A Great Gust of Faith Formation

dr. lee barrett
Dr. Lee Barrett, III leading discussion at Presbyterian School of Christian Education (1988); Photo from the ATS/PSCE Centennial Celebration

When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
Acts 2: 1-4

This past Sunday, the Christian Church celebrated Pentecost in thousands of languages and in every corner of the world. I find that idea a bit romantic and powerful in this time when it seems that people are shouting the statistics of church decline. Even now, in yet another turbulent age for the Church, we continue to praise God as we did many centuries ago.

I can only believe that it was the Spirit that guided my focus for the sermon at First Presbyterian Church in Albemarle, NC that morning. The focus was on the need for multiple ways of communicating because each one of us hears, learns, and interprets in different ways. This gift of multiple languages, and the gift of Christ’s disciples who could now speak and understand them, burned the Church into existence as God’s Word was shared with every person in multiple ways. Just before I stood up to preach this sermon, I felt the Spirit burst through the doors of that sanctuary and create a new gust of wind as educators gathered at and filled the front of the sanctuary to overflowing as they were recognized.

class photo
Assembly Training School, entering class of 1955

Union Presbyterian Seminary has a rich history in Christian Education. Over the last 102 years, our federated school, Presbyterian School of Christian Education formerly known as Assembly Training School for Lay Workers has played a key role in forming Christian educators and sending them around the world as missionaries, Sunday School teachers, Directors of Christian Education, Youth Group leaders, camp directors, puzzle makers, illustrators, and authors… just to name a few! As we continue to seek ways to live into our Christian Education legacy that has been passed down through generations of professors and students, one might say that Union Presbyterian Seminary is an institution of the Pentecost.

Whether we serve a congregation of eight people or eight-thousand people, each one of us is called to live into the call of Pentecost– that is, we are each challenged to share God’s Word with those whom we meet. We may not always be able to do this effectively based on the way that we ourselves communicate and the way that our neighbors hear and receive what we say. This is why we should seek out others to help us in this endeavor (beyond the fact that I don’t know a single person with the needed time available to them!).

Love Thy Neighbor
This image, created by the children at FPC Albemarle at the start of this educational year, was shared with each educator as a “thank you” for their gifts to the congregation.

Personally, when I think back on my faith journey, it is the many Sunday School teachers and Youth Group leaders that come to mind. As I saw the variety of people who gathered at the front of First Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary on Sunday, having committed their lives to caring for and guiding others through their own faith journeys, my heart was full. On Sunday morning 109 names were listed in the bulletin, recognizing and thanking the individuals who had given their time to the faith formation of others. When I think about what those days following the first Pentecost might have looked like as Christ’s followers began to go out, this might be pretty close to accurate!

To each of those individuals, and to all Christian Educators around the world,
I want to say “Thank you!”

 


First Presbyterian Church in Albemarle, NC is led by Rev. Elizabeth Ayscue (M. Div. 1989) and Rev. Matt Drumheller (M. Div. 2012). Learn more about their Christian Education opportunities on the congregation’s website!

Rev. Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer

 

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2 thoughts on “A Great Gust of Faith Formation

  1. We at First Presbyterian are blessed to have wonderful educators. We were blessed on Sunday to have a terrific message from rev. Jordan. Glad she felt the spirit.

    Like

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