Thursday, July 26, 2018

Snapshots from July 21st's Thrive! Gathering

Over 30 people representing more than fifteen communities visited St. Francis House this past Saturday for Thrive, an annual gathering of children's, youth, and young adult ministry leaders from across the Diocese of Milwaukee. The goal of this summer gathering is to connect leaders, build bridges from our the areas where we spend our time (for example, junior high Sunday school) to consider where students come to us from and where they go next in order to be present to the whole of a student's lifelong formation, and resource each other, firmly convinced that the wisdom is in the room. 

This year's guest speaker was Melissa Droessler, founding co-director at Isthmus Montessori Academy and Isthmus Montessori Academy Public. She engaged us with dynamic teaching and conversation around the four planes of human development and talked with us about preparation of environment and ourselves. 

Wonderfully, we are developing a strong network of folks with a heart for children and youth and formation in the Church. If you would like to learn more or become a part of this network, please send me a note to let me know.

What follows are some photos from the day, a note from an attendee, and some resources that came up in the course of the afternoon session. I hope they are helpful to you! We are already making initial plans for next year's gathering. If you would like to receive info about that event, send me a note at the above link.

Very best, and God's good peace,
The welcome table!

Deanna Clement leads the gathering in music at our opening worship.

Singing the psalms.

In conversation.

Melissa Droessler was a source of encouragement and challenge.

Among those folks who registered, we had 18 first-time
participants this year and 7 returning.

Attendees were lay and clergy, volunteer and paid, representing
more than 15 different churches across southern Wisconsin.

More of the gathering.

One of the attendees and I wore the same clothes, accidentally.
In such situations, I am told that a photo is required.

From an Attendee...

Dear Jonathan,

Just want to take a minute to thank you and the team and St. Francis House for today's gathering. I found (guest speaker) Melissa (Droessler) to be wonderful and wanted to listen to her speak even more. Even though I am already familiar with the planes of development from my own training in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (and I've even taught others about it) her talk was still informative and helpful. And I particularly loved the session on the work of the adult and the adult's preparation before heading into the "classroom." These thoughts were exactly the encouragement, and the kick in the pants, that I needed to help me gear up for teaching in the fall. Please thank her for me. If she's open to the conversation, I'd love to follow-up with her on a few things/questions that came to mind during her talks. 

Thanks again for putting this event together. I believe strongly in the importance of working together throughout the diocese to strengthen each of us individually, and all of our parishes corporately, as we work toward the common goal of advancing the Gospel. 

Many blessings, 

Additional Resources...

  • Speaker Melissa Droessler talked about the importance of adults learning to be present without interfering in the learning processes of the children with whom we work. This short chapter gives some helpful examples of what this kind of presence might look like while describing a practice useful to classrooms and families alike.
  • Herbie Hancock gives a very practical example of what it means not to judge an effort in a way that can destroy it but to receive offerings in ways that give life:

St. Francis House believes in and knows its unity with children and youth ministries. So each year at this gathering, we offer the following BEGINNING to an imagination for supporting the work you do:
How can St. Francis House support me/my congregation?
• Hosting congregational or diocesan events (lock-ins, youth retreats, vestry retreats - free!)
• SFH’s annual High School Night
• Networking with children’s, youth, and campus ministers across the diocese/state/beyond
• Connecting graduating high school students with campus across the country
• Volunteer opportunities (cooking meals, gardening)
• TaizĂ© spirituality resources

• Brainstorming and trying out ways to be the church outside the walls of the building

Thanks, friends! Maybe we will see you next year!

PS Tremendous thanks to (and for!) this year's planning team: I was joined this year by Ruth Kearly (St. Andrew's, Madison), Sharon Henes (St. Francis House Board Member and St. Dunstan's, Madison), Deanna Clement (St. Dunstan's, Madison), and Jim Eastman (St. Francis House Board Member).

The Dilemma of Enjoying Fountain Pens

is, what happens when one has no more to write? Do I put the pen down or - and what is worse? -
risk flagrant frivolity? Ten pages full of practice signatures anticipating future relevance. But what, in the absence of something clear to say, are the alternatives to autographs that allow me to keep writing? I am not saying, of course, that such is my perpetual state. But it does happen sometimes, this dilemma.

One solution I am continually relearning is to write to sharpen attention to this world and the One who created and indwells it. Untamed observation. Because, as is the case so often, the first dilemma contains within it a second deeper one: the sometimes invisible-to-me presumption that control and certainty are prerequisites to writing well, when the opposite is closer to my experience of the truth. That is to say, that control and certainty have more than suitable replacements in mystery and gratitude is a beautiful gift I keep unwrapping and then forgetting and then reopening again.

To know how it all should go, it turns out, can be a wholly unnecessary burden, for writing.

And maybe also for other things.

2020-21 Annual License Renewal Letter

Each year, just before Advent, I request the Bishop's renewal of my license to serve in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. These annual le...