Cover Story

Faith forming faith: Learning from new Christians

Kathryn was in her forties when she first came to our congregation. She said she was looking for "something spiritual." As it happened, we had something specific to offer her: a place in our catechumenate. For 15 years, the congregation had offered a yearlong intentional time of faith formation. As a result, a loving sponsor, a caring catechist and a committed congregation walked alongside Kathryn as she explored what it means to follow Jesus.

The catechumenal process includes weekly meetings on Sunday evening. After a family-style meal, candidates and their sponsors gather into small groups for Bible study. These sessions focus on the preaching text for Sunday morning, on the life of faith that is modeled in the scriptures and on the questions that inquirers bring: Who is Jesus? What is prayer, and why pray? How do the stories of scripture apply to my life?

In Lent, the candidates and their sponsors stand before the congregation each Sunday to receive the community's prayers and support. They receive gifts representing Christian worship and formation—a hymnal, a copy of the creed and a catechism. These public rites offer candidates the final opportunity for discernment prior to being baptized or renewing their baptism at the Easter Vigil.