Christian Formation-Profile

confirmands 2009 Learning and Growing in the Spirit….

From our youngest and most curious to our oldest and wisest, St. Francis offers a weekday program for preschoolers with its Creche Episcopal Preschool, Sunday morning Christian Education classes for young children and teenagers, Adult Forum discussions, and weekday Centering Prayer and Bible Study groups to expand the spirit and inform and nurture our lives.

We invite our children to join our junior choirs and acolyte staff, believing service and formation starts at Baptism.

vbs-198penny baptismconfirmation peter leeben creche-198andrew as joseph-198

creche feastThe St. Francis Creche Episcopal Preschool opened in 2001, and the school today enrolls almost 70 children from all faiths in classes offered Monday through Friday. The Creche is built on a strong foundation for learning and character development and promotes spiritual and Christian growth through regular chapel services and daily prayers and songs. See Creche Preschool.

 franciscans-say Jane Ruppe-120

JaneRuppeCrecheJane – Reston

quote-left-green I joined St. Francis with my family when we moved to Great Falls in 1990. When St. Francis began discussions about beginning a preschool, I volunteered to sit on the committee and share my expertise since I was working at a neighboring preschool at the time. I joined the teaching staff soon after the Creche opened its doors in 2001 and became its Director in November of 2003.

My service at St. Francis Church and the Creche has far exceeded my expectations. I receive so much joy from our Creche students and have built many lasting relationships with Creche teachers and parish clergy over the years. We work together on outreach and social projects, such as donating toys and books at “Breakfast with Santa,” and collecting dollars and change for the Basic School in Sudan and the Heifer International program. Creche families support the Country Fair and our annual Gala by donating auction items and attending both events. The clergy leads Children’s Chapel every Wednesday, contributing to the Creche’s Episcopal identity. quote-right-green


Riihimaki family-120

Riihimaki familyCate and Steve – Vienna

quote-left-green When we joined St. Francis Church almost seven years ago, members welcomed us with open arms. Since then, our children have thoroughly enjoyed the loving care of the nursery staff, participating in the Grace Notes preschool choir, performing in the annual Christmas pageant, and attending other church events.

Our daughter, Lauren, now attends the Creche Preschool, which offers an incredibly rich and positive learning environment. The teachers and rector work so well with the children, offering activities to help them learn about Christ and the church. Lauren often runs to give her teacher a big hug when we see her at the Sunday morning service. We are heartened by and thankful for the sense of belonging that comes with being a member of the Creche and the larger St. Francis community. quote-right-green


sunday schoolChristian education classes meet from 9:15 to 9:50 every week. We have a variety of programs based on the grade and age of our youth.

For more information see Christian Education.

franciscans-say Caroline-Grossman-120

Caroline GrossmanCaroline – Great Falls

quote-left-green I have been attending St. Francis for 13 years, and through the church I’ve developed many long-term friendships. I have been so inspired that recently I was confirmed by the Episcopal Church. I gladly serve as a Sunday School teacher, as I have for the past 10 years, teaching through Godly Play and watching our young children grow into fine young people.

I joined the Creche staff this year to deepen my interest in teaching children, which is something I truly enjoy. I have also been involved with many other aspects of our parish life: Altar Guild, Country Fair, Gala, Book Club, and Tables for Ten. It has been a blessing to raise my sons in this loving church, which is a unique spiritual community offering many opportunities to serve. quote-right-green


Cindy William-120

CindyWilliam2014-178Cindy – Great Falls

quote-left-green I joined St. Francis when I married my husband here in 1995, and our children have grown up in this church. Our St. Francis family has been a wonderful blessing to us. For many years, I've experienced the joy of teaching little ones in Sunday School and watching all my students grow up as well.  Children are warmly welcomed and embraced in this church. They feel safe and loved here. quote-right-green

st francis youth-525The youth program at St. Francis is in transition as we evaluate our current curriculum and look to reinvigorate social and service opportunities. Teenagers at St. Francis may participate in Rite 13—a program for current 7th and 8th graders that recognizes increasing responsibility and maturity—and then, the Journey to Adulthood (J2A) program for 9th and 10th graders, which culminates in a summer pilgrimage trip.

Teenagers are invited to participate in confirmation classes in the second year of the J2A program.

