Remembering Our Baptismal Vows to Nurture the Faith of Our Children

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BY BETH HAYES |

As we broke into the verse of “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” that says “He’s got the itty little baby in his hands…” the image of our three newest additions to Come and Worship came to mind. There is no better time to reflect on the baptismal vows we make as a community and how we help these young families raise their children in their first Christian family.

Come and Worship families

We presented each family with a copy of Loving Hearts United: A Moravian Guide to Family Living and added copies of our favorite Bible stories. The Covenant for Christian Living says this about baptism:

“As parents, remembering that our children are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and take all possible care to preserve them from every evil influence. For this reason we will seek to approve ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, setting an example for our children. We will give faithful attention to the spiritual development of our children, both in the home and in the church.”

Our response doesn’t end at this point. We pledge to join with families as communities of God to be there and offer help to parents in faith formation. It takes more than families to guide in this process, it takes more than individual churches to guide in this process, and it takes more than Provincial programming to guide in this process. We have to work together in constant and abiding love to nurture children, youth, and even adults in their faith journey. This experience will be that much richer if we do this together as individuals, congregations, and as a Province.

Not every church is fortunate to have a staff person dedicated to leading faith formation. This is one of many areas in which the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) can assist. In our mission statement, it is listed as our job to help congregations as they and their congregants walk the continuous faith journey. We provide events and workshops on a provincial level so that all churches have access to the resources that will help us in doing this work as a team. Our denomination is much richer for having this programming to help in faith formation and the growth of the Unity. Be sure to take advantage of opportunities that come your way and pass the word on about these opportunities. Join the Roots and Wings Facebook page to stay informed and see some of the best resources and activities for supporting faith formation. Visit our lending library online (Resource.Moravian.org) or in person and check out many helpful resources as you go on this continuous journey.

There are many ways to help in the faith journey, including, but not limited to:

  • Being a table parent at a midweek meal
  • Teaching a Sunday school class
  • Being a youth leader
  • Helping caregivers in your community
  • Joining the Children and Family Task Force of the Moravian BCM

When you prayerfully consider helping in one of those ways or another, remember the baptismal vows and give opportunities to serve some consideration. This is the way to grow our Moravian congregations healthily, where people of all ages can grow together as children of God’s community.


If you have questions or need additional information, email BHayes@MCSP.org or call the Resource Center at (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes portrait

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). 


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Summer Camp and Faith Formation

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BY BETH HAYES | 

Many of us have had those mountaintop experiences at a camp or retreat. I am no exception. As I reflected on my faith formation journey a couple years ago, it included camps and retreats from my childhood experiences at Camp New Hope (a PCUSA camp outside Chapel Hill), to Montreat (in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains), to Laurel Ridge (the Moravian Camp and Conference Center). It is impossible to replace these experiences; these high moment experiences, where so much growth in one’s faith takes place. A recent article on the Building Faith website, The Lasting Impact of Summer Camp, spoke volumes to me: “campers at these camps are immersed in a faith-forming environment in which the songs, games, and activities become part of a theological playground. They do not just study God or take in information about God, as they might be asked to do in confirmation class or listening to a sermon in church. Instead, they experience a life that is caught up with and dependent on God’s ongoing activity in the world.”

Recently Mandy Petersen, of Friedberg Moravian Church, commented on a photo Laurel Ridge posted on Facebook: Sanctuary is the song I sing to myself to calm down if I’m having a particularly anxious moment or having trouble falling asleep. To me, this picture embodies Sanctuary and the safe warm memories of singing it at camp. 💚💚 I just wanted to take this moment and say thanks for all the beautiful memories I have of camp!”

Laurel Ridge photo

The photo that appeared on Laurel Ridge’s page. Photographer unknown. Photo is likely from Senior High Camp, summer of 2016.

A lot of ministry leaders and professionals have had their lives impacted positively and their life perspective changed for the better by camp experiences like Laurel Ridge. Read the whole article from the Building Faith website and I think it will cause you to ponder on those spiritual formation experiences in your life. The experiences had a major impact on you, and were truly great… but think a little deeper. Why did they have such an impact? These experiences are also about the important relationships built at camp or vacation bible school.

Beth at Laurel Ridge

Beth Hayes at the Laurel Ridge labyrinth.

