Thursday, 21 July 2011

Learning really is for Life

A quick glance back at my diary for the last few days has reminded me how much of my ministry is involved with life long learning and why I think this is so important.

On Wednesday evening last week I took part in a service at Chelmsford Cathedral presenting certificates to students who had completed the diocesan Course in Christian Studies. I have organised this service for the last ten years in my role as lay education and training bod and had been invited back to participate as my successor Elizabeth Jordan was licensed by the Bishop of Chelmsford. +Stephen preached a cracking sermon on The Prodigal Son but that’s for another time. It was great to see another cohort of some 80 students from across the diocese receiving recognition for completing two years of study and I estimate I have been privileged to see over 800 lay people participate on the course in centres around the diocese over the last decade.

Last Thursday I welcomed the children from our local infants school to St Mary’s for an end of year service. The children led the singing and prayers, talked about their work and fully engaged with my short talk on the parable of the lost iPod. I’m not sure the same could be said of some of the parents who seem to treat these times as a performance rather than worship as they compete for the best place to take photos. Still the church was full and it was a great opportunity to celebrate learning in our community.

readers 11 On Saturday I was back to the cathedral for the St Mellitus College graduation service and my final public act as former Director of Lay Ministry Studies at SMC. It was a real joy to see our graduating students receive their awards from Middlesex University (SMC’s validating body) and especially the Chelmsford Readers for whom I had particular oversight. I estimate that I have overseen the training of well over 150 Readers in the diocese during my tenure. Again it has been a real privilege to work with such dedicated lay people serving God in ministry and mission as preachers, teachers, evangelists and pastors across the diocese.

I was taken ill Saturday evening so my first public duty once back on my feet was on Tuesday. Another service in church, this time for our church playschool. Once more the children did most of the work and given how young they were did a great job in singing, sharing their work and surviving the attention of paparazzi parents.

Then this morning I spent an encouraging hour continuing to plan our church holiday club Showstoppers with a couple of our gifted and enthusiastic children’s leaders.

A great few days working with children as young as three and adults some of whom are still studying in their eighties and if that isn’t the church engaging in life long learning I don’t know what is.

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