The United Church of Christ is only as strong as its local congregations. That's why Justice and Local Church Ministries is rolling out a reconfigured faith formation team, with a laser focus on the needs of the local Church.
"The Faith Formation Team and the Congregational Assessment Support and Advancement team (CASA) have come together to form the Faith Education, INnovation, and FOrmation team, or Faith INFO," said the Rev. Chris Davies, program manager for CASA/Faith INFO. "From workshops to webinars, resources to prayerful conversations of encouragement, Faith INFO is a team dedicated to the support of communities of faith, as they have been, as they currently are, and as they vision themselves into the future. Faith INFO is for congregations, and for the people who are seeking a closer connection to the Gospel moving in the world today."
The Faith INFO Team is committed to equipping local congregations with resources to teach and to preach for all ages; curating and creating materials where needed. Part of the group responsibilities involve assisting communities assess, plan, and live into who God is calling them to be—both present and future.
The new Faith INFO team is already planning to host two events at the Church House in this fall to brainstorm and share good ideas around youth ministry and grant work.
"I am excited about what they have developing in this group," said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister of the Justice and Local Church Ministries, which encompasses Faith INFO.
The first development is a National Conversation on Youth Ministry from September 24-26 in Cleveland. During this time, youth ministers will discuss best practices, share relevant resources that are making an impact in their congregations and discuss how to better collaborate with each other as well as the National Setting. The group will also begin a future project, which involves creating a resource for the next National Youth Event in 2020.
October 15-17, Faith INFO is hosting an impact symposium around grant work. The Impact Granting Event as it is called is for conference staff and decision makers, with the discussion centering around how to best use their financial resources in grants for local congregations. The event will begin a conversation about how to use money in granting for impactful, equitable, and intentional funding.
In addition to Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org), Faith INFO team members include Roberto Ochoa, (email@example.com) program associate for Congregations of Color; the Rev. Trayce Stewart, (firstname.lastname@example.org) minister for Youth and Young Adult Engagement; the Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelway, (email@example.com) minister of Congregational and Community Engagement; the Rev. Sue Blain, (firstname.lastname@example.org) minister for Faith Formation: Curator for Worship and the Liturgical Arts; and Jennifer White, (email@example.com) program assistant. The team leader position is vacant at this time.
"The current configuration brings wisdom together all that focuses in Justice and Local Church Ministries for the local church, and compliments MESA's (Ministerial Excellence, Support & Authorization) support of the ministerial role in our support of congregations," Davies said. "We work closely to collect as well as produce resources that are helpful for local churches."
"It's always exciting to witness the spirit of God doing new things which benefit God's people," said the Rev. Bentley deBardelaben, executive associate, Justice and Local Church Ministries. "I fully believe the new formed Faith INFO team will continue to diligently work to produce soul stirring initiatives that will assist local church leadership facilitate growth and transformation among its members for years to come."
There will be additional opportunities to meet the team on the UCC Facebook page in the coming weeks.