The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | Autumn 2020
Faith formation encompasses the ministries and activities offered by the church that help people grow in faith and in their understanding of and love for God.

"Complacency Isn't Our Friend"
Searching for Racial Justice in the Church
By Monique Hebert

Over the past couple of months, this country has watched as many Black men and women were killed right before our eyes. These events have made me reflect back on an article I wrote a couple of years ago called, “3 Things Church Taught Me About Race Relations” and its relevance to now.

As a black woman having grown up in liturgical churches, I was familiar with being the only person of color every Sunday. I have been disappointed and hurt by the church’s lack of response to the racial injustices happening over the years. The ignoring of systemic racism in the church has made me feel invisible as people have overlooked my skin color in failed attempts to be colorblind. The church can not afford to be colorblind anymore though as we move forward.

In the article, I discuss why even though it can be uncomfortable it’s so important to talk about race in church. Now more than ever it’s time to speak out because complacency isn’t our friend. Jesus called out the status quo again and again in ways that were controversial in that time. Just as controversial as it may be, to some people, to take to the streets and march today.

As we look forward to what it truly means to be the body of Christ, I hope we can challenge each other and hold each other accountable when it comes to the sin of racism. I hope that the church can be a leading force in this fight and just like it says in Galatians 6:9, never grow tired of doing what is right.

I hope we can be honest about our shortcomings and continue to proclaim until our voices give out that Black Lives Matter, Black Church-goers Matter, Black Clergy Matter, and Black Futures Matter.
Monique Hebert is a writer and mental health advocate living in the Seattle area. She self published a book of poetry about anxiety in 2018. She has written for The Mighty, Living Lutheran, Broadway World, and Introvert Dear. Her plays have had staged readings at the Seattle Playwrights Salon, Left Coast Theatre Company, and The Pocket Theatre. Her latest play, Mean Girl & Best Friend, is getting a virtual production in New York in November and you can learn more and get tickets here. Monique considers herself "Episcopal adjacent," spending alternate Sundays between Episcopal and Lutheran churches. She attended the "Holy Waste of Time" retreat for young adults in 2019.
What I'm Reading Now:
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
By Bishop Greg Rickel
I am reading a lot on race and racism right now...  

The latest is The Fire Next Time, which was published in 1963, the year I was born.  I have always loved James Baldwin and I am now starting to read from him and many others from that era of Civil Rights.

Perhaps the most stunning thing about reading this book now, is realizing just how little has changed in almost 60 years in this country between the races. His words are just as cogent, just as troubling, just as real. The title comes from a couplet in "Mary Don't You Weep" a Negro spiritual: 
God gave Noah the rainbow sign
No more water, the fire next time

Among many insights perhaps the most haunting question he asks is, "Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?" This is a short but powerful work. I highly recommend it.
Forma Conference Registration: Let Us Pay Your Way!
This year's Forma Conference, January 26 - 28, will be 100% online and the Diocese of Olympia has secured a group package that will cover everyone who works or volunteers for Children & Families, Youth, and other faith formation ministries, who would like to attend. Let us know you are interested and we'll send you the access codes when they become available. 

Last Chance to take the Faith Formation Survey!...
Please take 10 minutes to complete the Diocesan Faith Formation survey on or before this Friday -- and many thanks to those of you who already have. In return, we'll donate $5 for every submission to Episcopal Relief and Development. Later this year, expect a report on faith formation staff job descriptions and hours, how they are paid in western Washington, how staffing is structured, and much more.

Many thanks to the Rev. Emily Tanis-Likkel, Family Life Minister at St. John the Baptist, West Seattle, for managing this effort.
Contemplative Creativity:
A New On-line Approach Combines Art-Making and Spirituality
Contemplative Creativity is a new on-line group prayer practice at Christ Church, Anacortes, aimed at providing a peaceful setting for art and companionship. The group explores spirituality through mindful creativity, focusing on process or experience as opposed to product or permanence.

A once a month art lesson, guided by artist Fabrizia Lima, is followed by a time for hands-on practice.

Check out the "Contemplative Creativity" website, complete with video shorts and examples of the art, and connect with church member, Vestry Warden, and project coordinator, Sylvia Sepulveda, for more details.
Extend Your Reach: Promote Your Event to The Whole Diocese
Are you hosting an on-line formation event that you think would be of benefit to a wider audience?

There's a new page on the Diocesan website listing the many diverse and creative on-line programs happening everywhere in western Washington. Add your event to the line-up by completing a simple form on the page.
Conversation & Community
Leaders in Children & Families Ministry Meeting
Grab your brown-bag lunch and let's meet Wednesday, September 23 at noon via Zoom. In addition to our 'round the room check-in and sharing, we've got an agenda chock-full of good things:

  • Preview the data from the Faith Formation survey with Emily Tanis-Likkel, survey manager;
  • Hear about the best resources from around the country from Elaine Ogden, Children & Families Ministry Facebook page editor;
  • Get an update on the Messy Church movement in the Diocese. 

This meeting is open to all who create and provide programming for children and families whether they be staff members, volunteers, or clergy.
Let's Explore this Together:
Messy Church
Does it ever feel like your Sunday school programs are not meeting their potential? Would you like to reach more families but can't seem to get them in the door? Is your congregation needing an infusion of energy around ministry to families?

