Q. What is Confirm'18?
A. It is a series of weekend retreats for young confirmands of the United Methodist Church and for the adults, counselors and mentors that accompany them on their confirmation journey. These weekends are sponsored by the Foundation For Christian Formation and the Pfeiffer University Department of Religion. Each event is led by a team of United Methodist resource persons: Rev. Chris Hughes, MDiv, DMin, UM pastor, author and musician, the Rev. Kathleen Kilbourne, MA, UM Deacon, Director of the Masters of Arts in Practical Theology at Pfeiffer University and Coordinator of the Center For Deacon Education, a Wesley Theological Seminary / Pfeiffer partnership, Ed Kilbourne, MDiv, nationally known recording artist, storyteller, worship leader and folk-theologian, and the Rev. Gloria Hughes, MCE, UM Deacon, Christian Educator, musician, sacred artist and Executive Director of the Foundation For Christian Formation. These events have been endorsed by hundreds of pastors and leaders of the UMC, among them Bishop Larry Goodpastor, Bishop Ken Carter (Florida Conference), Bishop Hope Ward (NC Conference), Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor (Holston Conference) and Bishop Jonathan Holston (SC Conference).
Q. Who and what is the Foundation For Christian Formation?
A. The FCF was formed as a non-profit foundation in 2005 by Chris & Gloria Hughes and Ed & Kathleen Kilbourne, to design and lead events that invite people to follow Jesus Christ and encourage and equip them as Christian disciples.
Q. What is the relationship between the FCF and Pfeiffer University?
A. Pfeiffer University is a United Methodist undergraduate and graduate university whose mission statement is "to be recognized as the model church-related institution preparing servant leaders for lifelong learning". The Department of Religion offers undergraduate degrees with tracks in Youth Ministry, Missions and Christian Education. The Masters of Practical Theology program further prepares career adults for a variety of fields in Christian ministry. Chris Hughes, one of our event designers, was the pastor of the UM Village Church at Pfeiffer as well as the Pastor to the University and Kathleen Kilbourne is currently the Director of their Masters of Arts in Practical Theology degree and also the coordinator for the Center For Deacon Education. The former president of the University, Chuck Ambrose, and the previous Dean of the Department of Religion, Ed Trimmer, encouraged Chris and Kathleen to establish and lead the Confirm series.
Q. What are the goals and main features of the Confirm'18 weekends?
A. Confirm'18 is designed to help confirmands claim their identity as Christ-centered people in Christ's Body, the Church, as they move towards owning for themselves the faith claimed on their behalf at their baptism. Program features include:
~ Interactive workshops focused on the vows of membership in the United Methodist Church, "Promises To Keep -- Our Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service & Witness"
~ Exploring and understanding the sacraments of Baptism and Communion, preparing to answer the claim and call of God in our lives
~ Our signature "stole making" small group process through which we help confirmands record highlights of their faith journey and witness to their emerging faith in their own words and symbols
~ The culminating service of Receiving the Stoles - a sign of calling and commitment as part of the "ministry of all Christians"
~ Music performed and led by recording artists, Chris Hughes, Ed Kilbourne & Gloria Hughes
~ Gospel storytelling by nationally known folk-theologian, Ed Kilbourne
~ Process teaching with career Christian Educators and UM Ministers, Kathleen Kilbourne & Gloria Hughes
Q. What is the schedule for a Confirm'18 weekend?
A. The normal weekend is a 3-day format, beginning Friday evening and ending Sunday morning. We have four large group sessions - Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning. After the Saturday morning session and into the first half of Saturday afternoon, team members lead interactive workshops drawn from the vows of UM tradition and membership - our disciplines of supporting the church through prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. The rest of Saturday afternoon is open for free-time activities. If the conference facility has UM related places of interest such as the museums at Lake Junaluska, your group may want to plan a tour.
Q. Are any parts of the weekend optional?
A. No. If a participant, youth or adult, can not attend from beginning to end, 8:30 Friday night through 11:00 Sunday morning, attending every session, they must wait to attend a weekend when they can be present for the complete event. Participants (except for pastors) can not join the event after it begins or leave an event before the close. The content and group relationships build from beginning to end and arriving late or leaving early significantly impacts the confirmand and the event community. While it is said there are exceptions to every rule - there are no exceptions to this one. Okay, one exception. Pastors who must return to their church for Sunday morning services. Even then, we prefer that they stay and take part in the closing worship and blessing.
Q. Are there any guidelines or restrictions on the ages of confirmands?
A. Youth should be the equivalent of 6th grade or older. In our experience, while 11 & 12 year olds may be ready to begin the confirmation classes, many, if not most children this age are too young to grasp concepts or invest in experiences inviting them to Christian discipleship and church membership, such as take place at a Confirm Retreat. And they may not have the maturity to take that final step of confirmation and church membership until they are 13 or older. The desire to be confirmed is a free and informed response to the invitation of Jesus Christ and His Church. Too often, church, parent and peer group agendas push young people along and they are unclear as to what they are doing or why. A forced response is meaningless to the church and to the child and they may become resistant or at least indifferent to participation in confirmation classes or events such as our retreats. Having said this, we realize that the majority of UM churches confirm young people around the age of 12 and therefore this age group does attend our retreats. Care should be taken to be sure that the youth that come on a confirmation retreat have made the decision to participate on their own.
