church educators are the best

Just got back from a three day gig selling books to a lovely crew of Presbyterian church educators. There are stories to tell about the location, but that can wait. We lugged oodles of kids books, children’s resources, educational curricula, books on children in worship, helping parents understand how to teach children not only about God’s saving grace but about the sacraments which are the “means of grace.” We took theology books—we were at a prestigious seminary and I was nervous about the high-level professors that might stop in (none did)—and Biblical studies, spiritual formation and liturgical aids, stuff about the arts, pop culture, teen ministry and pastoral care. We draped cloth and set up wooden boards and, even with a kiln and a sink in the room, we turned it in to a fine temporary bookstore.
A serious-minded Princeton prof who himself has great sympathy for the pedagogical needs of the church, Gordon Mikoski, helped us think about Calvinism and sacraments (and part of his one talk reminded me of my last blog posting, about food and daily faithfulness in the sacramental nature of ordinary stuff.) I have much to think about and his work on Calvin’s high eucharistic theology is impressive. (Man, he even cited the extraordinary book by William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist.)
Kenda Creasy Dean spoke on youth work—I wanted to tell her how when her first book, Soul-Bearing Life came out we touted it as the most important book on youth ministry written in our lifetime.
The daily Bible study on Ruth was by a leader in the Society for Biblical Literature, Katherine Doob Sakenfield, who wrote the Interpretation: Ruth commentary and a recent study of women in the Old Testament, Just Wives.
Freda Gardner, long a friend of APCE, spoke on ministry to the elderly; her book Living Alone is a practical guide and it is good to have church leaders of her stature speak so caringly and practically. It was a good event.
Most of all, these educators care about resources, need books to use in their varied ministries, and treated us so very, very well. Daughter Stephanie and I took in some talks, met some authors, gabbed a lot and appreciated the lavish gifts—thanks for the chocholate!—and brisk sales.
If you have church school educators in your congregation, thank ’em. If you have paid staff doing educational ministries, youth min, training nursury helpers, working with the aging, doing the educational and programming work of formation in your church, support them any way you can. They work hard, they take great joy in their efforts, and, at least these Eastern APCE folk, love Hearts & Minds. I hope you treat them well.
Just for fun, I’ll show a couple of the kinds of books I took to this gig. These are regular sorts of things here at the shop, even though I tend to blog about other kinds of books. If you find yourself thinking that they could be helpful, just let us know. As I said in the April website column, we love the church and want to serve our congregations in ways that help them thrive.