Adult Formation

Fall 2019 "Reading the Gospel of Matthew"                              Menu for Adult Formation                                              Resources                                                            Adult Retreat 2020

Reading the Gospel of Matthew (2019 online course)

Reading the Gospel of Matthew with Deirdre Good was a three week Zoom class preparing for Lectionary Readings in Year A (2019-20). The syllabus along with some of the course recordings are below. Questions? Please email .
Reading the Gospel of Matthew Year A
Diocese of Maine Zoom online course
Deirdre Good
September 26, Oct 3, Nov 7 or 14, 2019  6-7pm 
An exploration of the Gospel of Matthew, noting structure, Jewish identity, and teachings with an eye to Year A Lectionary Readings (2019-2020). Attention is given to Matthew’s theological, and congregational/ecclesial significance, particularly for preaching, and its understandings of Christology, discipleship, and mission.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to the syllabus and other class materials. 

Matthew reading


Course Outline

Class 1: Introduction, Matthew 1-2: Genealogy and Birth Narrative
Class 2:  Matthew 3-7 Preparation and Epitome of Teaching (Sermon on the Mount)
a) The Lord’s Prayer (handout of the text), see also:
b) Meekness (Mt 5:5; see handouts on meekness, and chapters from my book Jesus the Meek King)
c) Matthew’s teaching material: 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 23-15 


Class 3: Discipleship & Community; Trial, Death & Resurrection
*CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE RECORDING OF THE FINAL CLASS*                                  
a) Matthew 13 Parables & Matthew 14-16 Disciples;
b) Matthew 17-20 Community; Matthew 21-23 Jerusalem
c) Matthew 26-28 Passion Narrative and Resurrection 

Matthew & Parables:  

Using Zoom
The Diocese of Maine Zoom account is the platform we will use for this class. To use Zoom, you need a computer with a webcam and a good internet connection. Before the class I will email you information so that you can log into Zoom and this particular class.  
Gospel of Matthew (NRSV text)
Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading: A Socio-Political and Religious Reading (Orbis, 2013).
Please note: it will be helpful if you have an NRSV Bible with you during the seminar. This is a standard Bible translation, and the one that is usually used on Sundays in Episcopal churches. It is published by many different companies, using different cover art and sometimes with annotations.  If you are interested in an annotated version, the one Deirdre Good recommends is The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Fifth Edition (2018).  


Menu for Adult Formation

When you plan adult formation for your congregation, create options.  Think in terms of a Menu for Adult Formation. Have goals and a big picture.

It's important to think about: Why does formation matter?  Formation should be more than just information-sharing. In the words of Bishop Jeff Lee, who spoke to the Maine clergy, "Formation is about conversion.  It's about having your heart broken ... It's about feeding and nurturing people."  

It's important to ask: What are our goals for this year?  One church answered this by saying: "Our goals for adult formation are: half-way decent biblical literacy, basic theology and to enable everyone to tell their own story in a way that's authentic and inviting."  Another group said: "Our goal is for everyone to know the arc of the biblical story, to connect it with your own life stories, to see God's activity in your life and to be comfortable talking about it."

Also think about: Who comes to formation programs?  If the same dozen people will come regardless of what you offer or what name you give it, then the real question for your church is: How do we reach everyone else?

It's important to think about more than just classes and programs.  To borrow a phrase from Rev. Tim Schenk, the heart of the next question is: What should be on our Formation Buffet? 

Here are some ideas:

 Formation programs - classes and events
 Liturgy as formation
 Reflecting together after activities. 
 Formation happens through all the communication you use - newsletters, bulletins, art, pictures on the walls.
 Formation to go - at home use of websites 

Resource Exchange 

Here are resources recommended by Maine clergy and others.

