So, when the opportunity arose for me to be a student again through the Certificate in Youth & Family Ministry program and the Faith Formation Academy, I quickly filled out the application. When I bought my textbooks in August, I got really excited. And when we started our classes, I was ready to learn... again.
I view my own continuing education as a journey, and I have the opportunity to walk alongside a great group of people as I continue this journey of personal growth and development.
Last week our cohort (there are a total of 12 of us from across the country) met in person with faculty and guests in the Chicago area. Words cannot describe the experience I had both in class and as a member of the community we have created together. I have pages and pages of notes and resources, and a ton of new websites to visit for inspiration and even more learning. (Look for more blog posts on these new resources in the coming weeks!) I also had the opportunity to further build my network: both with youth leaders in my own diocese, but also by expanding my network by connecting with youth leaders from across the Episcopal Church. Through prayer, discussion, fellowship, and learning we re-dedicated ourselves to our ministries, helped each other think through problems, shared resources, and created a strong network of support and care.
One of the reasons why I miss being a student is because there is so much that I can still (and want to!) learn: about God, about the world, about ministry, and even about myself. Being a part of this certificate program has given me the opportunity to do all those things, and more. By the time we finish in January, I will have engaged in reflection on Scripture in ways that I never have before. I will have been challenged to ask "Big Questions" and think about my theological convictions. I will have the opportunity to think about my own ministry and develop a plan for running a sustainable and growing program.
My journey in this program is not over yet, nor is my continuing education journey. Who knows what is next for me after I have completed this program. For now, however, I am grateful for the opportunity to grow professionally, personally, and spiritually. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the journey with people who are dedicated to ministry and who reveal God's presence to me through word and action.
There is still so much out there for me to learn... the journey is just beginning.
How do you continue to learn and grow through continuing education opportunities? Share with us your experiences in the comments section below!