Date: June 30, 2022
Baptized for Life (BFL)/Vida en Abundancia (VEA), one of several Lilly Endowment Inc. funded grant initiatives housed in the Department of Lifelong Learning, continues nurturing participating congregations across six dioceses through a baptismal and vocational lens, focusing on catechumenal basics: Lectionary + Liturgy + Life. We will never know how our original project design would have formed confident Christian vocations in a pre-COVID-19 world. But what we do know now, after our fourth year accompanying the same congregations through ongoing accelerated uncertainty, is that forming mature faith takes time. Equipping people with spiritual practices that fundamentally challenge the taken-for-granted rhythms of American society requires trusted relationships, spaciousness, and patience. Our project’s emphasis on being over doing, deep listening, and discernment, has provided a life-giving way through the anxiety, fear, and loss many congregations are experiencing.
Now in our fifth and final project year, BFL/VEA congregations are modeling resilient discipleship practices. Many are becoming teaching congregations in their dioceses and some in the wider Episcopal Church. As our time with these specific lay-led congregations ends, the fruit of BFL/VEA will inform other projects within Lifelong Learning, specifically our most recent grant launch, the Mutual Ministry Initiative (MMi). Rooted in the ministry of the baptized, MMi is a collaborative and explicitly biblical (Acts 2) framework that seeks to leverage the strengths and address the challenges of a residential, denominational seminary to meet the urgent need for clergy and lay leaders trained as ministry developers in local, culturally specific contexts. In the coming months, leadership teams from BFL and MMi will offer a symposium on Baptismal Ministry while aligning our website content for robust resource sharing to support call, vocation, and collaborative leadership models as we work to honor the gifts of all.
Kim Arakawa, M.A.
Project Manager, Mutual Ministry (MMi) and Baptized for Life (BFL) initiatives