At Good Shepherd we talk about "faith formation": not just filling the head with facts, but helping each other become more and more the faithful people God invites us to be. Faith formation is a lifelong process. Those of us who were baptized as children get to spend the rest of our lives living into what that means. Those of us baptized later in life get to experience the joy of learning about the Christian faith on the way to baptism and then continuing to live our faith from there.
Some of this happens through learning basic content: What is the Bible, and what is it for? What is The Book of Common Prayer, and why do Episcopalians use it? Who is Jesus, and what does he have to do with God who created everything? And how can we claim to know and understand any of this in the first place?
But some of it happens through practice: weekly worship together, personal prayer at any time, a habit of continual learning, and relationships that affect our understanding of God. We do such learning both in age groups and intergenerationally.
Children are always welcome in worship, no matter their age. Indeed, our weekly worship together is our primary source of faith formation. Kids learn how to be in church by being in church. And if they're noisy, know that the sound of their voices is music to the ears of many older folks!
Far from being a typical Sunday school program, Godly Play is a wonder-filled, story-centered approach to Christian faith formation primarily for children ages 3-11. We tell sacred stories from the Bible to help children become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives. Children are encouraged to respond to the stories through play and art as they come to know God in ways that are specific to their stage in life. Godly Play takes place each Sunday after the 10:30 service: kids join the adults in Seaman Hall for a snack and then proceed to the Godly Play room with our storytellers.
Youth Ministries and Activities
Our young people in grades 6–12 are involved in all aspects of worship and community. They participate and grow in faith as they serve in our weekly worship. They are also invited into a network of opportunities for youth regionally, through frequent events shared with other Episcopal churches and through other organizations like Camp Huston, the Episcopal summer camp and retreat center in western Washington. Youth who serve in the church or take part in regional youth programs are learning important life skills as they deepen their trust in God's guidance.
During our quarantine, we identified Wednesday evenings as a perfect time to hold classes for adults online. Many of these have been banked on our YouTube page, and you can subscribe and watch them anytime. We continue to hold many classes on Zoom because that makes it easier to gather folks together. Look to our calendar to see what events are happening currently.
It's a funny, made-up word, but it describes well a vital quality that Good Shepherd offers for people's lives. Learn more about our vision for intergenerationality here.
Dismantling Racism Together
The Church of the Good Shepherd is actively involved in education about the history of racism in the U.S. and how we as people of faith can do our part to dismantle it. In 2022-2023 we are using a curriculum called Sacred Ground from the office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. And we are guided in our ongoing efforts by our diocesan Covenant to Root Out Racism.
The Chancel Choir
The great first-century Christian bishop Saint Augustine famously said, "When you sing, you pray twice." Music is an area that lends itself especially well to intergenerational formation. Our small but spirited Chancel Choir is recruiting new members. The group is assisted by choral scholars from the University of Puget Sound.
All Good Shepherd parishioners who work regularly with children, and anyone who holds a key to our buildings, must stay current on a certification called Safe Church. Our Safe Church policy works to ensure, for instance, that no child is ever alone with an adult in church settings.
Diocesan Faith Formation
Learn more about the Episcopal Church.