The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) took care of business during its annual meeting as a corporation on Feb. 5, installing as its new president Zeta Lamberson, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia. The organization also installed its first leadership council – consisting of 96 members who form 9 committees. Lambertson quipped that this council is twice the size of the average Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation.
APCE treasurer Charlotte McGowan reported the status of a 3-year “evergreen” plan – aimed at creating financial sustainability for the organization. After multiple years of operating in a deficit and having drawn $45,000 from the endowment in the past year, the endowment funds have been paid back in full and plans are in place for improved sustainability, McGowan said. According to her report, the evergreen plan goals are to have 1,000 APCE members by 2017 (there currently are 765 members); to create member organizations (such as churches, seminaries and mid councils); and to promote partnership programs. Plans are in place to generate income (through endeavors such as web ad sales), McGowan said, and this is the first year the organization’s annual meeting is on target to generate a net profit.
Other highlights of the APCE meeting on Thursday included:
Brian Blount continued teaching on the fourth chapter of Mark’s gospel. In the morning plenary session, Blount continued his teaching on Jesus’ calming of the storm in Mark 4, drawing on the conference’s theme of “Fear not.” Blount stressed that Christian educators don’t just have storms coming from outside their boats, but blowing up from inside, too. He asked people to consider what exterior and interior forces they see pushing against Christian education and asked, “Is fear itself our greatest internal storm?” Blount reminded participants of Jesus’ words in Mark 3:35: Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. Likewise, he said, Christian educators do the work to which Jesus has called them. “Therefore, you are his brother and sister and mother.”
Educators honored. An evening ceremony honored Pam Engler and Marilyn Hein with APCE lifetime achievement awards. Engler spent many years promoting education in congregations in partnership with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Hein served as associate executive presbyter for education and mission in the Presbytery of New Hope for 20 years, advocating for education and educators.
Kathy Dawson was recognized as APCE educator of the year. After spending nine years as a public school teacher, Dawson served as a director of Christian education and later an ordained teaching elder and professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary. She was instrumental in Columbia’s creation of a doctorate of educational ministry degree program. She also served as writer, editor and consultant for the PC(USA) “We Believe” children’s curriculum. In her remarks at the awards presentation, Dawson unveiled hope4ce.net, a new multi-platform sharing site she has created for the exchange of ideas and lesson plans among Christian educators.
Technology used well… and not. Interactivity has been a conference buzzword this week. In his morning presentation, Blount invited responses to various questions to be submitted and projected immediately using TodaysMeet. Asking, “What’s on the other side for Christian education?” responses varied from words of hope to “unemployed ex-educators that wouldn’t adapt.” After unveiling her new idea-share website, Dawson asked for the crowd to tweet what gives them hope in Christian education, using the hashtag #hope4ce. Using a complimentary one-night license she received from TweetBean, she projected responses onto a large screen for the audience to read.
Fortunately, most conference attendees were able to submit answers via cell phones; public wifi is not available in workshop rooms or other conference spaces.
Workshops and market place surged with energy. The exhibit hall bustled with activity as conference attendees chatted with camp and conference representatives, curriculum publishers and denominational staff. They picked up Frisbees and pens… and every last issue of the Outlook! Workshops covered a multitude of topics including perfecting the children’s sermon, practicing audio divina and conducting a poverty simulation with youth.