Protestant Educators

Picture of Elizabeth Caldwell

Elizabeth (Lib) Caldwell (b. 1948): Students and colleagues of Lib Caldwell are well acquainted with her theological curiosity, pedagogical aesthetics, and perhaps most fundamentally, her practice of hospitality. Opening her home to students and colleagues over the years, it is no surprise that the titles of Lib’s texts so frequently evoke images of abundant and gracious hospitality and inclusion. An ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Lib Caldwell’s many contributions to church, guild, and theological education are rooted in her passions for children, youth, and young adults; education as homemaking; scriptural interpretation; and the engaging difference at home, church.

Biography

“One of those kids that loved the church”: Early Years (and Back Again)

Lib Caldwell was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the eldest daughter of William and Mabel Caldwell. With two younger brothers (Bill and Andy) and one younger sister (Cathy [Caldwell] Hoop), Lib developed her sense of nurture and responsibility early in life, and her dedication to nurture and family have shaped both her professional and her personal identities. Having grown up in the Presbyterian Church, Lib earned her B.A. in religion from Rhodes College (then called Southwestern at Memphis). Rhodes was an exhilarating place, she recalls: “I was one of those kids that loved the church, felt at home there. I loved studying. I mean, the religion courses and some of the Bible courses were just incredible. It’s where I first kind of introduced it to form criticism, the fact there are two stories of Genesis, all that. It was a whole other world… I met the Minor Prophets for the first time and just fell in love. I think if somebody had encouraged me, maybe I would have been a biblical scholar. Who knows?” Lib would continue to be enamored by biblical studies, a passion that has surfaced again and again in her teaching and writing.

“I loved my job”: Congregational Education and Denominational Engagement

Upon her graduation from Rhodes, Lib began her career in religious education, first serving as Director of Christian Education at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in Memphis Tennessee. After three years in that position, she moved to northwest Alabama, where she served as an educational consultant for three congregations (First Presbyterian and Westminster Presbyterian in Florence, AL, and First Presbyterian in Sheffield, AL) for eleven years: “I loved my job. I just loved it. There were no two days ever the same. …So much challenge and it was so fascinating.” While ministering in this “three-point charge,” Lib spent one day each week in each congregation and rotated among the churches on Sundays. “It was just constant,” she remembers with a smile.

Along the way, Lib completed course work at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE) and earned a Masters in Education, with a focus in Human Development Counseling, from Vanderbilt University. Her capacity to sustain academic work while serving in educational ministry full time evidences her remarkable threefold commitment to church service, teaching, and scholarship. Each weekend, Lib recalls, she would make the 120 mile trek to Nashville for intensive coursework: “My sister was a freshman and I would just crash in her dorm on the floor, then drive back home on Saturday. I did that program because I realized if I was going to do something different, then I would need that advanced degree.”

While serving as a Christian educator, Lib also became an active member of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE), serving as the organization’s president from 1982 to 1984. Throughout her career, she has maintained an active leadership role within the organization, delivering keynote and workshop presentations. In 2004, APCE honored Lib Caldwell by naming her “Educator of the Year.” About Lib’s contributions to the field, the award committee noted: “Lib lives her life in 'educated faithful companionship' with all she meets” (2004). During her time as a congregational educator, Lib was writing curricula, and increasingly tapped for denominational committees. “I kind of thought I was headed towards judicatory, maybe, or general assembly, or curriculum editing or something,” she says.

“Kind of blew my mind”: Appointment to McCormick Theological Seminary

Much to her surprise, while happily serving the Alabama congregations and writing curricula, Lib was nominated and invited to interview for a faculty position in Christian education at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL in 1984. Having established herself as an accomplished congregational educator, writer, and contributor to denominational life, being recruited for such a position was a rather remarkable confirmation of Lib’s ecclesial and intellectual gifts, given that she did not hold a doctoral degree at the time. She had just finished her masters program at Vanderbilt, she told Tom Parker: “He said, ‘That’s not a problem.’ I said, ‘Oh okay, fine.’” The faculty and administration at McCormick were deeply invested in recruiting faculty with practical church experience as well as rigorous intellectual engagement. Still, Lib was surprised by the invitation and by how much she enjoyed the interview visit. She says, “I came up for three days and I thought, well, that was interesting. I had no idea. I’d gotten home and I think it was the next day they called and offered me the job, which kind of blew my mind…”