If so, you might want to take a look at Messy Church, a framework for a once a month, mid-week gathering that engages all ages and people from all walks of life. Imported from the Church of England, Messy Church has a lively VBS/VCS vibe (see the video, left). Each evening includes:

  • Welcome: People arrive, play games, have a snack – 30 minutes
  • Activities/Arts & Crafts Stations – 1 hour
  • Celebration (service) in worship space – 15 minutes
  • Meal – 30 minutes

Clearly, Messy Church is a post-pandemic program since the gathering and feeding of people is at its heart. However, it's not too soon to do some planning and training. If you're intrigued, request the Messy Church book (provide your mailing address). We'll keep you updated on future training opportunities.
A New Resource for All Saints' Day:
Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints
Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints, by Daneen Aker, is an illustrated children’s storybook featuring the stories of people of diverse faiths who worked for more love and justice in their corner of the world, even when that meant rocking the religious boat.

This book is illustrated with a variety of artistic styles (more than two dozen artists created original portraits). It emphasizes the stories of women, LGBTQ people, people of color, Indigenous people, and others too often written out of religious narratives.
St. Andrew, Seattle, with permission from author Daneen Aker, has set-up a "self-guided tour" featuring the images and life stories of the unconventional saints profiled in Holy Troublemakers. The tour is
free and open to the public daily through September 20th.
Follow Diocesan Children & Families Ministry on Social Media
Check out our updated page and be sure to "Like" Episcopal Children & Families of Western Washington. Many thanks to Elaine Ogden, Editor, who keeps it current and relevant.
Safe Church Training
Sunday Nights are for Youth!
Games, Special Guests & Evening Prayer on Zoom
Zoom Meeting ID: 951 3947 4164
Register below for the passcode

(Grades 9-12) Join your friends from around the Diocese at a weekly youth gathering via zoom every Sunday, 7:00 - 8:30 pm. Expect activities, conversations, and guest speakers before winding down with evening worship, led by a different priest from around the Diocese of Olympia each week.

Registration is $35 and covers all of 2020. All youth who register will receive a welcome packet and T-Shirt in the mail (batch #1 is scheduled to ship the first week of October). Scholarships are available, simply select that option when registering. Questions? Email
You're Invited: Monthly Youth Ministry Leaders Meetings
NEXT MEETING: Thursday September 24th, 11:00am
Zoom Meeting ID: 921 0170 0256

Youth Ministry leaders in the Diocese of Olympia, you are invited for a call every last Thursday of the month. We'll talk about upcoming events at a local and Diocesan level, ways to support one another, share resources, and build community and pray with peers. Please register your interest by emailing:

Save these dates: September 24th, October 29th, November 26th
Holy Harvest at Food Bank Farm
Saturday, Sept 26th, 2020
9:00 am - noon OR 1:00 - 4:00 pm

(Grades 6-12 & Families) Join us in socially-distanced family units! Do your part to help the Food Bank Farm harvest 500,000 pounds of food from the field to the tables of hungry people with the Rev. Jim Eichner of Holy Cross, Redmond.

Bring your own lunch! Snacks available. Hand washing and restroom facilities available on site. To register, please e-mail:
Free Suicide Prevention Training Offered for Youth Ministry Leaders
Crisis Connections and The Washington State Hospital Association are now offering free training for all professionals and volunteers who work with youth between ages 10-24:

  • Networks for Life - A 3-hour certified training for youth suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention.

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid - An 8-hour certification course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

E-mail for more information.
And share this number with your youth:
Teen Link (866-TEENLINK) is a confidential and anonymous help line for teens. Trained teen volunteers are available to talk with about any issue of concern. No issue is too big or too small! Teen Link is a program of Crisis Connections.
Youth, Youth Leaders, Volunteers & Parents
Follow Diocesan Youth on Social Media
For the latest Youth Faith Formation info and events, go to:
And be sure to "Like" Episcopal Youth of Western Washington, our Facebook page...
Re:Turn to your Soul
A Creative Liturgy to Welcome Fall
St. Luke’s, Renton continues its remarkable seasonal liturgies online. All are invited to celebrate the autumn equinox, Tuesday, September 22, 7:00 p.m. And this year St. Luke's makes the most of its digital reach by collaborating with St. Andrew's by-the-Sea Episcopal in San Diego, CA and St. Andrew's Episcopal in New London, NH.

Re:Turn will feature music, poetry, and videography from across the country—and one of our own young adults, Josh deLacy, crafted the video (see right) and interactive streaming page. To read Josh's article about the story behind these unique liturgies, click here. To learn more about Re:Turn click here.
"Seminary for the Rest of Us"
Podcast Brings Theology into the
21st Century
Sabrina Reyes-Peters loves learning about theology and religion. With a Master of Divinity, she often turns to podcasts on these subjects. However, she has found that most require background knowledge, so she has created her own podcast, "Seminary for the Rest of Us," to break it all down.

She describes her podcast this way: "I invite scholars, theologians, and otherwise knowledgeable folks in their fields, to briefly chat about their areas of interest, without so much scholarly jargon. This is God-talk for everyone."

You can also enjoy Sabrina's intelligence and wit through her blog and through a 2 minute Stories of Quarantine video she recorded for the Diocese where she discusses, "Is it Christian to Have Negative Emotions?"

Sabrina is a member of the Bishop's Young Adult Advisory Team and a regular at Epiphany, Seattle.
Follow the Diocese's Young Adult Facebook Page
Be sure to "Like" and encourage the Young Adults in your congregation to "Like" Episcopal Young Adults of Western Washington .
To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
By Mary Oliver

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
  though with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

Excerpt from "To Begin With, the Sweet Grass" as published in Evidence: Poems (Beacon Press, 2010).
Alex Flannagan
Youth Ministry
Program Coordinator
Sue Tait
Director, Resource Center
Grace La Torra
Dean, Iona School
Welcome, Amanda!
Amanda Fergeson
Seattle Service Corps, 2020 - 2021
Valerie Reinke
Canon Missioner for Faith Formation:
35 & Under
Faith Formation | The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | 206.325.4200 |