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Education/Christian Formation at Emmanuel Episcopal Church

At Emmanuel, we call our educational programs Christian formation because we offer more than simply classes. Whether we are participating in a Bible study, a service event, an opportunity to teach, an adult forum, or a youth meeting, we are being formed as a community of faith and as disciples of Jesus Christ. In roles as teachers and participants, we are all students together. Emmanuel is dedicated to providing a wealth of opportunities for Christian formation, from forums on broad topics to classes promoting discipleship on a more intensive level.

Seasonal offerings for adults, children, and youth include Advent and Lenten studies, periodic book groups, and summer forums for discussion of lectionary readings. As Emmanuel continues to grow each year, we change our schedule of classes in order to offer new and exciting opportunities for Christian formation. Check out the Announcements in the weekly bulletin in the Worship folder, for more information and to view specific details of our educational offerings.


Adult Forums take place on Sunday morning at 9:15am, from mid-September to mid-May. The forums vary widely from discussions of our Anglican heritage and the worldwide communion to presentations on theology and liturgy in other religious traditions. We welcome all to attend. Join us for coffee, community, and a lively discussion of topics relevant to our faith. 

Classes are often offered during the week on various topics.  For more information, see the folders on the left, and Announcements in the weekly bulletin in the Worship folder.

EFM (Education for Ministry) is an intensive course of Bible study and theological reflection offered in the format of a small group. The EFM group meets weekly for discussion of coursework and prayerful group reflection. This four-year course of study is one way adults might continue to deepen their faith journey both intellectually and spiritually. You can read more about EFM at http://www.sewanee.edu/EFM/index.htm.


EYC (Episcopal Youth Community) is for 6th-12th graders. Our youth gather regularly on Sunday evenings for fellowship, for Bible study and to participate in service activities. We also come together for many special events planned throughout the year, like the Halloween party, the Christmas party, and our graduation celebration. We also have spiritual retreats and fun trips, as well as the various diocesan youth conferences offered annually (read more about these at http://www.thediocese.net/Ministries/Youth_and_Camps). Parents play a crucial role as volunteers and role models and are strongly encouraged to give of their time as leaders, retreat chaperones, and teachers. At EYC, we are committed to the life of community to which Jesus calls us as friends to each other and servants to the world. Formation in this program provides youth the opportunity to serve, to learn, to teach, and to lead as full members of our church community.

Confirmation classes are offered periodically for adults and youth ages 16 and older for those, according to the Book of Common Prayer, are “ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the Bishop” (pg. 412). The classes reflect the sentiment of this strong commitment of one’s faith, and center on the themes of Episcopal theology, Bible study, and one’s personal experience of Jesus Christ.


Sunday school is available for our children and youth each Sunday at 9:15-10:15am, from mid-September to mid-May. Classes for children focus on relevant themes of formation in the Anglican tradition, Christian worship, the liturgical calendar, and basic concepts of faith. Classes for youth offer Bible study and discussions on the Christian faith lived in the midst of current events, other religious traditions, and everyday life. Youth and children are invited to grow in their faith through these classes and become more inquisitive and informed disciples of Christ.

Children’s Chapel is held on Sunday mornings during the 10:30 service. Children are invited to share in a reflection on the morning’s scripture lessons, music, and crafts in the downstairs classroom area. Children’s Chapel allows for children to worship God in their own unique ways and to connect more fully with the lessons of the day.

Bible school is held annually, for students ages 4-12. Children share in times of Christian formation through the use of crafts, song, dance, and games centered on a specific theme. Youth in grades 6-12 are invited to assist teachers in this fun time for our church and our children.


Educational Objectives and Goals for Emmanuel Episcopal Church

1) Biblical Literacy: This is more than merely knowing Bible facts. This means understanding the stories as a part of the broad theme of the Bible and how all of the Bible informs us with an intriguing and exciting Salvation History that points to Jesus Christ as revealing God’s love and desires for his whole creation. All of the “begats” should actually lead us to the great “Behold!”

2) Understanding our Anglican Heritage: Being able to articulate why we say what we say and proclaim what we believe. If someone stopped you in the supermarket and asked, “Why are you an Episcopalian? What does your church believe?”, what would you say? We should all be able to explain why our faith community is the Episcopal Church and why we profess to be linked with every Christian and see ourselves as being a community of Christ for the rest of the world.

3) Understanding why we are a Sacramental Community and why we use our liturgical forms and the words we say in our worship. This means taking seriously our words about Stewardship, spreading the Good News, loving and accepting all people into God’s Grace.

4) Understanding how we personally fit in with our smaller and extended community. What is our individual responsibility to others, to Emmanuel, our neighbors, Harrisonburg, the world? How do we personally grow in Grace? How do we nurture our unique individual faith story? How do we work together as a unique individual and are yet bound in unity with other unique individuals?