From the Vibrant Faith website is this wonderful insight on relationships: “many of our leaders are so busy running churches and living up to expectations that they have little time for deep, life-giving relationships of their own–for their own souls. We experienced a profound change in people after they had the opportunity to have conversations that connected them with others… Relationships are the soil for the formation of faith. Leaders need them as much (perhaps more) than the people they serve. They are the music of life. Take time for the relationships of your life. Take time to generate and nurture them.”

Take time, especially this month, as camps begin, to pray for Laurel Ridge. Pray for the campers, staff, volunteers, and ministry that takes place there. Be sure to give the leaders and staff an extra thanks for the positive influence that they have had on your personal faith journey.

Laurel Ridge overlook


If you have questions or need additional information, email bhayes@mcsp.org or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Below, Beth appears with her sister, aunt, and cousin along with the family Bible.  

Looking at a Bible

Moravians Growing in Faith, Love, and Hope

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BY BETH HAYES | 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol. Write them on your house’s door frames and on your city’s gates. -Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (CEB)

These words from Deutoronomy speak volumes to me. When I get requests in the Resource Center for resources to teach our children about our Moravian heritage, I am reminded of this verse. There are several fine resources I point older youth and adults to, and soon, there will be another fine resource for Moravians of all ages.

books

The Eastern District of the Moravian Church’s Northern Province saw a need for a new curriculum to guide churches in learning Moravian history and to provide meaning for today’s Moravians. They invited the Moravian Church’s Southern Province to join forces to create a multi-aged curriculum focusing on Moravian history with an emphasis of looking to the future. An interprovincial team worked to design the various elements and then contracted with Margaret Norris (now the Director of Christian Education at Home Moravian Church) to manage the project. She worked with a team of writers that included Karen Wilson, Marie Couts, Tricia Everett, Carol Foltz, Sam Gray, Justin Rabbach, and Denny Rohn. After a thorough review by several Moravian theologians, educators, and scholars, we are preparing to unveil it. Called Living Branches: Moravians Growing In Faith, Love, and Hope, this 13-week curriculum written for younger elementary, older elementary, youth, and adult groups will soon be available online. We will also, for a reasonable price, make available printed copies for congregations who need to access it this way. The Southern Province is currently developing a five-day Vacation Bible School model to supplement this curriculum.

Come step into the Moravian world! Ours is a past full of “living branches” – those faithful guiding figures who have led us since the 15th century. These witnesses to the Lamb were not only pioneers in their generations, they also provide inspiration to lead us through our present into our best future. We’ll explore the Moravian Church’s roots, starting with Hus and his peers, and travel the road to the present. We will take stops along the way, visiting Comenius and the “Hidden Seed,” Herrnhut’s revitalized church, and our bold missionaries. We will untangle different periods of history as we move into the future of the Moravian Church, with our past to inform and guide us.

The curriculum design team wanted age-appropriate as well as topically-based curriculum. Therefore, we have arranged these pieces in a 13-week Sunday School model. Additionally, we have coordinated the sessions’ topics so that a particular time period or historical figure can be studied by all ages. For example, if the Moravian Church is celebrating the birth of the Unitas Fratrum, the curriculum pieces that reflect that time in our history can be pulled out and studied by children through adult.

books

We are excited this project is nearly complete. Soon churches will be able to teach this rich Moravian history to all ages. As the Deuteronomy passage emphasizes, we must never forget the importance of passing our faith through generations.

Here are a few ways you can use the Moravian curriculum:

  • in place of your regular curriculum for a quarter, (You’ll need to plan ahead and give Beth Hayes plenty of notice!)
  • with your current curriculum at the beginning or end of a session,
  • as a summer Sunday School option,
  • as a week day Kids’ Club option,
  • as Vacation Bible School curriculum,
  • for a Confirmation Class,
  • in your New Member (or Inquirers’) Class, or
  • as part of a weekly Bible study (especially the adult program).

The list could go on and on. Plan to use it to best fit your needs. Get on board and help Moravians of all ages grasp the heritage and beauty of this faith.


If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). 