Older teens are encouraged to take on leadership and service positions, such as helping to work with younger children in Christian education and youth service and social activities.

franciscans-say Christie

ChristieChristie – Great Falls

quote-left-green I attended St. Francis for almost half of my life before I went to college.  For me, St. Francis was a community where I always felt welcome and made many enduring friendships. One of the most important avenues for me to meet people at St. Francis was the music program- I was in several of our musicals and always performed at the Shrine Mont talent shows. St. Francis helped me to come out of my shell as a musician; but more importantly, as a young woman. quote-right-green


emily-178Emily – Great Falls

quote-left-green St. Francis gave me a real sense of belonging while I was growing up. At church everyone was so nice, and it made me a much happier kid! St. Francis is where I started singing and where I met my first voice teacher. Singing is now the most important part of my life. quote-right-green


chandler-120Chandler – Great Falls

quote-left-green I am a lifelong Franciscan and have many great memories of our church. Rising through the different stages of J2A, I’ve had lots of opportunities to serve the community in a uniquely personal and social way that I never thought would be possible. With St. Francis I've found a fantastic, close-knit group of peers that I will cherish forever. quote-right-green


elliot-120Elliot – McLean

quote-left-green Although my family has only been at St Francis for four years, we were welcomed into the St. Francis family as soon as we arrived. Between acolyte shifts and J2A programs, it was so easy to become involved in such an amazing environment where everyone is able to love and support each other in their journey with God. For example, during my J2A pilgrimage to Quebec, I was able to get to know other kids of the same age who were also striving to become closer to God. We were able to help each other in our growth and understanding of what it means to be Episcopalian. I also found that coming to St. Francis on Sunday mornings makes my weekend better because I am able to spend it with not just my immediate family, but also with my entire St. Francis family.

I realize that even with all of the stress in our lives, especially with school, sports, and all the extracurriculars that come with being a teenager, St. Francis helps me take a breath, find peace in the moment, and remember that it will always get better, no matter how bad it might be, because there is hope. What has St. Francis meant to me as a high schooler? It’s given me a chance to ask questions and grow in my relationship with God. quote-right-green


WesleyWesley – Great Falls

quote-left-green My experience on the Dungannon Mission trip with the other Region V churches is one that I will remember for a long time. Our team built two new decks and repaired holes in the roof of a local church.  Every day I would go to my worksite with my new friends, tools in my hands, and a smile on my face—and after working, we retired to the Dungannon community service center where we played frisbee, played cards and bonded. On our day off, we hiked to a swimming hole with a waterfall. Every night we would have our Call to Worship where we reflected on the great experiences of the day, sang songs, and grew closer together. quote-right-green

Kevin Maxson-120

Kevin MaxsonKevin – Herndon

quote-left-green My family joined St. Francis while looking for a preschool for our then-infant son. Discovering the St. Francis Crèche was a real pleasure. Our son attended, then I became active—serving on the Crèche Board—and my wife began teaching there after our son graduated four years ago.

Both of us truly believe that our community’s youth is a top priority. To that end, I’ve led two cohorts of Journey to Adulthood, and I’m in the middle of my fourth year with these remarkable 14- to 16-year-old young men and women. We’ve had music nights, homemade spaghetti dinners, photography scavenger hunts, and a pilgrimage trip to Quebec in 2013. Witnessing the revelation of Jesus Christ to and with our youth has been a constant blessing. I can hardly wait for our mission trip to Dungannon and our next pilgrimage this coming summer! quote-right-green

Lori Beer

Lori Beer-178Lori – Vienna

quote-left-green I’ve been an active member of St. Francis for about 40 or 50 years and my wife, Lyn, about 20 years. Lyn and I participated in many programs, but the one I’m most proud of is my past involvement with teenagers in the EYC program.

A while back we used to have work camp trips all over the U.S. One I remember most vividly was with the Oneida Indians in Wisconsin. The things we learned—like how Native Americans lived early in our nation’s history—left an indelible imprint on all of us.

All of our work camp activities were based on service to others—and we need more of these mission trips. Even on our 10th anniversary trip to Hawaii to visit with our former St. Francis Rector, John Millen, we worked to help a native Hawaiian parish. The 17 who went to Hawaii will never forget that trip because they were not allowed to receive any funding from their parents! They had to earn the money for that trip. I can't remember how many car washes we did, but I was proud of all our young men and women.

St. Francis is a great place to teach values—the importance of hard work—and while having fun too. It’s a reward for spending time in service to others. quote-right-green

Graham Adult ForumSt. Francis offers opportunities to enrich our understanding of Scripture, theology, or even ancient prayer practices, among other topics, through ongoing programs that take place Sunday and through the week. These programs include our Adult Forum, Bible Study, Centering Prayer, Bookclub, and Men's Group gatherings. Click Adult Education.




franciscans-say Janis Sposato

Adult Forum

Janis Sposato-178Janis – Great Falls

quote-left-green I joined St. Francis more than ten years ago when my family moved to Great Falls. While we wanted to give our sons the experience of a local church with rich service and fellowship opportunities, we found many other things at St. Francis as well, including several intellectual and cultural opportunities.  

