In early January the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania lost a vital member and stalwart women of faith. Mrs. Enid Bishop, a winner of the Bishop’s Cross, inspired many by her faith. You can read Enid’s obituary at GoErie.com. Her granddaughter, Missy Greene, has written a post, below, describing the influence that her grandmother had on her.
In the field of Christian Formation, we often talk about the importance of modeling faith for others. It is, in fact, a crucial part of our life-long faith development, especially at an early age, but really spans throughout a lifetime. How do we learn to do things if they are not modeled for us first? It is true for all aspects of our life, which is why being in community with other people is so important. In every interaction you are being formed. This is why the vocabulary has shifted from Christian Education to Christian Formation, because it encompasses more than just the formal retaining of information from expert to learner. It’s about the fullness of being formed into a disciple of Christ through everything that we do, formally and informally, intentionally and unintentionally.
I am fairly certain that I would not have obtained a Master’s Degree in Christian Formation in order to work for the church if I had not first been formed by the people around me. There are plenty of people who have had a hand in that, but if I had to pinpoint people, it would start with my grandma, Enid Bishop – and, of course, my grandpa, Don. It is hard to talk about one in this respect without talking about the other, as they were both faithful servants that dedicated their lives to God and the church.
As a family, church is just what we did – every Sunday. Church was an extension of our family. The Sunday service was always followed by a meal at my grandparents’ house, crowded around the dining room table. I always got stuck on the corner next to my grandma… always.
But it was not just about attending church and sitting amongst the crowd at St. Mary’s. We were active. Grandma was in the choir, a lector, an LEM, on altar guild, and Bishop’s Committee. Grandpa was an usher and helped with upkeep of the property. Stand. Sit. Kneel. Pray. Sing. It was all modeled by those around us. The message was pretty clear: we come here every Sunday and worship God because it is important and meaningful to us. The grandkids, of course, fell into the roles of acolyte, attended Sunday School faithfully, and did all manner of other things that we were told to do.
Examples of faithful living were not limited to Sundays or inside the church. My grandparents were also very active at Brevillier Village. I have great memories of helping grandpa at the little store on their campus and attending Wednesday Eucharist with grandma. I saw first-hand their willingness to serve others in a place outside the walls of St. Mary’s.
In partnership with Brevillier, Enid set-up a monthly meal program at St. Mary’s that not only served food, but also created a community for those who attended. I remember doing the place settings, checking in the guests, riding in the van that picked up the guests, serving plates of food, and sitting with the people, getting to know them. Each of these opportunities, and so many more, is what helped form me as I grew into my own understanding of faith and service to God, but these opportunities would not have happened for me without the encouragement from my grandparents and parents to be involved.
Over the last two months, I have been able to see just how far my grandparents’ ministry reached by all the love and support shown to our family during this difficult time. We are so thankful for all the stories and pictures that have been shared with us from both family and friends. Enid lived a full and happy life, modeling the love of Christ until the very end. I have no doubt that the passion Enid and Don had for serving God and the church will continue to live on through the ministries of their children and grandchildren, as most of us are active members in our church community, and also in those they encountered and ministered to.
It is because of this strong model of faith that I hope to do the same in my own ministry. We are all constantly being formed by every interaction, just as we are forming others by our own actions, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is important to consider how you will model a life of faith for those around you, so that good news of Jesus Christ can be seen and imitated.
Missy Greene, Christian Formation Associate, St. Stephen’s, Fairview, PA