Beth Hayes portrait

 

Milestones as Stepping Stones in Your Faith Journey

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BY BETH HAYES | 

Milestones as Stepping Stones in Your Faith Journey

I just returned from a symposium in Connecticut done by Lifelong Faith Associates on families at the center of faith formation. It was quite the experience to be in a beautiful fall setting where leaders in churches from different denominations gathered to brainstorm. In our brainstorming, we planed ways for our congregations to celebrate family and help families to be more intentional about faith formation in their homes. More and more I realize that faith formation is not solely a congregational responsibility nor totally a home responsibility, but the two places working together.

The conference gave me many things to ponder, but most helpful was a reintroduction to “milestones ministry.” It is an essential tool for faith formation in the twenty-first century. Simply put, this ministry nurtures Christian faith, strength, and relationships. In churches and homes, it provides a way to reach out to others with the love of God in very simple and practical ways for all generations. Visit the website milestoneministry.org to read and learn more about church and home being vital places in the world. It is based on five important principles:

  • Faith is formed through relationships. Milestones Ministry brings a cross generational community together to nurture the Christian faith.
  • It is a primary partnership between the ministry of the home and the ministry of the congregation. Each module helps people practice faith with the support of a congregation and in and through ones homes.
  • It honors home as church too. It lifts up daily life relationships, especially parents and other adult mentors.
  • Faith is caught more than it is taught. It models the faith through cross generational experiences and faith practices.
  • If we want Christian children and youth, we need Christian adults around them.

There are five steps to generate a specific milestone memory. You need to first name it – identify meaningful, memorable moments. Then you need to equip it – provide faith practices. A blessing comes next as you offer a prayer. It needs a visual reminder… so gift it. The last step is to reinforce it, by following up to firmly root it in faith.

Children's Festival

Children’s Festival and Lovefeast. August 2016. Photo by Suzy Tucker.

About two years ago, the Children and Family task force produced a piece called Moravian Milestones and Stars. We visited every Regional Conference of Churches and gave a notebook to each church to have. Included are age level breakdowns of what Moravians could be expected to know at each age level. The second half of the piece is a resource from Milestones Ministries where specific milestones such as baptism, mission trips, going off to college, empty nesting and many more are described and ways to celebrate these times both in church and in homes. If you have misplaced the notebook or need another copy, all you need to do is ask me for a replacement.

I have heard some beautiful stories about how milestone ministries are carried out in specific churches. One congregation adorns their hallways leading to the various classrooms with ribbons for each individual. When a milestone is reached and celebrated, a star is placed on the ribbon. Some churches give a bowl or basket at baptism. For each celebration of a specific milestone, a particular stone with the image of that milestone on one side and scripture on the other is given to put in the bowls. An illustration of the rocks is shown. A friend of many of our educators has covenanted to spend her retirement painting these milestone rocks. If you are interested in the rocks, you may contact me and I will put you in touch with Libby Welter or you may email her at libbywelter[AT]gmail.com and tell her what you are wanting.

My next move to encourage our congregations and families is to create some Moravian specific milestones like a first lovefeast, first Easter sunrise service, first Laurel Ridge experience, or first Children’s Festival. You will hear more to come in the next few months as we continue to brainstorm together and create new milestones. Until then, consider beginning this all important ministry in your congregation. You can contact me (Beth Hayes) for help in getting it started. As you continue to see the importance of church and families at home working together, check out the website and Facebook page for Roots and Wings where we will continue to link you to important articles and websites that could be helpful.

And remember this passage from Deuteronomy 6:6-7 as the basis for the importance of this ministry.

 

                                    “Memorize his laws and tell them to your children

                                    Over and over again. Talk about them all the time,

                                    Whether you’re at home or walking along the road

                                    Or going to bed at night or getting up in the morning.”

(Common English Version)


If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Below, Beth appears with her sister, aunt, and cousin along with the family Bible.  

Looking at a Bible

Generations Learning Together

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Our church world is changing. And while the message of Good News is unchanging, we now hear the news in different ways and we are challenged to meet children, youth, and adults where they are, which is not a simple task.

