The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | Spring 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.

Welcome Alex!
The last time we published the Faith Formation e-news we were saying good-bye to Denise Brumbaugh, and now, with this edition, we welcome Alex Flannagan to the position of Diocesan Youth Ministry Coordinator!

It may read like a smooth transition, but days after being interviewed, COVID-19 shut everything down and a hiring freeze ensued. Alex waited, generously volunteering his time in the meanwhile. Not even two weeks ago he was made official. I am grateful to him for hanging in there and for his essential faith in the process!

Here's a brief bio., though many of you may know Alex through his time at Camp Huston. I'm already appreciating his energy, leadership skills, and ready sense of humor:

Originally from the UK, Alex first joined the Diocese twelve years ago as a camp counselor at Camp Huston - the Diocese of Olympia’s summer camp and conference center in the Cascade mountains. After graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a Bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management and Marketing, Alex joined Camp Huston as the full-time, year-round Program Director. In 2018 Alex moved to Olympia, became involved with St Christopher’s church on Steamboat Island, and started working for a non-profit supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Alex’s biggest passions are music, the outdoors, and leadership development.

Feel free to reach out and welcome Alex at !
-- Valerie Reinke
By Bishop Greg Rickel
I have just finished reading, Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein. 

The book is all about the most intriguing long relationship of Chief Joseph (buried in Washington State) and General Howard, who was the one charged with moving Joseph -- whom he considered a friend -- off his land, and the great injustices that happened to the Nez Perce tribe.

The Nez Perce, under Joseph, were peaceful, friendly, and accommodating, even so, in the end, they were truly done-wrong.  But the nuances in this relationship are the fascinating parts: how each believed they were doing what was best, and yet none of it, ultimately, was for the best. It highlights their regrets, and once again points out the injustice of the white man's response and actions. It is a most interesting history and I highly recommend it.
Better Together: Virtually Yours
Better Together was one of the Diocese's first event casualties of the pandemic but our keynote speaker, Sharon Ely Pearson , quickly rebounded, recording her keynote address as a webinar and her workshops as Zoom meetings. Many thanks to those of you who took part!

Enjoy and feel free to share these offerings wherever you would like:

Sharon Ely Pearson
Follow her at

"It has been great to glean from Sharon’s insight, slides and handouts during the sessions she has presented.  Thank you for your efforts to get us all 'together.'"

Mary Nilsen
Children & Family Ministry Coordinator
Redeemer, Kenmore

"Thank you for developing these meeting opportunities for those of us who care so much about the faith formation of our children and youth. I find the ideas presented so valuable, especially to those of us from small parishes who don’t always find others who have the same passion to share..."

Suzanne Hierholzer
St. Andrew, Aberdeen

Know of another upcoming conference that you think would be of interest to others?...

Would you like to attend one of these or know someone in your congregation who might benefit? Ask about our partial scholarships...

Conferences in 2020
NOW VIRTUAL (AND FREE!): June 23 - 26 - Young Adult and Campus Ministries Leadership Conference , hosted by the Episcopal Church. "An opportunity for leaders in ministry with young adults and college students to be nourished and nurtured..." Registration deadline: June 8 .

October 2 - 3 , Texas - Evolving Faith Conference - "A gathering for wanderers, wonderers and spiritual refugees." Especially effective for young adults who were raised in an evangelical church and have landed in the Episcopal church.

October 5 - 8 , Colorado - Cross+Gen Life Conference The focus is on "cross-generational" or inter-generational programming. "I intend to go...I've become increasingly curious about these sorts of adaptive changes in faith formation." -- Kelly Moody, Saint Mark's Cathedral

October 11 - 13 , Seattle - Liturgical Visual Arts Conference , hosted by CIVA, Christians in the Visual Arts. "Join us in exploring how we use visual expressions to praise God within the liturgy."
Bishop Rickel To Recognize H.S. Seniors
The Diocese of Olympia would like to recognize high school graduates for their perseverance, for their struggles in these unprecedented times, for their continued optimism, and for their bright futures, with a special event led by Bishop Greg Rickel. Please forward the link for "Launch" to the seniors in your congregation.
6-Day: High School Summer Camp Goes Virtual
Camp Huston has closed for the summer but 6-Day will still happen! The Diocesan Youth Council is planning a camp-at-home experience with extraordinary creativity and ingenuity. Stay tuned for more information.
Youth Pilgrimage Postponed to 2021
The Pilgrimage Planning Team and our island church partners are in agreement: a pilgrimage needs to be experienced without a screen. So save the dates for next year -- August 1 - 7, 2021 -- when we'll explore the San Juans the way we had originally planned it!
Diocesan Teens Hangout on Zoom
Monday & Wednesday Nights
Share the news: Diocesan teens are gathering via Zoom for youth-led fun and games on Monday nights and a simple compline with music on Wednesday nights. Both evenings start at 7:00 p.m. and last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. All in grades 6 -12 are welcome.

Contact Alex with any questions:
Youth, Youth Leaders, Volunteers & Parents
Follow Diocesan Youth on Social Media
Stay current on upcoming events and youth related news!