Lib was one of several young scholars McCormick hired as a cohort in the mid-1980s, most of whom had not yet completed their doctoral degrees. The school made an investment in the development of these young scholars, four of whom still serve on the faculty at McCormick. And so, while teaching full-time, Lib entered the PhD program at Northwestern University, writing a thesis on Hulda Niebuhr under the direction of Rosemary Keller. (Also serving on her committee were Jack Seymour, Dorothy Jean Furnish, and Jim Ashbrook.) Hulda Niebuhr was an especially relevant subject for biographical study, as the sister of Reinhold and H. Richard was better known to the McCormick community as beloved professor of religious education from 1946 to 1959. The thesis, published in 1992 by Pilgrim Press under the title A Mysterious Mantle: The Biography of Hulda Niebuhr, sought to recover and celebrate the story of this feminist educator, described in her eulogy as a teacher “discerned the weakness and limitations of her students but whose friendship and appreciation of their possibilities opened up to them the way of growth and Christian usefulness” (1992, 2). Hulda Niebuhr was an appropriate subject in another sense, as well: she was known for frequently hosting students and faculty from McCormick in the home she shared with her mother. This spirit of love, hospitality, and encouragement also characterizes Lib’s collegial and pedagogical style. Teaching and learning, for Lib Caldwell, has never been something confined to classroom spaces or explicit curricula. It happens around her dining room table, on her back porch, and in her sunroom, where Lib and her dogs Blinkers and Cookie have welcomed students, colleagues, friends, and strangers for many years.

“I love Lib Caldwell classrooms!”: Teaching and Learning

As a practitioner in the field, Lib’s work and style of teaching quickly resonated with McCormick students, as they do today. Teaching specialized courses in education with children, youth, and young adults, alongside more foundational courses in religious education and pedagogy, her classrooms were quickly recognized by students and colleagues as places of creativity, hospitality, and challenge.

Developing new courses throughout her thirty-year career at the school, Lib never wanted for new challenges and untraversed pedagogical territory. In her last ten years at McCormick, she turned her attention to the role of the arts in religious education. For example, her colleagues at McCormick and in professional organizations are well-acquainted with Lib’s excitement over student projects, having been beckoned by an excited, “You’ve got to see this! Isn’t it beautiful?” On her course, “God, Faith, and Art,” Lib says: “I just adore (that one), …because, really, it’s about making present a concept and then inviting people to create in response to a text or theological theme. I do so little ‘teaching,’ …it’s simply inviting them. (Their work) takes my breath away. Every time I teach it, I think, ‘Oh, I can’t ever teach that again because it’ll never be the same.’” And yet, each time she teaches it, she finds new sources of wisdom, insight, and creativity.  

Although Lib Caldwell’s teaching and research could stand on their own, she is quick to note how many of her generative ideas are born in her relationships. In her ongoing work and collaboration with her sister and her collaborative teaching and research projects with colleagues at McCormick and beyond, many of Lib’s research projects and writings have taken root. Both Come Unto Me and Making a Home for Faith begin with stories from her sister Cathy’s sons, featuring the kind of poignant anecdotes that can only be told by an affectionate and observant aunt. Together with Cathy, also a religious educator and ordained minister, Lib has collaborated in writing the Children’s Mission Yearbook.

Further evidence of the power of collaborative work can be found in Lib’s most recent research project on reading the Bible with children and youth emerged through collaboration. This research had its genesis in the course she co-taught with Hebrew Bible scholar Ted Hiebert. She cherishes opportunities for team teaching, finding that it stimulates her creativity and challenges her perspective: “Interdisciplinary teaching is a real interest of mine. The course that Ted and I taught, ‘Reading the Bible with Children and Youth,’ has just been remarkable. …(I)t’s just been remarkable to watch a biblical scholar at work, just sit with text and then for me to sit there and say, ‘Well, what does this really mean for how we had children understand this or youth?’ That whole thing with learning and teaching with a colleague in a different field.” Many colleagues who have taught with her over the years note that team teaching with Lib is most assuredly an integrative effort and one that has the happy outcome of strengthening their own teaching.

