The Dean was concerned that we didn’t have any “basics” classes at Trinity. So, inspired by Canon Carey’s previous ministry in this area, I developed some. It was a good way to provide basics and to develop a year-round catechumenate. (One of the concerns about the catechumenate process was that it didn’t include enough Episcopal doctrine. I have since come to the realization that, for a spiritual formation process, doctrine is secondary.)
We implemented four courses: Introduction to the OT, Introduction to the NT, Introduction to Church History (basically a course on the origins of the Episcopal Church from the primitive church to the present) and Introduction to Worship and Prayer (basically an introduction to the BCP). I taught the Scripture courses one summer and the history and worship courses the next. We would do the catechumenate in the fall through the spring. We would promote the catechumenate during the classes and promote the classes near the end of the catechumenate season. It worked well on many levels.
I stopped doing the classes two or three years ago because, as with many things at Trinity, I did not find the time for this ministry. I have been looking forward to starting them again. I sent an email concerning this to the Director of Spiritual Formation at Trinity as well as to the Director of Adult Spiritual Formation. I did not include the Interim Dean in the email because I thought my proposal would go “up the chain” if the Director thought that appropriate or necessary.
I received the following response:
Thank you for this; we appreciate the offer as the classes sound great!
However, this summer we will only be offering our usual “one of” classes as we have done in years past. Due to the period of transition we expect this summer, those will offer us more flexibility. We’ll look at scheduling multiweek classes again in the fall.
Kathy and Susan
The response mystifies me, though I suspect I might have had more success if I had gone directly to the Interim Dean or if the proposal had come from somebody else.
The Interim Dean has expressed concern in the past that we don’t have enough foundational classes at Trinity. His response to the dearth of Scripture classes was a five week introduction to the Bible (the entire Bible in five weeks). However, he has demonstrated a “reluctance” of my involvement at Trinity and has strongly resisted implementation of the catechumenate. I didn’t mention the connection between the introductory courses and the catechumenate in my email.
One of the benefits of the classes would be “closing the back door,” as Mary Parmer puts it in Invite Welcome Connect. Having classes in which newcomers and others can participate (to be differentiated from “Newcomer Classes” that introduce people to the parish) is a good way to retain new members. Trinity has a committee that is investigating how to implement Invite Welcome Connect. This refusal of my offer might indicate two unfortunate things in this regard. First, that those on the Committee (which is led by the Interim Dean) are not exercising the imagination, will and courage to implement. Second, that they would rather continue to talk about evangelism rather than practice it.
I hope and pray for change.