Adult Christian Education at St. Peter's

by Shelagh Balfour, Pastor of Christian Education

This fall, St. Peter’s will once again be launching into a year of adult Christian education.  Books have been ordered and lessons are being planned. We will soon be gathering to sink our teeth into a study on collaboration which will help us grow into the new model of ministry here in the parish. This will be followed by sessions on stewardship and discerning our gifts as well as opportunities for fellowship and Bible study. Interspersed will be events like movie nights and the St. Peter’s Book Group.

Ongoing Christian education is an essential part of our life together in Christ for two main reasons: It helps us to grow and mature as Christians and it equips us to live the life we are called to in our baptism.

Baptism is a once in a lifetime event. At the moment of our baptism, we are “marked as Christ’s own forever” and we are made members of the body of Christ. We become a part of the community.  Although you could say this is the moment we officially become Christians, it is not the end of a journey. Rather, it is the beginning, the first step on a lifelong road of being formed into the image of Christ. Once marked as Christ’s own, we must discover what that means in our lives, individually and corporately. Ongoing Christian education helps us discern this.

How we live our lives in Christ changes as we grow and develop, both individually and as a parish. This means that the types of learning experience that speak to us will also change. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the Sunday morning program for children at St. Peter’s, is intentionally designed to teach the stories of our faith in ways that are developmentally appropriate to the age of the child. The stories and activities that will be meaningful for a three year-old, are not the same as those for a seven year-old, or a ten year-old. The children are at different developmental stages and they will understand God’s love for them in different and ever expanding ways.

That doesn’t end with childhood, however. Human development continues through all stages of life, from birth to our senior years. Throughout our lives, our experience of God’s saving grace will change and deepen and we grow into our understanding of God’s love for us. As adults we need to return again and again to the stories of our faith and view them afresh with the new insights that come with each stage of life.  

As we grow in faith, we also grow in our response to it. We are all familiar with the 6 promises that are made at baptism. These are reaffirmed by the community each time we renew our baptismal vows. Among other things, we promise to “proclaim by word and example the good news of Jesus Christ” and to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself”.  If we’re honest, most of us are probably a little uncertain how we are supposed to do this. How do we take those 6 promises and make them the blueprint for living our life in Christ? How do we take our faith out the door after Sunday morning worship and live it actively in the world?

Equipping us to answer these questions is one of the goals of adult Christian education. Together, as a community, we explore what it means to live as disciples of Jesus Christ and we support one another in our journeys. Along the way, we share a lot of laughter and get to know one another better, all of which makes St. Peter’s a stronger and more faithful community.

We all have questions about our faith and we all gain when we try to answer those questions together. Check out the educational offerings already available this fall. If you want to see something more, something that responds to the questions on your mind, please talk to me, your Pastor of Christian Education. We are always planning for what is coming next.  Come and join us. It will be both fun and enriching.