In addition to frequent concerts and periodic musical productions, St. Francis sponsors a weekly Adult Forum – an hour between services devoted to the exploration of topics of interest. Forum topics have run the gamut from “Soren Kierkegaard’s Leap to Faith” to the obsession with,“Zombies in Popular Culture.”

We also have a very active book club that meets twice monthly at our local Starbucks. In our Parish Survey my fellow Franciscans voiced a strong appetite for more programming of an intellectual and cultural nature to serve our boomer members as they move into retirement. I am right there with them: I would love to see Great Falls come alive as a year round Chautauqua-like community with St. Francis at the heart of it. quote-right-green


Adult Forum

Lynda Lynda – Great Falls

quote-left-green In the Adult Forum I've found a very helpful, informative, and stimulating place to share the mental, emotional, and spiritual wonderings that arise as part of my faith journey. It's a comfortable and safe environment to raise questions with my fellow travelers, without fear of judgment or ridicule. It's a convenient and friendly atmosphere in which to share understandings, observations, and concerns about a wide range of topics with respectful friends. All of us are open to inquiry and support the importance of learning as a way to deepen our relationship with each other, and with our Creator and Redeemer. quote-right-green


St. Francis Men’s Group

Roland with mens groupRoland – Reston

quote-left-green I am a retired Navy Officer and have been a member of St. Francis for about 30 years. At one time or another, I’ve held most of the jobs available in the parish.  This year my family celebrated our youngest son’s wedding, and we celebrated my wife’s life in this wonderful church. 

One of the mainstays of my relationship with the church has been, and is, the Men’s Group.  We are a small group of 10-to-15 members who meet most Wednesday mornings at 7:30 AM. We’ve been meeting for many years.  We’re all about sharing our common experiences, worshipping and studying God’s message together.  We read and discuss new and old books on various theological subjects, listen to lectures and podcasts by noted personalities (theologians, apologists, atheists and agnostics), study scripture, and share experiences in our spiritual lives.  Every year we host the popular Pancake Supper on Shrove Tuesday. 

This group has been a foundation of my spiritual growth and education, and has been a strong rock in my life. quote-right-green

Kathy Anderson

Centering Prayer

Kathy Anderson-178Kathy – Reston

quote-left-green St. Francis is my spiritual home where every Sunday I am greeted with love. And throughout the year I am nurtured by my loving and caring friends. My family has been worshipping at St. Francis for almost 25 years, and we’ve become involved with many ministries. As a Stephen Minister, I’ve had the privilege of entering the personal side of people’s lives and offering a listening presence. Listening is a very powerful activity, and it’s a theme that I return to as I move into a new ministry.

My new ministry is co-leading a Centering Prayer group, where once a week we meet with a small group of parishioners to learn and practice the art of “listening for God.” St. Francis is the place where I have learned and been guided in the art of listening. quote-right-green


Bible Study

Val-178Val – Great Falls

quote-left-green Our family moved to Great Falls twelve years ago and joined St. Francis because of our desire to worship and praise God. We found that opportunity and a remarkable church full of fellowship here at St. Francis.  Most of our extended family lives all over the world, and we felt we needed a substitute local family, and we found that here, too!  While growing up, our daughter was mentored musically, in the church choir, and spiritually, in the J2A, Sunday School, and Outreach programs.

Over three years ago, I wanted to make Bible Study available during the week to parishioners who valued being grounded in the Word. We couldn't wait a whole week to hear and read scripture so we formed a mid-week Bible Study group.  We are known simply as, “Thursday Bible Study.”

We are a small group that studies, shares insights, and prays together—and we continue to learn and grow spiritually. If it were not for my sisters and brothers-in-Christ keeping me accountable, I might not be as dedicated in reading my Bible! Deep friendships have formed, and we look forward to seeing one another each week. We decide as a group what to study and some passages are quite difficult, but the Holy Spirit helps us come up with answers (and our priest, if not in the room, is right across the hall!). 

 "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). quote-right-green

Mike Hattwick-120

Mike-Hattwick-PhotoMichael – Great Falls

quote-left-green I am a physician who recognizes the important role spirituality plays in healing physical, psychological, and social illness, and in promoting health, wholeness, and holiness. A healthy church is meant to be a place where healing and holiness meet, and St. Francis is just such a healthy church. It has been my privilege to participate in St. Francis Bible Study and Contemplative Prayer groups where we intentionally explore what spiritual development means and share our spiritual journeys. quote-right-green

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