In the 1970s, it was common for families to attend church together every Sunday morning. There were prizes for perfect attendance. Shopping and sports took a back seat to church. Not so in today’s world! Culture and times have changed and the old “we’ve always done it this way” programming in separate age groupings does not always work, particularly in smaller faith communities. How can we use technological advances to help us spread the Gospel more effectively? It is time to let go of our fears… fears of change, or trying something new, of failure, of backlash. Instead, let’s collaborate and innovate by using the tools and gifts God has put before us to proclaim the Good News to a new generation, a new world, a new church. Inter-generational resources allow us to be more inclusive of every age and person in the church, to communicate better, and to help families join with us in the task of faith formation. And while the responsibility requires all of us work together, there are still many ways we as church can help families take steps in faith formation.


Find our inter-generational Sunday school resource at the top of our Additional Resources & Links webpage at MoravianBCM.org. Or just click the links here below!  


In May, several Moravian educators and pastors created a model for congregations willing to take a few risks, to think outside the box, to offer something new and exciting, and to build on some energy. We chose lectionary materials for four Sundays in August as an inter-generational experience where all ages come together, share in small groups of mixed ages, do some intentional Bible Study, and create something unique for the next Sunday. We purposely worked on the passages a week ahead so that this joint creativity could be shared in corporate worship. What became apparent as we began reading these scripture readings was the theme of images of God. The four weeks focus on a different image of God presented in the Scriptures. We created a series of PowerPoint presentations, which can be found on the our website under additional resources. Simply download the files, print or project them and you are ready to go!

Mid-August, we’ll be adding a YouTube video that may be used in the last session, which focuses on the potter and the clay. We’ll film Rodney Stillwell, Forsyth Prison Chaplain, as he tells the biblical story of the potter and clay at the Children’s Festival in Salem Square on August 14. We hope this will be the first of many resources that we can create for congregations when they are ready to try inter-generational Sunday School.

Why is inter-generational ministry such an effective option for churches? The answer is very Moravian! intergenerational Doing ministry with all ages is relational, allowing us to explore Christian relationships that form life-long disciples. A fun, celebratory setting creates an inviting space for these relationships to grow – and sometimes chaos, too! Yummy food, creative decorations, a welcoming atmosphere, and a genuine spirit of loving care all create memorable Family Time. Can you name 3-5 people in the age range of children, youth, and adults that have played significant parts in faith development? Yes, it was easier when much of our social lives revolved around activities at church. These relationships just happened. Now as we look at the way things have changed in churches, we realize that we have to be intentional in planning creative ways for all ages to form lasting, meaningful bonds with each other.

I pray that you claim for your congregation its most important calling: growing followers of Christ through the intentional building up of relationships within the Body. May you find the power of the Holy Spirit during multi-generational meal times. And may you know that God is the source of it all, our help in ages past and our hope for the generations to come. Stop worrying about the way you’ve “always done it” and begin to think of new and engaging ways for all ages to intermingle and form significant relationships. You won’t be sorry.


Beth Hayes portraitIf you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) 

2016 VBS Preview

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APRIL 4, 2016 

“The most important part of a quality VBS program is not the T-shirts or the crafts or catchy skits that open the day. It is the relationships that are formed with the leaders, peers, and with God. Putting our time in the training and nurture of the staff of VBS is more critical than finding inflatable palm trees or the right banner to hang out front.” -Kathy Dawson, Hope4CE

 As we approach the summer and see all the publicity about Vacation Bible School programs, we are reminded how important this experience can be for children. It is one of the few concentrated blocks of time that the church has to do faith formation with a child. Many of you remember the experiences and people who were part of your VBS events long ago. Relationships are the key to a successful Vacation Bible School as youth and adults lend a hand in leading children closer to Christ.

At the end of this post you’ll find the VBS program options set up in our Resource Center earlier this year. We do this each year and then lend kits to committees as they make their choice. My recommendations for the top VBS programs this year are:

  • Water All Around The World published by Living Waters PCUSA Synod,
  • Cokesbury’s Surf Shack, and
  • Group’s Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace.

I am not a fan of expensive glitz and glamor, or making VBS themes biblical but with gimmicky, cutesy things, which is why I chose the three listed as recommendations. The Water All Around The World program provides an economical VBS all in one notebook. The crafts are simple and do not require lots of time gathering things. There are Moravians in all of the highlighted countries, so it is an excellent opportunity to use our supplemental Moravian Mission VBS. Everyone is familiar with the Cokesbury model, a traditional, very teacher friendly program which has been out for several years. They do one a nice job using themes and tying them into biblical stories. Group’s Egypt is a marketplace model that takes you back to marketplaces and journeys of biblical times. This program allows you to easily mix ages or can be done with specific ages.