The Way of Love

The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry are constantly adding resources to The Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life .  hese resources are eclectic and free.  
More than a program or curriculum, The Way of Love is an intentional commitment to a set of practices –Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest – that form us into the likeness of Jesus. Congregations have engaged with Way of Love practices by organizing ministry fairs around the seven practices, setting up semi-public prayer stations with one station per practice, and organizing inquirer’s classes around each topic.
There are resources available or planned for each season of the year, as well as some that can be used anytime. If your ministry has developed a Way of Love resource, the Presiding Bishop invites you to "share it at  so that it can be included on the website and aid others on our shared journey into new life." 

NEW Way of Love curriculum for small groups available November 2019

The Episcopal Church is offering a new resource for congregations interested in following the Way of Love as a way of life.  New this fall, the Living the Way of Love in Community curriculum is designed for small groups that may choose to meet weekly, every other week, or once a month. The facilitation guide offers leaders a process for guiding an intentional small group for nine, 90-minute sessions with an option for extending a session 30-minutes should a group choose to gather over a meal. Each session includes prayer, a check-in process, discussion, practice time, a check-out process, and worship. Suggested scripture readings and hymns are also included. Download the curriculum, video, infographic, and social media graphic free of charge here

General Way of Love materials

Here's where to find downloadable Way of Love materials (but not the materials for Advent). Or you can buy professionally printed tri-folds and wallet cards from Forward Movement. St. Luke's Cathedral sent the tri-fold in their 2018 stewardship mailing.  St. Luke's and St. Mary in Falmouth are using the Reflection & Discernment handout as the basis for simple weekly adult discussions. In the words of one leader: "It gets people talking about their own experiences and sharing with each other."


Resources for Story Sharing

Sharing stories is natural for humans… It’s simple... It builds community within our churches and is a great way to share our faith with friends and family. And it’s not divisive because we rarely get into arguments about an experience.  No wonder resources are popping up everywhere.  Here are some good ones: 

Our Story in God’s Story is a workshop on story sharing created by the Rev. Nancy Moore and used at Spring Training 2018.  You could adapt it for an adult forum at your church.

There are useful and thought-provoking ideas on the Episcopal Evangelism website  about Sharing Your Story and  One-to-One Story Sharing.  

The Living Local: Joining God teams from St. Mark’s in Waterville, St. Paul’s in Brunswick and St. Andrew’s in Newcastle developed questions to stimulate conversations during coffee hour and among parishioners.  The provocative questions ranged from the fun (What was your weirdest job?) to the profound (Where have you noticed God?).   They'd be happy to tell you more. 

For a deep, twenty minute experience of sharing, look at the Living Local  Story Sharing Experiment used last year at a Diocesan Council meeting.  In it, people meet in pairs to tell about a time when you were aware of the presence of God.

If you want a strong, multi-week experience, check out Sacred Stories.  It provides an opportunity for small, intimate groups to share their spiritual journeys - to tell their stories and to listen to others as they tell theirs.  The article was written by Rev. Audrey Delafield at St. Alban's in Cape Elizabeth.  


Ideas for Advent 2018

Advent and Christmas Way of Love materials from the Episcopal Church 

1. Advent Curriculum: Journeying the Way of Love - a new, four-week Advent curriculum pegged to readings and themes from the Sunday lectionary. Sessions are designed for use during the Christian formation hour offerings at churches and ministries exploring the Way of Love. 

2. Journeying the Way of Love Advent Calendar

3. Fantastic Advent Bulletin Inserts for each of the four weeks of Advent - These enable everyone to take home ideas for practicing the Way of Love each day.  Conveniently, there are seven Way of Love practices and seven days in the week.

All are available here.

 The Episcopal Church Foundation has a list of ten recommended resources for Advent 2017, which are still useful. contains a wealth of resources for kids and adults.  Sponsored by Virginia Theological Seminary which is an Episcopal seminary, its moto is: Equip. Teach. Form.  Resources for Disciples of All Ages. The whole site is worth checking out. You'll find Advent Resources if you click on the box entitled Seasonal Resources. 

