Snapshots of 2013 at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching
Snapshots of 2013 at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching

I have long admired the nature photography of Minnesotan Jim Brandenburg. In an extraordinary book call Chased by the Light, Brandenburg shares a deeply personal project.

He set out to capture the essence of remote Northern Minnesota across the ninety days between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. And he allowed himself to take just one photograph a day. Chased by the Light is a bold, breathtaking, and stunningly beautiful invitation into the world Jim calls home.

Had I set out on January 1, 2013, to document the spirit of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching with an equivalent measure of care, here are images I pray my eye would have captured. (Imagine they were taken by a professional photographer!)



Dorothy & her students in South Africa

Our friend and CMT colleague Dorothy Linthicum and her husband, Tom, travelled to Grahamstown, South Africa, in early January to spend ten months as visiting faculty at the College of the Transfiguration.

We sorely missed Dorothy’s curricular expertise and formation wisdom this year. She actually knows exactly where things are in the CMT archives!

But more importantly, we are deeply thankful for Dorothy’s commitment to embody the mission of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching to serve the wider Anglican Communion, and for the partnership she renewed with her colleagues at Transfiguration.


Vivamos la Biblia photo

In response to Latino congregations’ request for Sunday School training in Spanish, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the CMT sponsored Vivamos La Biblia (Living the Bible) on February 9. More than seventy participants spent a full Saturday at St. Matthew’s, Hyattsville, learning to teach Bible stories in fun, interactive ways!


Vacation Bible School photo

Thanks to Kellee Wattenbarger’s project coordination, the Center for the Ministry of Teaching VBS Reviews and Fair were a total success! This annual initiative has become one of the CMT’s signature programs. Watch for the 2014 reviews in February here on Key Resources.


Digital Media for Ministry class

Marrying the need for digital literacy among church leaders and our commitment to model faithful digital practices for faith formation, Kyle Oliver and I offered our first course in Digital Media for Ministry.

In a semester-long independent study, seven VTS students extended their confidence and creativity using digital media for a context-specific education program. One of the students, Chris Hamby, is now working with us in the CMT extending our digital footprint by developing and monitoring our Center for the Ministry of Teaching Google+ page and writing reviews for this blog.


e-Formation speakers

In late May, the CMT hosted its second annual e-Formation Conference. With the able event coordination of friend and colleague John Roberto and a team of gifted practioner-presenters, nearly 200 people participated in a combination of our one-day digital skills bootcamp and/or the two-day conference on innovative uses of digital media for faith formation.

Thanks to gifted leaders from the Episcopal Church in Province IX (dioceses in Latin America) presentations were in Spanish and English. Sarah Lumbard, Vice President of Content Strategy and Operations at NPR, expanded our vision and inspired our imaginations.


John Roberto & Randall Curtis

If I were to use one word to describe the work of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching in 2013, it would be partnership. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we work together!

This has been a year of deepening relationships and new initiatives to foster Christian formation in the church and public square. Thanks be to God for our creative, faithful partners:

This doesn’t even begin to list the individuals, congregations, schools, dioceses, ecumenical colleagues, sister seminaries, and experts in digital communication who have reached out to us with great ideas, helpful feedback, or requests for resources that have inspired our productivity.


Isabella's Twitter photo

We had an awesome summer intern, Isabella Blanchard, who took “duties as assigned” to a whole new level! With her quick wit, playful imagination, strong writing skills, and confident presence, she stepped right in to our workflow.

Isabella wrote podcast study guides, generated content for our social media platforms, edited and laid out three books (!), and provided hospitality at CMT events and for patrons in Key Hall.


Inspired by John Roberto’s work to promote faith formation networks, and cognizant that many congregations are struggling to sustain quality face-to-face Christian formation, we invited interested practitioners to work with us on a pilot project: the Hybrid Faith Formation Network Initiative.

In true action research style, we practiced what we were studying. The Center for the Ministry of Teaching provided the coaching, and the participants provided the contexts. We hosted monthly Google+ Hangout sessions, built and shepherded a Google+ Community, assigned readings, and facilitated discussions. Participants identified a target group and developed a plan to meet that group’s faith formation needs using hybrid (blended face-to-face and online) faith formation methods.


Key Resources screenshot

Early fall brought a flurry of new projects, among them the release of our new centerpiece blog—which you’re reading right now. Key Resources gives us a dynamic, thoughtful web presence as curators of faith formation resources.

We are building a team of regular contributors, and our steady growth in followers suggests we are stimulating worthwhile conversation. It doesn’t hurt to have your digital missioner (Kyle Oliver) be an accomplished writer and keen editor.


Jason's Easter People Instagram

Kyle’s enthusiasm for podcasts finally spilled over into official Center for the Ministry of Teaching business with the launch of Easter People: Hopeful Conversations about Faith and Culture. Joining with Randall Curtis and Jason Evans, we record two sessions a month and are having a blast! Give us a listen and tell us what you think.


We took the CMT on the road—even more than usual—in November. From the academy to Episcopal clergy (are they mutually exclusive?!), Kyle and I told the story of dynamic Christian formation at the heart of the church’s mission.

We presented on our Hybrid Faith Formation Network Initiative at the Religious Education Association annual meeting in Boston, and to clergy conferences in the Dioceses of Arkansas and Milwaukee.


Locke Bowman

It is fitting that my last entry for 2013 be a photograph of the CMT founder and first director, the Rev. Dr. Locke E. Bowman, who died November 14, 2013.

Locke was a leader and innovator in Christian education and curriculum development whose spirit and extraordinary work ethic inform the work we do everyday. His ashes were interred in the VTS cemetery during a beautiful committal service with his family on December 7th. May light perpetual shine upon our friend and mentor. We miss you, Locke.



Jim Brandenburg works alone. I do not. In 2013, I was blessed with a dedicated team: Cindy Coe (interim editor, Episcopal Teacher), Chris Hamby (student, digital media editor), Kyle Oliver (digital missioner and learning lab coordinator), and Kate Siberine (student, graphic content and Episcopal Teacher layout and design).

Together we wish you a blessed Christmas and hope-filled New Year!

Lisa Kimball (@kimball_lisa) is director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and professor of Christian formation and congregational development at Virginia Theological Seminary.

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  1. It has been a honor to work with you all and I look forward to the great work that will continue to happen here. I am blessed to have so many smart friends who keep me around for laughs and tech work. I look forward to see what 2014 brings.