Colleagues and students alike recall with affection the experience of being in a “Lib Caldwell classroom.” Educator Rodger Nishioka recalls: “‘Experience’ is a catch word that many are using and abusing in these days.  …(W)hat makes me smile is that long before liturgical theologians thought about the value of experience, Lib Caldwell was already doing it.  To be a student in Lib's class was to experience God through the richness of sight and sound and scent and taste and touch.  More than just entering a classroom and sitting at a desk to listen to a lecture, Lib was famous for carting all kinds of artifacts from her office and home to transform the bland classroom space into a setting for discovery and learning.” Lib has a practice of arriving early to each classroom with a wheeled crate in tow, in order to prepare the space, setting a tone for the class. Richly colored fabrics, candles, music, and food adorn the communal table around which learning takes place in a Caldwell classroom. As colleague, teaching partner, and seminary president Frank Yamada captioned a photo of the colorful, creative chaos that regularly erupts in her classes, “I love Lib Caldwell classrooms!”

Ongoing Contributions

Lib Caldwell retired from the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary in June 2014. Upon her retirement, she was named Professor Emerita of Pastoral Theology. Of course, Lib gives no indication that her motivation toward teaching and researching are slowing. In addition to her continuing research on reading the Bible with children, she will continue teaching on an adjunct basis at both McCormick and Vanderbilt Divinity School, as well as in local congregations. Lib also has turned her attention toward supporting emerging scholarship in the field of religious education. She continues her work as book review editor for Religious Education, a role in which she is able to nurture the critical and creative voices of young scholars. She also will serve as a co-editor for the Horizons in Religious Education book series, published by the Religious Education Association in collaboration with Wipf and Stock Publishers.

In 2013, Lib Caldwell married Harold Jackson, her long-time friend and colleague in educational ministry, in Nashville, TN, where they are now making their home.

n.b.: All unattributed quotations are taken from interviews and personal communications.

Works Cited:

Caldwell, E. F. (1992). A mysterious mantle: The biography of Hulda Niebuhr. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

(2004). Elizabeth (Lib) Caldwell. The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. Retrieved from http://apcenet.org/2004-elizabeth.html


Contributions to Christian Education

Lib Caldwell’s contributions to the field of Christian religious education are many, and are evident in ecclesial, academic, and public contexts. The themes addressed below do not fully represent the breadth and creativity of her contributions to the field, but do            name some perennial themes in her work that have emerged and reemerged over the course of her career.

Children, Youth, and Young Adults

The faith formation of children, youth, and young adults has long held Lib Caldwell’s attention. Indeed, this subject has been at the heart of four of her major books and much of her publishing for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) audiences, as well. Working at the intersection of congregational education, faith development, and sacramental formation, much of Caldwell’s scholarship has followed a trajectory that has as its core concern the nurture and formation of children and adolescents in the midst of both developmental and cultural change. Caldwell writes for parents, pastors, educators, and other adults who care about the nurture of our children, affirming their vocation as partners in faith for young Christians and equipping them with practices and frameworks for contributing to the construction of a vibrant and supple faith that grows and deepens as the child grows older. At the heart of this work, she argues, is a conviction that “the church in its educational programs could not adequately educate children to grow in the life of the Christian faith. It is a partnership between the parents and their family and the church” (2002, 9).

At the heart of Caldwell’s concerns is a deep respect and desire to know the hearts and minds of young people.  Along the way, she draws on the resources offered by developmental theory to understand children’s emotional and psychological development. In all of her books and articles, however, the voices of children, youth, and young adults are given pride of place, their questions shaping the way Caldwell’s arguments unfold. Understanding children to be sources of theological insight, she urges all of us to listen to the voices of children and adolescents so that we might lead “each other forth to new understandings of what it means to live faithfully in response to God’s call” (1996, 8). Her interest in children’s questions is not patronizing or objectifying, but is a means to deepen faith formation for all of us. Quoting Anna Freud’s advice to Robert Coles, she urges readers to “let the children help you with their ideas on the subject” (1996, 7). Indeed, when she was invited to contribute an essay to a volume on the transition from seminary to a first pastoral call, Caldwell’s first instinct was to interview recent McCormick graduates about their experiences of this transition and the ways in which theological education prepared them for that work (2008, 76).

