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Reflections on the Anglican Family Symposium

The energy and passion in the room were tangible on October 15-17, 2015, in Plano TX, as more than 80 participants gathered at Christ Church Plano for the Anglican Family Symposium. While there was much diversity of ministry and professional roles among the participants, there was also unity in our purpose—to explore the role and revival of the domestic church and family catechesis in contemporary society.

The symposium centered on four keynote speakers, five break-out sessions, roundtable conversations, and facilitated group discussions, as well as daily morning and evening prayer.

The inadequacies of the current curricular-driven, age-segregated, programatic models of Christian education were acknowledged. There was a renewed sense of urgency to articulate a hope-filled, counter-cultural, life-giving Biblical theology of marriage, family, and singleness to an increasingly broken, fragmented, and lost society.

How can we as a corporate church, communicate who we are, who God is, and what gives our lives, work, and relationships meaning?

The implications of the prevailing model of the Church as a purveyor of spiritual goods and services were addressed, along with the challenges of changing the culture towards a renewed vision and reclamation of authentic discipleship. This will be a long walk, with no quick fixes or tidy overnight solutions.

The need to model healthy, redemptive relationships and marriages as God’s solution to the isolated brokenness, egocentricity and hyper-distracted lives of today’s adults, youth, and children was also addressed. The self-satisfying temptations are as much an enemy of the Gospel as in Paul’s day (2 Timothy 3), and the church must provide an effective response.

The significant points that emerged through the weekend to guide us forward included seeking creative and contextual ways to:

  • Be unashamedly and explicitly grounded in the Gospel and Good News of Christ, with a solid foundation of biblical literacy;
  • Be intentionally relational and inter-generational both in worship and discipleship by equipping parents, grandparents, godparents and sponsors to both tend to their own spiritual needs and pass that faith on to those in their family, and allowing children to grow up in the church as full participants, formed by the liturgy and worship;
  • Recapture the ethos of what the symposium called “domestic church” as a place for discipleship, mission, healing, and reconciliation within the extended church family; and
  • Be missional and keep our eyes on the goal (Hebrews 12) by investing in healthy family and personal relationships (not as an ends, but means). While essential, we cannot stop at brotherly love, but rather seek to push on to our conformity to the image of Christ, demonstrating the sacrificial love of the Gospel (2 Peter 1).

Where do we go from here?
In the coming weeks, AnglicanFamily.com will post the videos of the keynote speakers, along with summaries and resources from the breakout sessions. Additionally, the Family Catechesis working group, along with the Catechesis Resource working group, will begin to post blog articles and materials for parents, parishes and dioceses, clergy and laity, to help resource and equip as we continue the conversation.

Planning for the Anglican Family Symposium Fall 2016 is already underway, with more details coming soon!

By Julia-Marie Halderman
Julia-Marie Halderman, PhD, serves as a member of the Family Catechesis Group.

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