It is a privilege and an honor to be the first to post on Saint James’ blog that will tell our stories as we travel beyond the walls of the church in order to grow more deeply in our relationship with God and with each other. I arrived at Saint James a year ago with the job title of Associate for Mission & Formation. One might think that this is a rather vague and broad job title, and frankly so did I. In fact I was wondering how on earth I was going to live up to that job description, but as I sat with it, prayed with it, and began to get a feel for the community I realized that I was indeed up for this daunting task. One of my first ideas was to build upon the work that others had done before me and foster a culture of experiential formation; to create opportunities where formation and mission intersect.
When I think about formation I primarily think about Sunday School, confirmation classes, book groups, and other activities where people gather together to learn more about the Christian faith and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st Century. This classroom approach is essential to the formation of any Christian, but as with anything we learn in the classroom the real learning occurs when we take that classroom information out into the world and see how our knowledge and experience reinforce one another…or how they differ.
That being said, I pitched to the rector, Fr. David, a three cycle of pilgrimages that would allow us to explore our faith through three different lenses: identity, history, and service. Our first pilgrimage will be to the Holy Land (we leave in 5 days!!!!) so that we can walk in the footsteps of Jesus and grow deeper in our identity as Christians. Our second pilgrimage slated for the summer of 2016 is to England where we will visit the holy sites that are associated with our Anglican heritage. The final pilgrimage in this three year cycle will be to a country in East or Southern Africa (fingers crossed) or a developing country in order to see how our American experience of Christianity is not normative and to connect with our brothers and sisters in other Anglican Churches. We hope that there will also be some service components during this final pilgrimage that will allow us create lasting relationships with Christian communities around the world.
It is my hope that you will be able to use this blog to follow us on our journeys, as well as have an opportunity to read theological reflections from participants as they process their experiences. Consider yourself invited to join us as we walk in love as Christ loved us.