A group of pilgrims at Epiphany, Rumford, has completed an eight-month journey — through a series of books. All 46 participants “graduated” at a Pentecost celebration at Epiphany June 9.
They participated in a Pilgrim Series program, based on a series of short books from Church Publishing that help both long-time and new Christians “explore what it means to travel through life with Christ.” The first four books focus on how to be a follower; the second four explore how to grow into that identity.
“We wanted to help form disciples,” explained the Rev. Jennifer Zogg, Epiphany’s rector. “Our members had tired of Christian formation in an episodic approach. The Pilgrim Series helped us find something more consistent that can deepen our spiritual formation.”
Epiphany was able to use the program in part thanks to a grant from the diocese’s Congregational Development Commission (CDC).
“The CDC wants to support church programs that not only help with Christian education in the congregation but also benefit the diocese as a whole — and other churches in particular,” said CDC member Toby Fields. “We liked this request for several reasons. It was well thought-out and organized, supported ‘The Way of Love,’ could be integrated into the diocesan Leadership Institute, and came from a church with people willing and able to help other churches.”
Zogg said Epiphany made adaptations to the original program, using lay facilitators along with her leadership. “It was an opportunity for them to learn and grow as people of faith,” she explained. “Sometimes they led sessions alone and other times worked in pairs. I also asked them to keep a journal about what they were doing during the week. I also supplemented the books by creating homework sheets for participants, and we did a lot of marketing within the congregation.”
Each session began and closed with a prayer from one of the books, followed by a centering activity such as a song or silent meditation. YouTube video clips supplemented the discussions and other activities.
“The Pilgrim series is grounded in scripture, tradition and reason,” Zogg explained. She said the group learned along the way that group work is critical — table conversations, activities, etc. “It builds fellowship and community,” she noted. ”There’s so much good content in these books that we could have spent even more time than we did. I could see a small group doing this throughout a church program year.”
Epiphany pursued this course as a pilot, she said, and is happy to advise other congregations about how they might adapt them to their context. In fact, the church has a dozen sets of the books and is willing offer them to congregations interested in this program. To arrange that or learn more about how your church could use Pilgrim, contact Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.