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Helping People Grow In God Is Mission Of Expanded CFC
When the Christian Formation Commission (CFC) was created in 2002, it brought together two vital groups – the Commission for Christian Education and the Commission for Youth. While the reasoning behind the integration was to affect a seamless, better-coordinated approach to more creative programming, the result is proving to be much more. What is now evolving is a synergistic commission whose sum is many times greater than its two previous parts, and echoes the diocesan mission statement of – equipping congregations, empowering people, and engaging the world.
The Rev. Laurie Matarazzo, priest-in-charge at St. Mary’s Church, Belvidere, and St. Luke’s Church, Hope, previously served as chairwoman of the CFC, a role now filled by Kathy DeWalt of St. Luke’s, Montclair. Matarazzo states, “We see ourselves as the ‘go-to’ team when churches and congregations are facing challenges in the area of Christian formation. The CFC, which consists of 11 members from throughout the diocese, is here to help.”
According to Matarazzo, “When the two previous commissions came together, one of the members at that time stated that this new organization brought a shared sense of mission around Christian formation. With this unified body, we would not constantly reinvent the wheel, but maximize the possibilities for accomplishing ministry. In addition, as one of our members stated recently, we are not limited by the chronological barrier of age – Christian formation is from cradle to grave.”
The CFC mission statement supports the expanded view, as Matarazzo continues, “Our mission statement reflects a broader understanding of our faith formation. Christian formation is a lifelong journey of faith development, commissioned in baptism. Through education, worship, prayer, service, witness and other experiences, we are formed as Christians, growing in our knowledge of and relationship with God in Christ.”
The CFC seeks to foster Christian formation on five attributes. These include formation that is: Christ-centered, spirit-filled and holistic; sharing in experiences, traditions, gifts and faith; community-based at both personal and corporate levels; utilizes a process that bears good fruit; and encourages appropriate risks to enable growth.
Examining the breadth and depth of these five attributes, Matarazzo acknowledges that their scope is expansive, but then adds, “Faith formation is just that. It evolves in so many places and in so many ways opens us to so many potentials for new missions and ministry in our parishes. Because this can encompass so much, the CFC is committed to communicating our mission, and to becoming a resource for all of our congregations.”
In order to reach out to the various congregations, the CFC has facilitated retreats, sponsored training events, and designed and distributed daily online meditations for the seasons of Advent and Lent. To continue this outreach, the CFC will host a “Teacher Resource Day” on September 10, and will hold “Sabbath: Making Time for Yourself and God” on November 5. Information will be forthcoming.
At a recent meeting of the CFC, members were asked, “What do you think is the most essential, most important, most central component of the CFC?” The question evoked a wide range of responses. One member cited that ministering to different age groups brings about an interconnection and intergenerational learning that provides opportunities for people from all regions and all districts of the diocese to come together for a common purpose. Another felt the CFC served as a vital resource for individual leaders who sometimes feel alone and isolated in ministry. Many referenced the CFC’s online series of Lenten and Advent meditations that provide a form of formation that demand very little time and effort for individuals and congregations, yet, has the capacity to reach everyone in the diocese.
In summary, Matarazzo states, “Whatever challenges our priests, deacons or lay leaders are facing, remember that the CFC is prepared to help discern and design ways to enhance Christian formation in your church. Our logo says it all: Helping People Grow in God.”