Instructor profile: Anne Kitch

If you have children or grandchildren, if you teach children, if you’re interested in children’s spiritual formation, you’ll want to get to know the Rev. Canon Anne Kitch (if you haven’t already). We’ve been fortunate to have Anne present several ChurchNext courses; she’s an inspiring preacher, author, priest, and expert in Christian education. kitch

Her book The Anglican Family Prayer Book is a highly-praised and wonderful resource for those in the Episcopal tradition. As a parent herself, Anne knows that children’s faith begins in the home and that home is perhaps the best and most natural place for us grown-ups to teach children about God — and to worship and pray with them. Anne calls this book “a sacred book, a recipe book, a traveler’s guide, and a tool kit.” She emphasizes the importance of modeling an active prayer life with our children, and this book offers easy and everyday ways to incorporate faith practices into your home life. As we know, children are always watching and learning from us, so if we seek to encourage their lives of faith, Anne’s wisdom is absolutely invaluable. She shares some tidbits of this book in her ChurchNext course, Start a Family Devotional Time; this would be a wonderful class for a parents’ or MOPS small group. (One of the great things about ChurchNext courses is that you can take a course after the kids are in bed, on your own schedule, without even having to get a babysitter!)

Anne has also written some wonderful resources on baptism, both baptism for adults and for children. We commend to you her books, Preparing for Baptism in the Episcopal Church; Water of Baptism, Water for Life: An Activity Book; and Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting. Since baptism is arguably the most important day of your life, preparing for it, whether it’s your own or your child’s — is both vital and fruitful. Along with her published works, we commend to you these ChurchNext courses, as either primers or refreshers on baptism:

Introducing Christian Baptism
Adult Baptism in the Episcopal Church
Preparing for Infants’ and Children’s Baptism in the Episcopal Church

Check out also Anne’s other wonderful books for children and families:

Bless This Way
Bless This Day: Toddler Prayers
What We Do in Church: An Anglican Child’s Activity Book
What We Do in Advent: An Anglican Kids’ Activity Book
What We Do in Lent: A Child’s Activity Book
One Little Church Mouse

We’re grateful to have wonderful priests and authors like Anne in the ChurchNext family, helping folks think about, learn about, and enrich children’s lives of faith.

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Making the Most of ChurchNext in Your Church

This is the first in a series offering ideas for ways to use ChurchNext in your congregation, to meet the needs of parishioners and to build strong faith communities.Bible-Reading-Group-Photo

Finding God in Divorce (also available in the For Groups format):  Does your congregation have a divorce support group?  Carolyne Call offers a wonderful way to begin working through the emotional and spiritual damage broken relationships can cause. If your church has a support group, you may want to take this course together, either by meeting as a small group to watch the videos and discuss them, or by offering the course in your church’s online school. Participants could be encouraged to keep a journal of their thoughts, experiences, and wisdom gained; they could use their journal, the course and its Takeaway as references to revisit in times of need. Perhaps participants could collect the wisdom they’ve gained and share it with others outside the church, or with new members of the divorce support group.

Newcomers: What about those folks who are new to your parish and new to the Episcopal Church overall? If you come from a non-liturgical background, you may feel overwhelmed and confused at times by the different aspects of Episcopal worship and theology. You might want to offer Introducing Episcopal Worship and The Episcopal Tradition (also available in the For Groups format). By adding the course to your online school, you offer newcomers or the curious — or even their friends — an opportunity to learn more about the Episcopal Church in a non-threatening way. Alternatively, you can offer a time and space for newcomers to meet as a group, watch the videos, and discuss them. Clergy can be on hand to answer other questions — because there are always many!

Parenting: Parents often long to take part in congregational programs and spiritual formation, but haven’t childcare, are overscheduled, or are simply strapped for time. Why not offer a spiritual parenting program at your church — one that is based online, so that parents can take courses on their own schedule and as needed? In addition, you might arrange — or encourage them to arrange — regular small group meetings, playdates, potluck get-togethers, and the like, where parents can meet, learn from, discuss with, and support each other. There’s nothing more powerful than moral support and strength in numbers, as any parent knows. Simply offering time to think, reflect, learn, and then enjoy fellowship and discussion, can make a world of difference as parents try to raise their children in the faith. Courses along these lines include Spiritual Roots of Loving Parenting; Handling Strong-Willed Children, and Start a Family Devotional Time. They may also want to review the vows they made at their children’s baptism (and their own), since the event itself can be a distant memory.

How have you been using ChurchNext courses to shape and inspire disciples? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on social media (#churchnext).

New course: How to Run a Vacation Bible School with Dorothy Linthicum

Vacation Bible School can either be a cheap day camp for kids on summer break or it can be a rich, life-changing immersion in faith for God’s children. Why not make it the latter? In our latest course, How to Run a Vacation Bible School, Dorothy Linthicum shows us how. She offers practical tips and well-tested wisdom on everything from what supplies you might need (or, surprisingly, not need), to identifying opportunities, to training teachers to provide the best experience possible.linthicum

This course is a wonderful way to learn how to run a Vacation Bible School, but it’s also an insightful review that will have seasoned veterans rethinking their own plans or dreaming up new and exciting ones. Dorothy helps us step back a bit to think more deeply about the who, what, where, how, and especially why of a church’s VBS program. She offers assistance on selecting a curriculum, staying organized, selecting volunteers and staff, and getting the whole church involved.

We invite you to imagine just how amazing, life-changing, and faith-enriching a Vacation Bible School can be, not only for young children, but for all the adults involved as well. Click here for more information or to register.

Dorothy Linthicum has counseled countless VBS organizers and reviewed even more VBS curricula in her years as Program Coordinator and Instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching.