September 30, 2011

The number of resources for Christian formation online, in libraries and from publishers is overwhelming. Keeping on top of new products, daily blogs, self-published materials and idea exchanges is getting harder and harder to do. In the past, we could select resources that were theologically and developmentally appropriate in a specific setting by knowing the major ecumenical publishing firms.
Educators tell us that Sunday school teachers are frustrated with curriculum that doesn’t work for them or their learners often head to the Internet to find fresh ideas and new ways to relate the Gospel message to modern life. Not surprisingly, results highlighted by Google and other search engines often do not reflect the theological teachings of the parish or the Episcopal Church.
A rector from Arkansas called recently with the question: How do I find good resources from the Episcopal Church? He had come across a free, downloadable resource for adults and older youth created by The Episcopal Church called Catechism of Creation (http://ecusa.anglican.org/documents/CreationCatechism.pdf), and assumed there were probably other materials on other subjects if he just knew how to find them.

His question echoes the discussion we are having about the Key Hall Resource Center at Virginia Seminary and the primary topic of conversation for resource center directors across the country. What IS the role of a center with a physical collection of resources and trained personnel in a digital age? I don’t have a simple answer for this rector or our other patrons. My first instinct is to provide a list of the websites and blogs that I trust, including our own, www.vts.edu/cmt. But this is only a first step.
We’re discerning a future for Key Hall that builds on our strengths and embraces the astounding assets of Web 2.0 and beyond. We believe that intention and discernment are critical dimensions of sound Christian formation. There is great value in shared inquiry, focused theological reflection, and personalized one-on-one service. While the media of resource development and delivery will continue to change, the Gospel message will remain true. Our goal is to connect more practitioners with theologically, developmentally and culturally-sound resources and practices. Stayed tuned. The new Key Hall is emerging!

—Dorothy Linthicum, Program Coordinator/Instructor