Home-making as Religious Education

One error that Caldwell has sought to address in her work is the assumption that religious education takes place primarily in the church building, and is the purview of pastors and religious educators. There are many mitigating factors that contribute to this fragmentation, Caldwell observes, including the fact that many parents struggle with competing demands, self-doubt, and limited theological engagement of their own. For this reason, she argues, they tend to turn the religious formation of their children over to the professionals – the religious educators and pastors in their congregations. In so doing, however, parents miss not only an opportunity to participate in the faith formation of their children, but also the invitation to deepen their own spiritual lives. In books like Making a Home for Faith, Leaving Home with Faith, and God’s Big Table, Caldwell addresses parents directly, writing to them as the primary religious educators in their children’s lives. She invites them to make a simple yet profound commitment: “I am a religious educator with my child. In making that affirmation, an adult is saying yes to a role, one that is in partnership with the church and church school teachers, the pastor and other Christian educators” (2007, 49). Of course, Caldwell does not abandon parents to do this work on their own, but provides resources for parents and congregational programs that might nurture the work of parents in her texts. For example, in Come Unto Me: Rethinking the Sacraments for Children, she proposes detailed descriptions of resources and educational events designed to prepare parents for the baptism of their children (1996, 23-27).

The primary educational task, then, is to cultivate the “home as a center of living and learning about the faith” (1996, 9). Here, Caldwell re-imagines the concept of homemaking, deeply influenced by feminist theologian Letty Russell’s concept of a “household of freedom” which is identifiable as a by its characteristics of mutual caring and trust (1997, 78). Indeed, making a home is a calling to Christians not only in the places in which their nuclear families reside, but also in their congregations and communities: “Homemaking is a process of communal theological reflection. ...It is equally important for congregations and education committees to explore what it means to be involved in homemaking (the activity of providing an environment for theological reflection)” (1997, 81, 84).

One of the perpetual images that testifies to the work of homemaking in both Lib Caldwell’s home and her writing is the quilt. She painstakingly assembles elaborate and sometimes cacophonous quilts of batiks, calicos, and other vibrant fabrics, which she offers as gifts to young adults leaving home for the first time, to family and friends who have hosted her in their homes, to friends and colleagues departing. Quilts also adorn the beds, furniture, and walls of her home, enveloping all who enter with a rich welcome. Visitors to her home are invited to see the craft in process as she carefully stiches the pieces together, each color and square imbued with meaning. Stitching together the life of faith is like this craft of quilting, Caldwell observes: “When a quilt is completed, the symbols used in the pattern tell a story. Each part of the needlework communicates something about the one who stitched the quilt. So too, households of faith tell stories about their commitments to living the Christian faith. These stories are revealed in the ways they worship, educate, and pass on the faith” (1996, 108).

Children and the Sacraments

Although the home is the primary site of religious education, another site in congregations is worship. In particular, our sacraments (here, she means baptism and eucharist) are unique practices that we experience together which bear formative power for people of faith. Given the sensory and embodied character of the sacraments, Caldwell find it sadly ironic that children are frequently excused from worship generally and the sacraments in particular. In contrast with this sacramental alienation, Caldwell imagines a “worship space (that) is truly holy space where all the senses are involved, so that worship becomes an experience of the whole self in community, an activity in which persons of all ages are welcome” (1996, 9). What a lost opportunity for faith formation for both children and adults, whenever children are not recognized as full participants in worship, generally, and the sacraments, more specifically (1996, 5).

