I helped develop this approach to Episcopal adult Christian formation in collaboration with the catechumenate* team in the Diocese of Milwaukee (1988-1990). The result was a parish team workbook (co-edited) and video (produced and edited). The video content was recorded over the three-day lay/clergy parish training event. The Diocese of Milwaukee revised this material in 1994. I am in possession of both workbooks and have transferred the 1994 video from VHS to digital.
St. Matthias Episcopal Church, my parish in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ran the lay led/clergy supported Living Our Baptismal Covenant (LOBC) process of Adult Christian formation for eight years beginning in the Fall of 1996. Over this time, over 100 adults found a deeper connection to their faith and one another. What follows is an overview of the LOBC process with the dates adjusted for the 2016-2017 program year.
*In ecclesiology, a catechumen (/ˌkætᵻˈkjuːmən, -mɛn/; via Latin catechumenus from Greek κατηχούμενος katēkhoumenos, “one being instructed”, from κατά kata, “down” and ἦχος ēkhos, “sound”) is a person receiving instruction from a catechist (teacher) in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism. LOBC moves away from this technical definition and jargon in order to embrace not only those seeking baptism but adults who desire to renew the baptismal or confirmation commitment of a younger, less mature age. The LOBC “teachers” are trained and gifted laypersons supported by the clergy.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a process that allows adults to deepen their Life in Christ within the Episcopal tradition.
LOBC is adapted from an ancient process by which adults were prepared for entry into the Christian faith and life by Baptism. In the time of the early church this process took three years and culminated with Holy Baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter.
Baptism today does not require a three year study time and most of the LOBC participants have previously been baptized. This adapted process allows for people who are just coming into the life of an Episcopal Church, people just coming into the life of the parish, and people who have been a part of the life of the Episcopal Church and the parish for many years to journey together.
LOBC is For Whom?
Adults seeking Life in Christ within the Episcopal tradition
Adults preparing for Baptism
Baptized adults who seek Confirmation
Adults who have made a profession of faith and wish to be received from some other Christian denomination
Adults who wish to reaffirm their baptismal vows in a special way
An LOBC Meeting?
The curriculum is one of experiences, built around small group Bible reflection, individual prayer and reflection, and corporate worship.
A typical session agenda:
- 15 minutes – Gathering
- 10 minutes – Large group worship
- Opening activity
- 40 minutes – Small group
- Bible study
- 10 minutes – Break/snack/social
- 35 minutes – Large group teaching
- 10 minutes – Closing prayer
What Commitment Must I Make?
You are encouraged to attend the Gathering and the Inquiry Phase on a trial basis. During these months you will be making the decision to continue the process or not.
You are asked to attend the classes regularly, to notify the group of any necessary absences, and to notify a team member if you decide not to continue the process.
Those deciding to continue the process into the Formation in Christ phase will sign the “Roll of the Committed to the LOBC Process” at the 10:30 AM worship on December 16, 2012. A holiday break follows and the process continues January 6, 2013.
How Long is LOBC?
LOBC meets Sunday evenings from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM in parish hall. Child care is provided in the nursery during those hours. The five stages of the process (along with specific meeting dates) are outlined as follows:
GATHERING: September 11, 2016
While Gathering is actually an on-going phase of the process that leads to the Gathering Meeting dinner on September 11, 2016, much work and prayer has been done in the months before. This not the only night you can choose to enter the LOBC process. Other participants are encouraged to join the process up through mid-November.
INQUIRY: September 18 – December 11, 2016
No meeting October 16th
A time for raising questions, exploring Christianity and examining the Anglican tradition.
FORMATION IN CHRIST: January 8 – February 26, 2017
No meeting Super Bowl Sunday February 5th
Exploring issues of belief and each participant’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Exploration of your own faith story in light of the gospel story and the witness of the saints.
DEEPER FORMATION: March 5 – April 16, 2017
Transition to Deep Formation on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Personal spirituality is explored using a meditation called “Hunger of the Heart.” A deeper commitment is made to liturgy, daily prayer and Lenten discipline. LOBC participants are given the opportunity to be fully involved in the activities of Holy Week with special emphasis on The Great Vigil of Easter (April 15, 2017).
FORMATION IN MINISTRY: April 28 – 30, 2017
Retreat away from the parish
A time of reflection and identification of ones own gifts for ministry; and beginning to understand how those gifts can be used in service in our daily lives.
What Living Our Baptismal Covenant (LOBC) is and is not!
By Edna Thomas
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is led by the laity of the church.
LOBC is not the rector’s “pet project.”
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a process of spiritual formation for adults.
LOBC is not an eight month class in being an Episcopalian.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is coming to a realization of God’s work in our lives.
LOBC is not making “cookie-cutter Christians.”
Living Our Baptismal Covenant brings us to an understanding of our relationship with others, in our church, our families, and in our workplaces.
LOBC is not a clique of preferred members.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a discovery of the similarities in our lives with the lives or our biblical ancestors.
LOBC is not psychotherapy.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a model of an intentional, sharing, community of faith.
LOBC is not a forced intimacy with strangers.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a recognition and embracing of the Holy Spirit in ourselves and in others.
LOBC does not make us “better” than others.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is for all adults wishing to develop a deeper awareness of their life with Christ.
LOBC is not for “new members” only.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a commitment to live out the promises we make at Holy Baptism and restate in the Baptismal Covenant.
LOBC is surely not a waste of eight months.
Living Our Baptismal Covenant is a personalization of those promises, whether through Confirmation, Reaffirmation, or Reception.
LOBC is not designed to impress the Bishop on his visit.