As I sit reflecting on the Hebrews passage for the APCE’s 50th Anniversary gathering on an otherwise gloomy day, when our world is virtually shut down due to the COVID-19 virus, it would be easy to lose hope. The past few weeks have had me dealing with the death of my husband and soulmate, and now things shut down almost entirely due to the virus. This passage from Hebrews has been my salvation as I reflect on where my deep faith has brought me – and will continue to take me.

My faith involves so many of my ecumenical experiences both within the APCE organization and in other places. Many of you who know me know my passion for faith formation, and the importance it plays in all our lives.  It has definitely been a vital part of my “Circle of Faith: 50 Years and Beyond,” and it always will be.

When I started work for the tiny Moravian Church in1986, it was a challenge to offer this denomination access to quality faith formation resources. There was a wealth of great leaders with creative ideas, but it fast became apparent that the only way to be able to share in their knowledge was to become part of the many ecumenical efforts that were formed.

With a history as a strong educational community and of being a “heart “religion, the Moravians would become a vital asset in an ecumenical partnership that involved curriculum writing. I became connected, enriched, empowered, and sustained through this ecumenical involvement that continues even into today. I am so much better equipped to resource people through the connections and involvement I have had with curriculum partnerships, leadership partnerships, and many instances of faith formation partnerships.

At the same time, I realized the value of ecumenical partnerships, I worked closely with educators in my own denomination. My colleagues were often considered low man on the totem pole in regards to being a ministry leader in their congregations.  Not in my eyes, though. I wished for them to be valued so much more for the great work they were doing.

In 2007, I spearheaded a campaign for the Moravian educators to become members of APCE, an organization very near and dear to my heart. I had been involved with APCE since 1979 and had gained so much from my involvement. In 2008, at the Annual Event in San Diego, a team of Moravians took the step to request membership in APCE. We told many about our denomination and what we could offer. I had the privilege of tying the Moravian ribbon onto the APCE lamp of learning.

Since that event, we have had groups of educators from the Moravian Church attend the Annual Event, serve on the Cabinet and Leadership Teams, conduct workshops and will have a co-chair of the 2022 Annual Event. We introduced APCE to the Moravian tradition of lovefeast at the Louisville Annual Event. Our relationship with this very vital organization has enriched the role of educator in the Moravian denomination. We have made steps in advocacy for educators in the denomination. None of this would have happened unless APCE was willing to open their doors to ecumenical partnerships. Thanks to God for all the opportunities that have come our way.

As we continue to be part of this organization and continue to connect, enrich, empower, and sustain faith formation in the future, I close with the hope I find in Hebrews 12:1-2.

Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way,

All these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better go on with it.

Strip down, start running – and never quit

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Beth Hayes

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries. She has worked in Presbyterian and Moravian congregations as an educator and served on many ecumenical committees during her years as an educator. She resides in Winston-Salem, NC.