Rodger Nishioka recalls that Lib had a very embodied way of teaching and learning about the sacraments in the classroom: “When studying about the value of teaching about the sacraments, we would pass around plates of different breads and grains nibbling on grapes and sipping juice.  When pondering teaching about baptism, we would listen to the small fountain in the corner of the room and move our hands through the water reaching deep for shells and stones.” Alongside these embodied practices of encountering the sacraments, Caldwell places intentional and formal practices of instruction. Come Unto Me offers educators and parents liturgical and educational models to prepare parents and children for baptism, interpret the continual unfolding of the meaning and call of baptism in the Christian life, excavate the meanings of the eucharist and participation therein, and follow the invitation that the table issues to bear God’s message in the world.

Faith Formation in a Religiously and Culturally Diverse World

            Lib Caldwell speaks honestly and appreciatively of the way in which teaching at McCormick, a thoroughly cross-cultural learning community, and living in the diverse city of Chicago have shaped her teaching and research agenda: “In addition to reading, research, and writing, I am a different teacher and learner today because of my experiences in a theological school that is diverse in age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, class, and learning styles” (2008, 76). One way in which her context is evident in her writing is in the increasing attention she gives to the demands presented by cultural diversity and religious pluralism to religious education. She notes that before she began teaching at McCormick in 1994, she made a list of all of the capacities and skills she thought were required of religious leaders. By 2008, however, she had new elements to add. Near the top of the list was a capacity to engage religious and cultural diversity (2008, 76).

            So pressing on her consciousness were questions of diversity and difference that they compelled her to revise Making a Home for Faith, adding a chapter on the role of religious education in forming children to live responsibly in a diverse world. Diversity emerges in a variety of permutations: in family structures and makeup; in religious commitments and cross-pollination; in living with disabilities; in diverse expressions of sexual orientation; in cultural particularities and intersections. Drawing from a liturgical practice of presenting a child who would grow up in an interfaith household, Caldwell affirms, “Diversity is a reality in both the culture and the church and is an example of the goodness of God’s creation, something to be celebrated” (2007, 109). The new chapter in Making a Home for Faith introduced a host of new questions emerging for families at the beginning of the 21st century, and proposed a way forward. That way forward would find full expression in God’s Big Table: Nurturing Children in a Diverse World. The book begins with a constructive biblical and theological argument for honoring and engaging diversity, naming this commitment as a necessary component in our search to express faithfulness to God (2011, 43). The table is the metaphorical site of this work, in that we accept an invitation to the table, meet there friends and strangers, bring something to share, taste something new, enjoy the conversation, and leave with new visions for faithfulness in the world (2011, 4). Caldwell concludes the book with an exhaustive set of suggested practices for engaging diversity in families, in the church, and in the broader culture.

            God’s Big Table perhaps best represents the fruits of Lib Caldwell’s intellectual and theological work over the course of her career. It names children as the central population of interest (but, perhaps subversively, it also speaks to all the adults who care about these children, as do so many of her books); it is oriented around the table, a core metaphor that Caldwell understands to be an unequivocal symbol of deep hospitality; it connects these themes of hospitality and engagement to the two sacraments in the reformed tradition; and it reflects the mature reflections of a scholar-teacher who has spent her career teaching and learning in a community and city characterized by cross-cultural and religious diversity.

Engaging the Scriptures

Indeed, God’s Big Table also represents one more aspect of Lib Caldwell’s theological and scholarly identity: it is rooted in a biblical theology of difference, supported by careful biblical study of a wide variety of texts. This engagement of biblical texts would inform Caldwell’s ongoing research and writing even as she approached retirement. As noted above, Caldwell fell in love with biblical studies while an undergraduate at Rhodes College. Almost forty years later, she was invited to serve as the readability editor for the Common English Bible project, a new biblical translation comprising the translation and editing work of 120 scholars (2010). As readability editor, Caldwell’s responsibility was to work with twenty-seven reading groups to determine the accessibility of the translations to a broad range of people and groups, a role that suited her particularly well as she brought together he passion and skills for biblical interpretation with her commitment to congregational learning. Upon completion of this project, Caldwell embarked on another challenging endeavor: writing more than two hundred “Life Preserver” notes for the Deep Blue Kids Bible, the children’s edition of the Common English Bible project. These notes address with honesty and sensitivity the texts that might be challenging or confusing for children, such as the presence of two creation stories in Genesis 1-2 or the rape of Dinah in Genesis 34.

