Each year, we create special space in Ministry in Context to shine a spotlight on current internship projects. This month, we are profiling the adult faith formation project of Intern Pastor Miriam Samuelson-Roberts, serving at Augustana Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN with Rev. Mark Aune. As you read about and learn from Miriam's internship project work, we'd like to invite you to share your own internship project learning with the community! Email Karen Gieseke (email@example.com) if you have an interesting internship project experience -- either a smashing success or a scary hiccup! -- that has proven to be a great learning experience for you!
Without further ado, please enjoy learning Miriam's recent interview with Contextual Learning Associate Karen Gieseke.
Intern Pastor: Miriam Samuelson-Roberts
Internship: Augustana Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN
Dates: 9/1/15 - 8/21/16
Internship Project: "Adult Faith Formation at Augustana: A Curriculum"
Karen: Why was this project subject of interest to you?
Miriam: "I have been struck by how many congregation members at my internship site have remarked, 'I wish I could go back and take confirmation classes again because I don’t remember what we learned,' or 'I always forget about that part of biblical history and need to be reminded about it in every sermon,' or 'I want to keep questions of faith and the Bible fresh in my mind.' I am interested in adult faith formation because I believe learning is cyclical, not linear, and that hearing stories and facts and frameworks in different contexts and at different points in one’s life allows for deep and multi-layered learning."
Karen: Why is your context a good fit for this project?
Miriam: "Right away when I started my internship, I heard some staff members express a desire for a comprehensive adult faith formation curriculum, one that integrated courses that had already been taught with some new classes, all organized with a theological and pedagogical lens. I also began to hear congregation members echo a similar desire, with specific questions about things they had learned in confirmation. Many parishioners in my internship context put a high value on life-long learning and want to delve deeply into texts and history to better understand faith in their own lives."
Karen: Why might this project be of interest to your fellow interns?
Miriam: "My hope is that this project opens up a framework for thinking about adult faith formation for my internship site and for fellow interns. My project is partly hands-on through the teaching of a class called Everything You Learned in Confirmation But May Have Forgotten, and it also entails research on curricula, best practices, and contemporary thinking around adult faith formation."
Karen: Can you share with us an outline of the what, who, where, purpose, and hopes of your internship project?
- What: 1) A confirmation review class for adults titled “Everything You Learned in Confirmation but May Have Forgotten” that uses Martin Marty’s Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers as a guide; and 2) an overarching adult faith formation that incorporates previously taught classes at my internship site and is organized with a theological and pedagogical framework.
- Who: The confirmation review class is for adults of any age; the curriculum will be left with the staff to tweak and implement after I leave.
- Where: Within the congregation of Augustana Lutheran Church.
- Purpose: To engage adults in faith formation that meets them where they are pedagogically, spiritually, theologically, and personally.
- Hopes: That those engaged in adult faith formation will come away from courses with a vision for how their faith and learning might be lived out in their daily lives.
Karen: What have been the outcomes and transformations from this project?
Miriam: "Several members of the Everything You Learned in Confirmation But May Have Forgotten class stayed after each class to talk further about some of our discussions around Lutheran history and theology, biblical texts, and the Trinity. In listening to them talk after our formal class discussion, I heard about the ways they wanted to delve into historical context more, ways that their experience of worship has changed now that they notice all the times the Trinity is referenced, ways that they want to move into a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a church that practiced reformation 500 years ago and a church that practices reformation today."
Miriam teaching the "Everything You Learned in Confirmation But May Have Forgotten" class at Augustana
Karen: What have been the outcomes and transformations of this project for you personally?
Miriam: "I too found myself wanting to continue the conversation after the class, and I am touched and transformed by these parishioners’ commitment to reflection and learning and making connections between biblical/theological/historical study and their daily lives and relationships. Researching best practices and pedagogy around adult faith formation has given me a framework through which I can engage questions and begin to outline outcomes."
Karen: What “image” exists in your memory from your internship project experience?
Miriam: "During one class of “Everything You Learned in Confirmation But May Have Forgotten,” class members took time to draw or write or think about their image of God, either from childhood or adulthood. This exercise was old hat for some, and for others, it was the very first time they had done it. Listening to each person’s images, feelings, and stories of how they experienced God was humbling and fascinating. Many in the class commented later that one of their favorite parts of that class was learning how their fellow parishioners experienced God."
Karen: How might this project experience influence your ministry in a settled ministry call?
Miriam: "Adult faith formation seems to be a field that is changing and emerging in new ways, and I look forward to continuing to delve into the theory, pedagogy, and theology behind it. I hope that wherever I end up in a settled ministry call, I can continue to engage the curiosity and questions of adult learners!"
Thank you, Miriam, for sharing about this great project!
Again, you enjoyed learning from Miriam's internship project work, we'd like to invite you to share your own internship project learning with the community! Email Karen Gieseke (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have an interesting internship project experience -- either a smashing success or a scary hiccup! -- that has proven to be a great learning experience for you!