Here at the Resource Center, we keep a list of which churches are doing what school and when. Churches are often able to share VBS resources and decorations with each other. Come check Vacation Bible School out in the BCM soon! In the meantime, enjoy the photos and overviews of various programs below.

FYI, here are some of the programs being used in 2016:

  • Surf Shack: Highland Presbyterian, Central Moravian, Olivet
  • Cave Quest: Fulp, First Presbyterian Winston Salem, Fairview, Guilford Park Presbyterian, First Presbyterian Greensboro, Great Kills Moravian, and New Dorp Moravian.
  • Water Around the World: Salem Creek RCC
  • Standard Deep Sea Discovery: Grace Moravian
  • Egypt: New Philadelphia, Jamestown Presbyterian, and Unity/Shallowford Presbyterian.
  • Surprised by Love from Mennomedia: Hope Moravian

Cave Quest VBS

VBS Name: CAVE QUEST

Publisher: Group

Theme: Following Jesus The Light of the World

Bible Stories: Prophets fortell light of the world (John 1:1-34), Jesus and Peter walk on water (Matthew 14:22-36), Jesus sheds light on how to live (Matthew 5-7), Jesus dies and comes back to life (Luke 23:1-24:12), Jesus ascends and empowers his followers (Acts 1:1-11)

Music: Music non-reproducible, Sing and Play Music CD

Egypt VBS

VBS Name: EGYPT

Publisher: Group

Theme: Joseph’s Journey from prison to palace

Bible Stories: Joseph interprets dreams (Genesis 40:1-23), Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge (Genesis 41:1-40), Joseph leads Egypt through famine (Genesis 41:41-42), Joseph forgives his brothers (Genesis 42:6-45:15), Joseph settles his family in Egypt (Genesis 45:16-47:27)

Music: Music non-reproducible, Celebration Music CD

Barnyard Roundup

VBS Name: BARNYARD ROUNDUP

Publisher: Concordia Publishing

Theme: Jesus gathers us together

Bible Stories: Jesus the good shepherd (John 10:1-18), Jesus feeds 5000 (Mark 6:30-44), Jesus tells about a sower (Matt 13:1-23), Jesus and the lost son (Luke 15:11-32), Jesus appears to Mary in the garden (John 20:1-10)

Music: Music non-reproducible, Moovin and Groovin Passalong CD

Deep Sea VBS

VBS Name: DEEP SEA DISCOVERY

Publisher: Standard Publishing

Theme: Not only is God with me everywhere I go, but he wants me to go out and share his love with others.

Bible Stories: Noah survives the flood (Genesis 6-9), Jonah prays inside the fish (Jonah 1-3), Peter walks on water (Matthew 14), Jesus appears by the sea (John 21), Paul sets sail to tell God’s story (Acts 13-14)

Music: Music non reproducible, Passalong Music CD

Surf Shack VBS

VBS Name: SURF SHACK

Publisher: Cokesbury

Theme: Catch the wave of God’s amazing love

Bible Stories: Creation (Genesis 1), Miriam cares for Moses (Exodus 2:1-10), baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17), Jesus calms the storm (Luke 8:22-25), breakfast on the beach (John 21:1-17)

Music: Music non-reproducible, Student Take-home CD

Water All Over The World VBS

VBS Name: WATER ALL AROUND THE WORLD

Publisher: Living waters for the world

Theme: Learn how Jesus is Living Water for our bodies and souls

Bible Stories: God sends water to Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21), water from the rock (Exodus 17), Noah and the flood (Genesis 8), baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3), woman at the well (John 4)

Music: Music reproducible

Joy In Jesus VBS

VBS Name: JOY IN JESUS 

Publisher: Abingdon 

Theme: Everywhere All the time

Bible Stories: A room for praise (Psalm 100), a room on a roof (II Kings 4:8-17), a room without a roof (Mark 2:1-12), an upstairs room (Acts 20:7-12) under a roof (Matthew 8:5-11,1)

Music: Music non-reproducible, Student Take-home CD

If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes portrait

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)