Working on these major biblical translation and interpretation projects coincided with Caldwell’s collaboration with Ted Hiebert on the course, “Reading the Bible with Children and Youth.” This convergence of events birthed a new idea for a book, a text for “adults who want to explore ways to help children read, engage, and wrestle with the Bible honestly, directly, and faithfully.” With the idea for this text, Caldwell had come full circle: “This new book is totally integrated with the work on the Bible project and (her class with Ted Hiebert on reading the Bible with children and youth). They all just kind of interweave with each other, so in some ways, it’s fitting that I’m coming back to my first love.” This book on reading the Bible with children will be published by Abingdon Press in 2015.

Theological Education

Caldwell’s contributions to the field of religious education, particularly as they seek to account for children’s faith formation; living with difference; and pedagogies of learning reading, and teaching the Bible; are numerous and well-known. Another generative theme in Caldwell’s work, however, has been the continual re-imagination of theological education. In her thirty years at McCormick, Caldwell has developed innovative cross-disciplinary courses, directed a curriculum review, and served as an associate dean. In these roles, she has developed a wide view of the mission of theological education.

When Lib was invited to the McCormick interview in 1984, the opportunity inspired her to reflect on all of the questions about religious education that she had received over the years from pastors with whom she had consulted. She developed a list of commitments and dispositions that she thought all religious leaders should develop during their theological education. Theological education, she argues, should provide space for asking good questions, for time to engage with a others in a community of teaching and learning, and support for integrating heart, head and hands” (2008, 74). Although this integration often proves difficult for students, Caldwell believes that the real work of ministry (and thus theological education) is supported by a willingness to dwell with questions. “Questions that were once easily answered,” she observes, “now require reflective pauses” (2008, 67). This insistence on the practice of dwelling with questions is the final thread that weaves together all of Caldwell’s work. Listening deeply to the questions of young children, confirmands, youth, and young adults, one reviewer notes that Caldwell consistently “reminds seminary students that sometimes simplicity is powerfully profound” (Keely 2006, 422).

n.b.: All unattributed quotations are taken from interviews and personal communications.

 

Works Cited:

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). God’s big table: Nurturing children in a diverse world. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2008). Have you asked a good question today? In Cole, A. (Ed.), From midterms to ministry: practical theologians on pastoral beginnings (pp. ). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Caldwell, E. F. (2007). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children (Rev. ed.). Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2002). Leaving home with faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of our youth. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2000). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children. 1st ed. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press. (See also revised edition, above.)

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). Religious instruction: Homemaking. In Seymour, J. (Ed.), Mapping Christian education: Approaches to congregational learning. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (1996). Come unto me: Rethinking the sacraments for children. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.

Keely, B. A. (2006). Five resources for nurturing the spiritual lives of children, youth, and adults. [Review of the book Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children, by E. F. Caldwell]. Religious Education, 101(3): 421-425.


Bibliography

Books:

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). God’s big table: Nurturing children in a diverse world. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2006). The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.  Louisville, KY: Witherspoon Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2007). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children (Rev. ed.). Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2002). Leaving home with faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of our youth. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2000). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children. 1st ed. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press. (See also revised edition, above.)

Caldwell, E. F. (1996). Come unto me: Rethinking the sacraments for children. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (1992). A mysterious mantle: The biography of Hulda Niebuhr. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Bible and Commentary Projects:

Caldwell, E. F., Bostrom, K. L., & Reiss, J. (Eds.). (2013). Daily feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word (Year A). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (2012). “Life Preserver Notes,” in The Deep Blue Kids Bible: Common English Bible. Nashville, TN: Common English Bible Committee.

Caldwell, E. F., Bostrom, K. L., & Reiss, J. (Eds.). (2012). Daily feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word (Year C). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Caldwell, E. F., Bostrom, K. L., & Reiss, J. (Eds.). (2011). Daily feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word (Year B). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Caldwell, E. F., deSilva, D. A., Green, J. B., & Peterson, D. L. (Eds.). (2010). The common English Bible. Nashville, TN: Common English Bible Committee.

