About Christian Education
Understanding the Christian Faith – education and formation – is just as important to the Christian life as is worship. Episcopalians in general and the folks at St. Clement’s Church in particular understand education and formation in one’s faith to be a vital part living the Christian life. Because Anglicanism is based on three sources of authority - Scripture, Tradition and Reason – we find education and formation more than just studying the Bible. It involves understanding the contexts of the writing of certain parts of the Bible; understanding that ancient peoples defined “history” differently than we do; that some books and portions are mythical and fables – for instance, the Book of Job makes it pretty clear in the introduction that this is a story meant to teach a certain lesson and not a report of actual events. In the New Testament, the authors each have their own theological agenda they are trying to portray. This causes us to ask questions of the texts as they apply to 21st Century living.
Tradition is that body of writing produced during and after the 1st Century, some of it written even earlier than portions of the New Testament. These resources assist us in understanding how the Church has interpreted the Christian Faith throughout the centuries and the importance of being somewhat congruent with them in our own time.
Reason is oldest of these three sources in that God gifted humans with the ability to think about the world around us and make inquiries about our world. Science has always been thought of as part of Reason in that through science, God continues to reveal the mysteries of the universe.
While Christian education and formation reflect on these sources, their main purpose is to inform, inspire and transform us in our call to live the Christian life. Many “doctrines” and “dogmas” are what the Church calls “holy Mysteries” because, while we hold them as truth, these truths are frequently difficult to put into mere words. Music, poetry, fine and performing arts are ways we can get a glimpse of what these Mysteries mean.
Ultimately, Christian education and formation for both young people and adults is to guide us in following Jesus as the Lord of our lives by practicing the behaviors, concepts and attitudes he taught while on earth. Ultimately, Christian education and formation assist us in our relationship with God, the Church and each other. When boiled down, the Christian Faith is less about dogma and doctrine and all about being authentic and genuine human beings and practicing compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace and justice. One might say that the real purpose of doctrine and dogma are to guide and encourage us in these endeavors.
Christian education and formation for children focuses on who Jesus was and is, what he taught and the expectation that we be loving, caring and compassionate people. It also informs them to love others - even those who might not be so loveable – and ways to do that.
Scripture and Faith Study
Sundays, 15 minutes after 10:30 Mass
Because Episcopalians/Anglicans rely on three sources of authority, our having a "Bible" study is an incomplete examination of our lives in faith. Our Scripture and Faith Study looks at theological issues through the lens of Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Reason as have Anglicans since the very beginning. Through these three lenses, we try to discern what God is saying to us through the Spirit and then try to figure out for ourselves as individuals and as a Faith Community how we are to respond.
Scripture and Faith Study takes on many forms. Sometimes we travel through a particular book of the Bible, usually the New Testament. Sometimes we examine the readings for the upcoming Sunday. Sometimes we tackle current issues and controversies through examining Scripture, Tradition and Reason. And we usually find that the questions themselves are just as important as the answers.
Scripture and Faith Study meets every Sunday, fifteen minutes after Mass so people have a chance to connect and get a beverage and a nosh. Bring them with you to Absalom Jones House, the grey house behind the Church on 31st Street and join with the Rector and others in the discussion.