be going on currently.

Nursery Age Children

Children and young families are at the center of our ministry at Holy Cross.

Children and young families are at the center of our ministry at Holy Cross.

Coming to church if you have little kids is, we know, a struggle. We do everything we can to make it comfortable for both the children and their parents. Instead of providing a separate nursery, we’ve been having success with a “Godly play” area set aside in one corner at the back of our Worship Space. There children play quietly on a rug with soft toys, puzzles and picture books oriented to religious themes. Their parents sit right there. Continue reading ‘Nursery Age Children’