Chapters in Books:

Caldwell, E. F. (2010). At home with faith and family. In Keeley, R. (Ed.), Shaped by God: Twelve essentials for nurturing faith in children, youth, and adults (pp. ). Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources.

Caldwell, E. F. (2008). Have you asked a good question today? In Cole, A. (Ed.), From midterms to ministry: practical theologians on pastoral beginnings (pp. ). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Caldwell, E. F. (2005). At home with faith and family: A protestant Christian perspective. In Yust, K. M., Johnson, A. N., Sasso, S. E., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (Eds.), Nurturing child and adolescent spirituality: perspectives from the world's religious traditions. London: Rowman and Littlefield.

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). Religious instruction: Homemaking. In Seymour, J. (Ed.), Mapping Christian education: Approaches to congregational learning. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). Hulda Niebuhr: Teacher as artist.  In Keely, B. A. (Ed.), Foremothers of faith: Women changing religious education. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). Nelle Morton: A radical journey.  In Keely, B. A. (Ed.), Foremothers of faith: Women changing religious education. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Articles:

Caldwell, E. F. (2013). Reading the Bible with children and youth. Currents in Theology and Mission, 40(4): 249-254.

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). Pastoral perspectives on lectionary texts. Lectionary Homilectics/Good Preacher.

Caldwell, E. F. (2001). Between text and sermon – Zechariah 8:1-8. Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, 55(2): 185-187.

Caldwell, E. F. (1998). Reformed spirituality as coming home. McCormick Perspectives, Winter, 1998.

Caldwell, E. F. & Young, S. (1998). Youth, families, and the church: Theological education beyond the walls. Church and Society, 88(3): 86-95.

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). Parents’ baptismal vows: Water, words and wonder. Reformed Liturgy and Music, 31(4).

Caldwell, E. F. (1997). What if we really worshipped with children? Church and Society, 88(1): 85-93.

Church Publications:

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). ordinary, quotidian, time. APCE ADVOCATE 36(1).

Caldwell, E. F. (Consultant and Contributor). (2010). Homegrown handbook for Christian parenting. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Resources.

Caldwell, E. F. & Hoop, C. (2009). Children’s mission yearbook for prayer and study. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

Caldwell, E. F. & Hoop, C. (2008). Children’s mission yearbook for prayer and study. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

Caldwell, E. F. (2006). Gardening for my soul. The Lutheran Woman.

Caldwell, E. F. (2005). Leader’s Guide: For everything, a season: A study of the liturgical year. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Horizons Bible Study. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

Caldwell, E. F. & Hoop, C. (2000). Celebrating the Year of the Child: Monthly reflections and activities for individuals, groups and families. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

Caldwell, E. F. & Hilgert, E. (1993). Prayers of the Bible for a faithful journey. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Horizons Bible Study. Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

Online Publications:

Caldwell, E. F. (2006, May). Curriculum for such a time as this (Using the news to teach religion). Religion and News Ethics Newsweekly. www.pbs.org.

Caldwell, E. F. (2006). Spiritual practices for vacation. The Thoughtful Christian. Retrieved from http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.org.

Caldwell, E. F. (2006). Making adult group study relevant. The Thoughtful Christian. Retrieved from http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.org.

Caldwell, E. F. (2006). Educating for faithful living. The Thoughtful Christian. Retrieved from http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.org.

Caldwell, E. F. (2004). Study guide on Muslim and Christian dialogue. The Christian Century. www.christiancentury.org.

Caldwell, E. F. (n.d.). Hulda Niebuhr. Christian educators of the 20th century. Retrieved from http://www.talbot.edu/ce20.

Caldwell, E. F. (n.d.). Nelle Morton. Christian educators of the 20th century. Retrieved from http://www.talbot.edu/ce20.

Reviews of the Elizabeth Caldwell’s Publications:

Csinos, D. M. (2012). Review of the book God’s Big Table, Nurturing Children in a Diverse World, by E. F. Caldwell. Religious Education, 107(1): 97-100.

Keely, B. A. (2006). Five resources for nurturing the spiritual lives of children, youth, and adults. [Review of the book Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children, by E. F. Caldwell]. Religious Education, 101(3): 421-425.