An over-night retreat with pre- and early teens may be the first such trip they have made. Commitment to structure, discipline and to the schedule is expected and important. Combine a lack of commitment or maturity, undeveloped social skills, with too little sleep and too much sugar, and you are in for a very long and difficult weekend. Experienced supervision must be in place and behavior covenants announced and agreed to before you leave home.
Q. What do we expect of the adults that participate in a Confirm'18 weekend?
A. An FCF Confirmation weekend experience is as much for the adult counselors and mentors as it is for the youth. Adults that attend must participate in every gathering and activity. A Confirm'18 weekend will have a deep spiritual impact on each adult and will equip them in their ministry with youth and in their Church. Their role in the culminating service of Receiving the Stoles, is one the adults will never forget.
Q. What do we expect to happen in the local church to prepare confirmands for a Confirm'18 weekend?
A. It is assumed that confirmands already are or will be in a process of Christian Education (confirmation studies or classes) in their local church designed to help them understand and respond positively to an invitation to Christian discipleship and church membership.
Q. What do we expect to happen when confirmands return to their church after a Confirm'18 weekend?
A. They will continue in their confirmation studies and process and be more motivated and prepared to respond positively to the invitation to Christian discipleship and church membership. However, it is not assumed that they will do so right away or ever, if that is their choice. For that decision to have true validity, they may have to continue on the journey until such a time as maturity and intention have developed to the point that they can make their profession of faith in their own words, in their own time.
Q. Is there any relationship between the FCF weekends and the other confirmation events at Lake Junaluska?
A. No. The Confirm'18 series is led by the Foundation For Christian Formation in partnership with the Department of Religion of Pfeiffer University. Sometimes there are other organizations and individual churches using the Junaluska conference facility for confirmation events the same weekend. While confusion is understandable, signing up or checking in with the wrong organization can be more than just embarrassing. It can be a great disappointment. You must register through this website. Check in for your event will be at Shackford Hall. Registration for Confim'18 is done only through this website, with FCF Director, Gloria Hughes.
Q. How might an FCF event differ from weekends offered by other groups?
A. FCF has an intentionally distinct design for the leadership, content and schedule of its confirmation weekends. First, the Confirm'18 retreats are events for United Methodists so our team is made up exclusively of United Methodist ministers, UM Christian educators, and UM resources with membership and credentials in the UM church. Each of our up-front people have over 20 years of experience in large and small group process, as communicators, worship leaders, teachers and artists. Second, we design our events to engage both the young people and the adults that accompany them and we in turn encourage and expect full participation and respectful behavior by every participant. Third, we make the "stole-making" track a part of each large group session, Friday night through Sunday morning. This experience, adapted and redesigned by Chris Hughes, continues to be held in high regard by those who have been in confirmation events led by Chris, Gloria, Ed and Kathleen through the years. Finally, the size of each FCF Confirm'18 weekend is limited to 176 participants. In our experience, when confirmation weekends are larger than this, the content is compromised and the attention span and participation, in other words the quality of the weekend, is compromised.
Q. What is the cost of a Confirm'18 weekend?
A. There are different plans and packages. Please consult the registration form of your event for details. A deposit is required to register. The balance is paid to Lake Junaluska Assembly for your food and lodging plan. Deposit - $70 per participant. Approximate food & lodging per participant - $105 (4 to a room), $115 (2 to a room), $145 (single).
Q. How can I register my group and what does it cost to register?
A. Registration for Confim'18 is done on this website with the FCF Director Gloria Hughes, NOT through the Lake Junaluska conference center. A non-refundable registration deposit ($70) is required for all participants. We can not reserve rooms or guarantee your participation in an event until we receive your completed registration form and deposit.
Q. What are the provisions for cancellations or individual "no shows"?
A. While we realize that a variety of circumstances arise that can change your plans or the size of your group, remember that when you register, we begin saving a place for you and turning others away. For this reason, registration deposits are non-refundable. If a group brings fewer people to an event than were registered, the registration deposits for the "no shows" can not be refunded.
Q. Will there be a Confirm'19 series?
A. Yes. The FCF/Pfeiffer team plans to lead confirmation events through 2020. The dates of these events, as well as registration info, will be available on this web site. Registration for the following spring, opens in the summer on August 1.
Q. Is there someone I can talk to for questions I may have about the Foundation and its Confirm events?
A. Yes. Please call Gloria Hughes at 704.438.2840 or email her: email@example.com