The monastic Brothers of SSJE offer daily online meditations called Bother Give Us a Word.  During Advent and Lent, they usually have special packages. 

The Text this Week - This website is full of resources for liturgical, sermon and lectionary help.  It's a clearinghouse of information from many different denominations.  Here's the page for Advent. 

A Thrill of Hope (Advent) and What Wondrous Love (Lent) use the artwork of John August Swanson, the reflections of several Bible scholars, music and hymnody to invite participants to delve deeper into Gospel readings for those seasons. DVDs with study guides are available from Cokesbury. from the Rev. Nancy Moore at Christ Church, Norway, and Trinity Lutheran, South Paris 2014 


Books Featured at Spring Training 2018  

American Nations by Colin Woodward – the eleven rival regional cultures of North America will help you to understand our country.  

Grateful by Diana Butler Bass – Gratitude as a spiritual practice.  

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr – This beautifully written book can change your understanding of God and is great for a church book study.  

Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu – “Archbishop Tutu retells more than fifty of his most beloved Bible stories, artfully highlighting God’s desire for all people to love one another.”    

The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister- “This book invites us to embrace older age as a natural part of life that is both active and contemplative.” 

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones -  Dreamland tells interwoven stories of entrepreneurial heroin importers, big pharma and the human lives on all sides of the opioid epidemic. A compelling book.  


Ideas for anytime

A Nazareth Manifesto: Being With God by Samuel Wells is a thought-provoking book about re-envisioning Christianity's approach away from working "for" people to being "with" them. The prologue is a stirring sermon about relationships, Christmas, the incarnation and the character of God. The author moves into a tight synopsis, ten principles of "being with," and an exploration of "doing for," "doing with," "being for" and "being with." As the book jacket says, "Supported by a range of historical, contemporary, exegetical and anecdotal illustrations, A Nazareth Manifesto will prove to be a provocative and valuable contribution to the conversation surrounding Christianity's role in confronting the social challenges of today's world."  (Recommended by Deacon Chick Carroll).
The Education for Ministry (EfM) program includes in-depth study and spiritual support. It has been an exceptional aid for our congregation in developing ministry, supporting our common life and keeping us focused on our mission. Here's our diocese's EfM information.  from the Rev. Peter Jenks and St. John Baptist in Thomaston

Sacred Stories provides an opportunity for small, intimate groups to share their spiritual journeys - to tell their stories and to listen to others as they tell theirs.  Read more here. from the Audrey Delafield at St. Alban's in Cape Elizabeth 

Maine Chapter of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross Do you long to deepen your prayer life? Do you have a heart for social justice? Are you a seeker of peace and reconciliation within yourself and those around you? Then the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC) might be just what you are looking for. The Companions are eager to share the riches of their prayer, service and community. Learn more here

Food for the Soul is what Nadine Timberlake of St. Mary's in Falmouth calls her Bible study at a local assisted living home.  She
says that Bible study with elders, especially those who are experiencing memory losses, can be challenging but also very rewarding.  She takes many of her cues from Godly Play programs, bringing in lots of show-and-tell props.  One week it’s Noah and the animals, another week a picture of the planet earth from outer space.  The more concrete the better, she says.  And she welcomes stories from participants on the theme – and even welcomes stories that aren't especially connected to the theme.  She doesn’t ask the participants to remember anything, she is patient with a lot of repetition and never uses handouts.  A common theme is “How do we show God’s love here?”  Nadine emphasizes that hers is a ministry of presence, not content.  She comes faithfully every session and she never knows whether the Bible study “works.”  “I leave that up to God,” she says.
Bringing Church Home - for the six Sundays in Epiphany - is a resource created by Merle Marie Troeger of St. Mary's, Falmouth, for use in winter 2018.  These six resources are designed as bulletin inserts for January 7 - February 11, 2018, or you could also extract pieces for other uses.  Each is a single page containing short passages from the lectionary, a ritual to try at home, talking points for conversations, an idea for putting faith to work, a prayer and more. Many Maine churches used the Easter Season version that Merle Marie made available earlier this year.  

