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e-Formation Conference to return to VTS June 2–4

3/11/2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Media Contact: Kyle Oliver
Tel: 703-461-1885
Email: koliver@vts.edu

Alexandria, Va. – The Center for the Ministry of Teaching (CMT) at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) is sponsoring e-Formation: A conference on faith formation for a connected, digital world June 2–4 in Alexandria. The annual event began in 2012 to fill a leadership and training need in the faith formation/Christian education community.

Last summer, almost 200 Christian educators and communicators, lay and ordained and from several denominations, converged on VTS to learn from experts and peers about using technology for forming faith in congregations and other ministry settings. Many of these participants will return to an expanded 2014 program at the Washington, DC-area seminary in what is expected to be an even larger gathering.

“The first e-Formation was strictly a learning exchange,” says Lisa Kimball, CMT Director and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership. “We knew we didn’t have all the answers about faith, learning, and technology, but we knew many friends and colleagues were thinking carefully and working hard. We brought them together to teach each other.”

In 2013, the event expanded to a full-fledged professional and missional development conference. The 2014 conference features a yet larger slate of well-known speakers and exemplary practitioners, as well as a creative menu of participatory workshop formats and topics.

These include intensive courses on Google tools and video production; introductory sessions on blogging, online learning, and digital curriculum resources; break-out groups organized by ministry setting and age group; and two public evening presentations about the big picture of using technology in faith learning.

“Last year, keynoter Sarah Lumbard of National Public Radio offered a church outsider’s perspective about building online community,” says conference coordinator and renowned faith formation expert John Roberto. “For e-Formation 2014, we sought out prominent faith leaders to stimulate our thinking about challenging issues in faith and technology.”

On June 2, founder and director of G-dcast Sarah Lefton will describe her journey from religious illiterate to prizewinning Jewish educator—a story involving cartoons and a cobbled-together team of teacher friends from the arts world.

She will be followed on June 3 by Bruce Reyes-Chow, a speaker, blogger, and Presbyterian teaching elder who will discuss race, technology, and the church. Reyes-Chow’s most recent book, But I Don’t See You As Asian, was supported through the online crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

Other speakers and workshop leaders include Roberto, Kimball, church social media expert Meredith Gould, editor and curriculum specialist Sharon Ely Pearson, blogger and Lent Madness founder Tim Schenck, church Google gurus Robbin Whittington and Randall Curtis, online learning consultant Julie Lytle, and digital missioners Edgar Giraldo Orozco, Colin Chapman, and Kyle Matthew Oliver. The full working list of workshops and facilitators can be found here.

Ultimately, e-Formation participants are more important than the speakers, according to conference organizers.

“What’s special about e-Formation is the enthusiasm of the community of learners,” says Oliver, digital missioner in the CMT and program developer for the conference. “In my experience, faith formation and communication ministers are kind of done with all the hand-wringing and just want to get on with the business of helping the church thrive within our new cultural realities. This event is all about that kind of dynamic training and inspiration.”

The conference rate of $348 includes meals, the evening sessions, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s conference program. Student rates and limited on-campus housing are available. Registration is now open and is expected to fill quickly. More information is available at www.eformationvts.orgThe hashtag for the event is #eform14.

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Founded in 1984, the Center for the Ministry of Teaching promotes research and development to improve teaching and faith development practices in the Episcopal Church. The CMT serves faith formation leaders, clergy, teachers, and other leaders through a ministry of convening, resource curation, consultation, and training. They publish reviews, commentary, profiles, and tutorials every weekday at www.keyhallonline.org.

Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.