~ Bryon Hansen
The WAY at Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church is a process of adult faith formation formally known as the catechumenate. Not an everyday word to be sure, the catechumenate is the name of the process in the ancient church for welcoming people to Baptism and life in Christ.
This ancient process has been revived in the modern church. Ever since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s, when the Roman Catholic Church recovered this ancient process in its Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the catechumenal process has flourished. Soon after Vatican II the process began to be practiced among Lutherans, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, the Reformed church and many others practicing some manifestation of a contemporary version of the Catechumenate.
Chief among the pioneers of recovering the Catechumenate for Lutherans was Pastor Don Maier, who introduced the WAY while pastoring Phinney in 1993. When he served as Bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod he continued to tirelessly promote the process and was instrumental in introducing Welcome to Christ, the catechumenate emphasis within the entire ELCA.
The word Catechumenate comes from a root word meaning a “sounding in the ear.” Listening permeates the process. We are invited to listen prayerfully to the Scriptures (especially the Gospel) and to one another’s stories. We are invited to listen and pay attention to the movements of the liturgy and the movements of baptismal living in everyday life. The promise of such listening is a deeper connection to the Christian community and a deeper investment in following Jesus.
Worship. Scripture. Prayer. Ministry in daily life. These are the essential ingredients of the WAY – a way that is as contemporary as it is ancient to welcome the newcomer and deepen the life, faith and mission of the whole church.