Little, S. (1994). Review of A Mysterious Mantle: The Biography of Hulda Niebuhr, by E. F. Caldwell. American Presbyterians, 72(1): 68-70.

Pauw, A. P. (2001). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children, by E. F. Caldwell. Journal of Family Ministry 15(2): 63-64.


Excerpts from Publications

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). God’s big table: Nurturing children in a diverse world. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

“Coming to the table, tasting food that is different, engaging in table conversation with people from different places in the world and places in the lifespan is an opportunity to live into the mystery of God’s big plan for the world. In the abundance of food and people, we learn from each other about those things that make us alike and those things that make us different. We bring our memories to the table, sharing stories of our past. We also bring our imaginations for the way the table can be set” (52).

Caldwell, E. F. (2008). Have you asked a good question today? In Cole, A. (Ed.), From midterms to ministry: practical theologians on pastoral beginnings (pp. ). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

“Remarkable things happen over the course of three or four years of theological education. Students arrive with some questions and they leave with different ones. As I watch them walk forward to receive their diploma, I know some of the questions with which they have struggled… In class discussions, in study breaks at night, in conversations over coffee and meals at the table, in worship, in articulations of challenges, and in learning through annual reviews with their faculty advisor, their formation for ministry is bounded by questions. If they don’t leave different from the person they were when they entered, then we have failed them” (75).

Caldwell, E. F. (2007). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children (Rev. ed.). Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

“Just as children have basic faith needs, things they can expect of parents, family, and other adults in their lives, parents have faith needs as well. These things contribute to their ability to be at home with their faith and to their formation as primary faith educators with their child… Parents want to know they are doing something right. Pastors and educators want parents to understand that educating for faith is a partnership between the church and the home” (40).

“Trusting in your life experiences and in the ‘clearing for God’ you have made in your life will see you through the myriad observations and curiosities that children remind you of and that you in your adulthood may have forgotten, solved, or moved beyond” (52).

Caldwell, E. F. (1996). Come unto me: Rethinking the sacraments for children. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.

“Communion is rarely joyful. Baptisms seldom afford the opportunity for the congregation to remember and renew their baptismal vows. What if the water and the meal were joined so that children’s welcome into the household of God affirmed their full participation? Having been washed and fed, they would be ready to grow in a life of faith supported by the witness and example of each member of God’s household. Their presence at the table could not be denied” (9).


Recommended Readings

Caldwell, E. F. (2007). Making a home for faith: Nurturing the spiritual life of your children (Rev. ed.). Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

This, Caldwell’s second book on faith formation with children, develops fully the metaphor of homemaking as religious education and the nurture and support of parents as our primary religious educators. Drawing on the biblical concept of the shema (Deut. 6:4-9), developmental theory, and reformed theology, Caldwell paints an image of boundless religious education that is grounded in households.

Caldwell, E. F. (1996). Come unto me: Rethinking the sacraments for children. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press.

Caldwell’s original work on worship, sacraments, and faith formation for children exemplifies her theological approach to religious education, weaving together sacramental theology and educational theory. The book takes an approach to sacramental education that is resonant of John Westerhoff’s theory, but broadened and deepening by engagement with feminist theology. The book includes many concrete practices for education in preparation for and interpreting baptism, eucharist, and service.

Caldwell, E. F. (2011). God’s big table: Nurturing children in a diverse world. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

One of Caldwell’s later works, God’s Big Table begins with a rich and well-researched biblical and theological foundation from which religious education should nurture our capacities (particularly among children) for embracing difference. In other words, Christians are called to respect and engage cultural and religious difference because of their faith, not despite it. From this foundation, Caldwell surveys all the instances of diversity and difference in families, communities, and society, drawing on anecdotal stories and scholarly research. The book concludes with a substantive (more than a third of the book) series of well-conceived practices for Christians who want to cultivate an appreciation for and responsible engagement with difference at home, in church, and in our communities. 


Author Information

Jennifer R. Ayers

Jennifer R. Ayres earned her Ph.D. in the Person, Community, and Religious Life program of Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Religious Education and Director of the Program in Religious Education at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. 

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