I got interviewed for a podcast, y'all!
Since its debut in the fall, I have listened to the Episcopal Youth Ministry in ATL podcast. It is produced by my colleagues in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The podcast is for youth workers, and they have already covered a range of topics in a short amount of time. It's a great listen, no matter the episode!
Recording the conversation for this podcast was a fun and exciting way to spend an early morning at the Forma Conference in January. (The first question asked was if I am a morning person-- and yes, it's true-- I'm only a morning person when I need to be!) In my opinion, there's no better way to start a morning than with a conversation about practical theology at 8 AM before the start of a full day of conference-ing.
Our conversation centered around the research and writing that I did with my capstone project. I first led a session youth ministry and mountaintop experiences at the Episcopal Diocesan Youth Workers Gathering in September, and right after my presentation Easton (the producer) asked if I would record an episode about mountaintops, youth ministry, and how we create sacred spaces for young people to encounter God. It was a fun morning and I am grateful for the opportunity to share the work of my capstone project with not only the team from ATL, but also with the wider church.
A few highlights of our conversation:
You can listen to the entire podcast episode here or by searching for Episcopal Youth Ministry in ATL on Buzzsprout, iTunes, or Google. If you like this episode, consider subscribing to get future episodes--these guys produce content regularly, and it's all good!
What do you think about mountaintop experiences and youth ministry? Are they beneficial? Are they harmful? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Two weeks ago, we were excited to welcome the Forma Annual Conference to Indianapolis. It was a long but exhilarating week! The theme for the conference was Formed to Proclaim: Conversations on Liturgy and Evangelism. The conference program invited us to reflect on the intersection of liturgy, evangelism, and faith formation in our ministry contexts. All of the speakers challenged us to think about the role of liturgy in our ministry contexts, and how liturgy forms us to be disciples of Jesus and share the good news with others.
As a part of this conference, I was delighted to lead a workshop on experiential worship and setting up prayer stations. Conference participants joined me to discuss experiential worship, its place in faith formation, and to brainstorm ways that we can use hands-on worship in our various ministries. It was a fantastic workshop and participants had some great ideas on how they can integrate prayer stations into their contexts.
Below you will find some photos of the various prayer stations I set up. We did this workshop in a hotel ballroom, so I was limited in some of my supplies. This was a great way to show people how you can set up prayer stations and create sacred space in any context! With a few adaptations, we had a sacred place for worship and prayer.
In trying to illustrate all of the different ways to set up prayer stations, I showcased ten, about half of which I designed for children and families, and the other half I designed for youth and adults.
(DISCLAIMER: None of the photos are mine; I was much too busy leading the session to snap some pictures. Thank you to the workshop participants who shared these with me!)
Here you will find links to the resources that I shared with workshop participants:
I hope these resources are helpful as you consider how to use prayer stations in your ministry context! If you have questions or want to see other examples of curated prayer stations, please contact me.
Thanks, Forma, for inviting me to share this with our network! Look for more reflections on the Forma Conference sometime in the near future. :)
One of the greatest joys I have working in a diocesan ministry context is that I get to work with people to create sacred spaces and opportunities for personal spiritual growth and reflection. Although I love working with children and youth, I also love sharing my gifts and talents with other generations.
People have told me that writing and curating prayer station content are gifts of mine. These are also some of my favorite things to do! I love it so much that I even included some samples of my work in my portfolio of original content that I published earlier this year.
When I was asked to lead a workshop at the fall Diocesan women's retreat, creating a prayer room was the first thing that came to mind. The theme for the retreat was Food, Faith, and Justice, so I sought to create a space that invited women to reflect on Scripture texts and imagery of our faith that relates to food, food justice and gathering in community. Although I had one hour on the schedule to lead participants through some contemplative prayer in the room, we kept the prayer stations up throughout the weekend for women to revisit and use for personal prayer time.
I began the workshop time with a brief guided reflection using the practice of lectio divina. This included a reading from John 6 and an excerpt from the book Take This Bread by Sara Miles. You can see the whole outline of the workshop here. I asked women to meditate on the words, phrases, or images that stood out to them from the readings. Then, I invited them into a time of contemplative prayer, either using the prayer stations as a guide, or engaging in individual prayer or meditation.
Below are photos of the prayer stations I created, along with a brief description of each All of the stations are outlined in the document linked above.
Leading this workshop was a fantastic experience! I enjoyed creating these prayer stations, especially because I haven't curated a prayer space in a long time.
Are you interested in learning more about experiential worship and how to curate prayer stations for all generations? I am excited to lead a workshop on this topic at the upcoming Forma Annual Conference in Indianapolis. Register to join us in January!
This week I traveled to Kansas City for the annual Diocesan Youth Workers Gathering. Once a year, all of the Episcopal diocesan youth ministry workers gather together for a time of networking, continuing education, and mutual support. I was honored to lead a session about my capstone project and engage in a time of discussion about the topic of mountaintop experiences with good friends and colleagues.
It was a great experience and the conversation was fantastic! I am so grateful for friends and colleagues who are willing to engage in conversation about the meaningful faith formation experiences we provide with young people, and how we can partner with congregations to process deep spiritual experiences after they have occurred.
Here's a link to my presentation, if you would like to see the slides!
If you haven't read my capstone paper, it can be found on this webpage. A one-hour workshop only starts to cover all of my reflections on this topic!
There was so much other good information to come out of our gathering. I need some time to process it before I can share my reflections!
One of the hardest parts of working in my context is having to "expect the unexpected." (In other words, coming up with a new plan when things don't go the way you planned them.) As someone who likes to know what is happening and when, it is extremely frustrating when I make a schedule and then everything is turned upside down and what was planned doesn't end the way I think it should.
Case and point: last weekend the diocesan Youth Steering Committee met for an overnight retreat, mostly to get to know our team and begin planning our fall diocesan youth event. I had things mapped out: dinner, games, singing around a campfire, a Saturday morning hike to Ghost Town--and it was all going to be fun! We never really followed the schedule though... because, well, we moved into a different direction.
On Friday night our group began playing the board game "Betrayal at the House on the Hill." (Ironic because we were spending the night at Waycross' retreat house on Hickory Hill...) The way I would explain this game is that it is a cross between Clue and Dungeons and Dragons (if that's even possible.) It's not the kind of game that I would normally play, but everyone could play it, so we did.
I had never played this game before, but being the youth minister that I am, I agreed to try it out. What was going to be a couple of hours of board games turned into what consumed our time for most of the night-- and into the next morning. (Luckily, a thunderstorm hit in the morning, so we couldn't do our hike and could finish our game instead...)
Even though playing this game for the time we did wasn't on the "schedule," it was actually a good bonding experience for the group. We laughed, shared stories, and made memories over vampires chasing people around this haunted house (even my character became a vampire...) Even though we spent way more time than I had anticipated playing this game, the time we spent was worth it. Plus, it gave us something to do while the thunderstorm passed through!
I know that not every event I coordinate will go 100% "according to plan." God's reminder to me this weekend was that, even when ministry plans don't work out the way we want them to, the ministry still happens! God is still there and is revealed through every activity and relationship. I needed that reminder this weekend.
Victoria Hoppes is the Camp Director at Waycross Episcopal Camp and diocesan youth ministry coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Learn more about Victoria here.