Be sure to "Like" Episcopal Youth of Western Washington , our Facebook page... Also Follow us on Instagram @ecwwyouth

This Wednesday
Godly Play In A New Way
Join this timely workshop via Zoom, this Wednesday, May 27 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. You'll observe a virtual Godly Play session and then get guidelines and practical tips for how to do Godly Play in this new, digital context. The Reverend Kay Flores will draw from her own experience, and that of other trainers from around the country, in making recommendations on how to lead virtual sessions.
You're Invited:
Children & Families Ministry Leadership Meeting
Whatever your role in Children's Ministry -- staff, volunteer, clergy, advisor -- you are invited to join a dynamic group of practitioners from around the diocese for a regular quarterly meeting. Next up:

Wednesday, June 24
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Zoom Meeting

This month, in addition to our usual time for sharing and planning, we're featuring a guest speaker: Crystal Goetz has been in ministry for over 10 years with experience with children, youth, families and young adults. She is currently the State of Washington's regional coordinator for Messy Church USA. Crystal will take us through a Messy Church session and then explain how this (mid-week? Saturday?) intergenerational approach might just work for your congregation.
Just in case you missed these...
  • How are You Reaching Out to Children & Families
Right Now?
Finding families overwhelmed by Zoom-based schooling means that churches have to employ an extra measure of creativity to stay connected during shelter-at-home.

Hear from the Diocese of Olympia's leaders in Children & Families Ministry about how they're continuing to reach out and check-in with meaningful programs and activities.
Webinar from the Diocese of Olympia, originally presented May 13.
  • Vacation Bible School: A Panel Discusses Options
(Including Cancellation) for VBS 2020
Vacation Bible School is a flagship event for Christian formation in many churches. As we live into the pandemic, the question is: how do we move forward?... Do we cancel altogether? Should we offer the full programming via Zoom? Would people use activity bags for pick-up at the church? We find ourselves wondering, “NOW WHAT?!”

Seasoned formation leaders Sarah Bentley Allred, Toni Luc, and Jason C. Stanley provide tips for making decisions about VBS in your own context and discuss how they plan to move forward in theirs.
Webinar, from the Virginia Theological Seminary, originally presented May 7.
Looking Ahead to Fall:
New Curriculum Charts &
A New Normal
By Sharon Ely Pearson

Every March or April I update my curriculum charts for children’s and youth ministries. This year it has been done in fits and starts as I wondered if they will make any difference now. As we begin a new normal in planning, we need to consider that most likely we will be still social distancing come a new academic year. When churches DO open back for worship, life will be different – sitting farther apart, no touching, perhaps no singing, and most likely no Church School in classrooms. This may be the tipping point in which Sunday school will have a quiet death. Read more...

Safe Church Training
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.

Young Adults Share Their
Stories of Quarantine
Each week during the pandemic, our diocese's young adults are sharing a glimpse into their quarantine lives and grappling with questions related to their faith -- all in snappy two-minute videos. Check them out here and track them in Across the Diocese :

 Michael  - Michael Perera discusses "Why do some Christians not trust science or the medical community?" Michael has been living in Seattle since 2005, and has been with the Episcopal Church since 2015, serving on the vestry of Saint Mark's Cathedral since 2017.

Sabrina  - Sabrina Reyes-Peters discusses "Is it 'Christian' to have negative emotions? What if you’re not feeling 'grateful'?" Sabrina is a member of Epiphany Parish, where she serves as a Eucharistic minister and is a member of the St. Gabriel’s Guild, Epiphany’s communications ministry.

Katya  - Katya Nemec discusses "How do I care for the most vulnerable in my congregation?" Katya is the associate for children, youth, and family ministries at Emmanuel Church on Mercer Island. 
Looking Ahead...

Questioning Together  - Monday, June 1 (first Monday of the month, dark for the summer) – A supportive group that discusses questions of faith and meaning. Zoom meeting hosted by Saint Mark's Cathedral. 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. E-mail or follow on Facebook .

A Holy Waste of Time Retreat - Friday - Sunday, August 14 - 16 - Designed for young adults who need some down-time. Kick back and enjoy the waterfront lodgings at Saint Andrew's House, Union. Gourmet meals and optional activities like kayaking and hiking round out the weekend.
Follow the Diocese Young Adult Facebook Page
Be sure to "Like" and encourage the Young Adults in your congregation to "Like" Episcopal Young Adults of Western Washington .
Just Ask A Librarian...
By Sue Tait

QUESTION: Pentecost is coming this Sunday (May 31st) and of course we are providing what we can online now, or not at all. Do you have any ideas of how I should proceed? I know you are not sending books out yet.

SUE SAYS: There are some specific helps for people presenting Sunday School online. As you know, we’ve been saying to each other for some time that faith begins and is primarily nourished in the home. As we live into our virtual world that fact become more and more evident and is filled with both challenges and opportunities.

The journal “Building Faith” is one of my favorite resources and currently presents “Pentecost in a Box." This site presumes family interaction and instruction, pointing out that Pentecost is the 50th and last day of the Easter season. Read more.
A Poem for My Daughter
By Teddy Macker
It seems we have made pain
some kind of mistake,
like having it
is somehow wrong.

Don’t let them fool you—
pain is a part of things.

But remember, dear Ellie,
the compost down in the field:
if the rank and dank and dark
are handled well, not merely discarded,
but turned and known and honored,
they one day come to beds of rich earth
home even to the most delicate rose.

From This World (White Cloud Press, 2015).
Alex Flannagan
Youth Ministry
Program Coordinator
Sue Tait
Director, Resource Center
Grace La Torra
Director for Adult Faith Formation
Dean, Iona School
Aemelia Tripp
Seattle Service Corps
Faith Formation & Communications
2019 - 2020
Valerie Reinke
Canon for Faith Formation:
35 and Under
Faith Formation | The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia | 206.325.4200 |