Adult Faith Formation Survey
June 2022 Faith Formation Newsletter:
The start of summer at First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, Illinois meant two things: Sunday School students showed their memorization prowess reciting one of the Bible’s greatest hits, and it meant the Ice-Cream Social. I loved the ice-cream, don’t get me wrong, but what I was really excited about was what I liked to call the, “Scale the Wall Quest.”
My church growing up is much like First Pres here in Ann Arbor - filled with nooks and crannies, dark hallways, a choir loft that was a perfect hiding spot, and one of my most feared and favorite places - a cut-out square that blended in with the floor on the church’s balcony. Some of us who will remain unnamed could often convince our parents to let us sit in the balcony and we would lift the piece of floor and drop ourselves into whatever mystery that entry took us (my apologies to the Reverend Richard Todd, who was preaching at the time of our journey into the unknown).
The church was a playground, is what I’m trying to say, and “Scale the Wall Quest” went like this:
While parents and other respectable members of the church were enjoying their Neapolitan ice-cream, we kids picked a point on the outside of the church where there was a six-inch ledge that went around the perimeter of the building. We climbed up (a feat that was not easy for those of us wearing tulle and black patent leather shoes), and carefully - reverently - with our bodies skimming the gray cement, we made our way around the outside of the church.
One year, the verse I memorized was Psalm 23, and as far as I’m concerned, this is the scariest set of verses in the Bible. To this day, I break out into a sweat whenever I hear the word, “valley.” And it wasn’t that I wouldn’t get the ice-cream, or be able to scale the wall with my friends, but like these activities, memorization of Bible verses were traditions, and I love traditions. I didn’t know this at the time, but drilling phrases like, “God so loved the world,” and “love is patient, love is kind,” and “The Lord is my shepherd,” into my mind set a rhythm and ritual to my life that I can say now intersects with all that I do and all that I am, and all that I hope to be.
So I bounced a ball on the sidewalk outside of my house and made a beat to Psalm 23. I stood on the overpass of the Eisenhower expressway and yelled a stanza into the air, trying to get the words out before the next el train rushed by. By the time I’d climbed up to the ledge and hugged the shadow of the concrete against my face and hands, Psalm 23 had seeped its way into me, carrying me into whatever mystery I found myself in next.
- Callie R. Feyen, elder and Co-Chair of the Adult Faith Formation Committee
Suggested summer rituals and rhythms that the Faith Formation Committee put together:
Something to listen to: Chris Wahl suggests the FaithBeats podcast, hosted and written by our very own, Mark Mares. Catch up on some great interviews and discussions with people in our church.
Something to create: Beth Gerwig attends to a small nature altar. On a small plate, she collects natural objects that grab her attention - an odd shaped piece of bark, tiny clusters of fallen buds, stones, feathers I find walking along and discover stuck in bushes, etc. “It’s placed where I always see,” Beth says. “The intention is to stay wonder struck by the beauty of the earth and full of gratitude.”
Something to write: One of the Sabbath rituals Mark Mares practices from time to time is to take out a typewriter and write a letter to a friend. Typing on a typewriter allows one to slow down, and to think about what it is you want to say. I buy these journals for my daughters in the summer. They are simple ways to encourage them to spend a few minutes with the Bible. (I buy one for myself, too.)
Something to read: Summer goes hand - in - hand with beach reads, and while these two might not exactly fall into that category, they are books I return to each summer: The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime and At The Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time, by Sarah Arthur
Something to eat, drink, and be merry: The Twenties and Thirties (T2A2) group is tackling this summer with a mix of studies of Ecclesiastes and fun events. After all, Ecclesiastes 8:15 says: "So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad." Join us after church on June 5 as we explore Taste of Ann Arbor, and later in the month as we attend Shakespeare in the Arb. We'll also be doing some hammering at the Habitat for Humanity House of Faith on June 4. In between, join us every other Sunday at 7pm as we read and discuss Ecclesiastes. To learn more or join our email list to keep up with our other events, email Resident Minister Rev. Hannah Lundberg, email@example.com.
Whatever rituals and rhythms you partake in, we hope you have a rich and lively summer, and we look forward to offering you more Faith Formation courses in the fall.
What is Faith Formation?
Faith Formation is an intentional time for learning and growing in our faith. Faith Formation is for All Ages, at 11:00 a.m. and offers multiple new and returning interactive learning opportunities, including bible study, worship dialogue, and discussion groups. Attend a gathering that catches your interest on any given Sunday, or join a group for a multi-week study. Children, Youth and College faith formation groups (formally known as Sunday School) also meet at this time.
Note: Adult Faith Formation classes will resume the Fall 2022.
THE BIBLE at 11:00 O'CLOCK
MEETS IN THE CURTIS ROOM after the 9:30 a.m. service
In past years, the goal of the class has been to read and discuss the text, verse-by-verse for New Testament works, chapter-by-chapter for Old Testament. We start at the beginning of a book and proceed to the end.
This past Fall we began reading Isaiah. Isaiah has 66 chapters, covers nearly 300 years of history under three empires, and is not in historical order. There will be 30 classes so we must read in a different way with a different set of goals. We will learn the history about Isaiah and the era; learn the themes of Isaiah; learn how to read a prophet; examine use of Isaiah in the New Testament; discuss material for Isaiah's themes and meanings and other matters as they arise. In the Spring we contiued to read Isaiah, chapters 40-55 (Second Isaiah), which was a turning point in the history and theology of Judaism.
This class format is an open discussion and everyone is welcome to participate. There is no homework and Bibles are provided. If you cannot be present in person, you can participate by Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86117387186
FIRST FRIENDS - MEETS IN THE LEWIS ROOM
irst Friends is a self-directed adult fellowship group that uses numerous online materials to simulate discussion about a variety of religious and spiritual topics. The group provides a safe and confidential place for people to share concerns and receive Christian support. All are welcome.
EXPLORING THE FAITH: WORSHIP - MEETS IN THE CHANCEL AREA/CHOIR LOFT OF THE SANCTUARY
Exploring the Faith will be led by our Pastors, Resident Ministers, and guest preachers to continue the conversation with members and visitors about sermon messages or related worship topics. This will be closer time spent in the company of our pastors and Resident Ministers to become further acquainted and familiar with their views on following Jesus' example and biblical interpretation.
Note: Child Care is available by reservation during the 11:00 a.m. Faith Formation sessions.
Additional Reading and Study Groups
Other small groups, such as reading groups and bible studies, are also available. For more information visit our Small Groups page.