Ideas for Lent 2018

Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John.  This is a six-week journey and reflection offered by SSJE and the Center for the Ministry of Teaching.  They say, "Have you ever wished to deepen your relationship with God?  To experience a warm friendship with God? Maybe even fall in love with God - again - or for the very first time?"  This is a FREE and robust resource - with prayer journals, facilitation guidance (for small groups), videos and emails.  Either use it with your small group, or encourage individuals to subscribe to the daily video and prayer emails from SSJE.   
You Are the Way: Devotions for Lent 2018 is available from Augsburg Fortress publishers for $3. This beautiful, full-color devotional explores one or more "I am" sayings of Jesus during each week in Lent. The pocket-sized version is breakfast table ready! Large-print and ebook editions are also available.
Lent Madness Whom do you admire more - Hildegard or Saint Francis? Pitting diverse Episcopal saints and saintly figures against each other may seem absured, but it's fun and makes you think about what you truly value. You can follow Lent Madness and vote at Lent Madness
Scroll down to the "Seasonal Picks" on the home page of Building Faith, and you'll find the Lord's Prayer Tracing Cross, and other activities and articles.  And you'll find additional creative ideas for families, adults and children on their "Seasonal Resources" page. A favorite from past years is Lent in a Bag.
Episcopal Relief & Development offers a thought-provoking and heart-opening  daily meditation booklet.   
Stop, Pray, Work, Play and Love  is a perennial favorite from SSJE.  

"So much of our stress and anxiety derives from our pollution of Time. God has given us the gift of time, and called it holy, yet we often experience time as a curse," say the Brothers of SSJE.  Join the Brothers in rediscovering time as a gift.  This series is highly recommended by the Rev. Lisa Smith Fry of St. Thomas Camden, who says "I can’t recommend this enough. It is the one Lenten series that parishioners still remember, and ask if we can repeat. It seems that we all have trouble with finding Time. This Lent, try and slow the pace of our hectic lives with this great series, so it’s possible to become aware of how the Eternal is breaking through to us."    


Other shared ideas

ChurchNext like a Netflix of Episcopal Christian formation resources.  They offer hundreds of online presentations on topics like scripture, liturgy, prayer, self-care, church histroy, theology, etc. People can watch at home or together.  Ten churches in our diocese experimented in 2015 through a discounted joint subscription, and two of them renewed their subscriptions. Read more here

Tea Time for the Soul is a monthly discussion group in which focuses on an interesting article, object or scripture story, and also includes a deeper purpose and other features. Read more here.  from Margaret Reimer and St. Peter's in Bridgton 2015  

Praying in Color is a website with resources for using art to enrich your prayer life. At the FORMA faith formation conference, I attended a brief workshop based on Praying in Color principles and was surprised at how profound the experience can be. Follow this link for printable materials and calendars for praying through art each day during Lent.  recommended by Jennifer Davidson, St. George’s in York 2015
Being Christian by Rowan Williams. This 80-page book, which was used for the Bishop's 2015 lenten book study groups, focuses on fundamental practices of Christians: Baptism, reading the Bible, Eucharist and Prayer.  It's Williams at his best: lucid, accessible and provocative. Preview the book here.  recommended by Bishop Steve Lane 2015 

Practicing Reconciliation in a Violent World by Michael Battle. This evocative book is about the reconciliation that occurs when we affirm that God is present and acting in the midst of tragedy.  Preview the book at Amazon.  from the Rev. Nina Pooley at St. Bartholomew's in Yarmouth 2014 

Offering our questions to God in the offering plate is how one church built its formation program and helped folks to understand that questions can be offerings.  Read more here. from the Rev. Kelly Moughty at St. Alban's in Cape Elizabeth 2014 

Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy: Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis  - was disappointing.  Find out why here. from the Rev. Nathan Ferrell at St. Mary in Falmouth 2014 


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