Faith & Learning
This 2023, is God calling you to something new? Hear from Special Guest Blogger, member of our church family and author on grief and loss, Andrea Corrie, who shares a little of where God is leading her. Thank you Andrea for sharing this with us!
If it isn’t too late to say it … Happy New Year, everyone! I’m looking back on 2022 as a year of adjustment. I retired from paid employment and looked forward to enjoying a less clock-bound existence. To begin with, I made an error common to many newly retired folk and blithely said ‘Yes’ to everything. Within a few months I had seriously over committed my time and felt that I didn’t have the anticipated freedom to do the things that I really wanted to. I began to pare back my commitments and by the summer, the balance was better. But I still had the sense that there was something missing … until an epiphany arrived.
As one of my retirement pleasures, I run a creative writing group which is about to begin its fourth term in Bampton. It is a joy to sit with fellow scribers and to explore different aspects of creative writing. As an exercise in our sessions, the group write to a given ‘prompt’ and it was on one such occasion, as I watched the group diligently writing away, that I had a very strong sense of being nudged, towards something new. I felt that God was saying to me, “OK, you are doing this in a secular setting, surely there is a way to combine the creativity of writing with your Christian faith?”
The idea kept nibbling at the edges of my mind. I didn’t know how to progress it. I can teach what I know, for example writing about short story structure, characterisation, etc, but how could I teach about writing with a faith bias, when I don’t know how to do it myself?
I prayed and then turned to Google. I came across the website of the South West Ministry Training Course (SWMTC), which includes ‘Training for Everyone: Foundations in Christian Ministry’. Whilst I hadn’t thought of taking this route, the one-year course, which ‘aims to deepen Christian discipleship, give a grounded understanding of the Bible, help discern God’s call for your next step and provide a foundation for further training’ seemed to promise much.
Initially my hopes were dashed, as I had missed the deadline for application, but luckily I received a positive response to my enquiry. I was grateful to Vicar Andy for quickly providing the required reference, and I met for a chat with Jude Taylor, who kindly provided a personal reference. Next came an informal Zoom interview with two Tutors, and I was delighted to be offered a place on the course starting in September 2022.
The heart of the FICM course is its study days, which are held in Exeter. Each study day is divided in a mix of informal lectures and group discussions. We are split into small tutor groups, headed by a lay or ordained minister and in between the Study days the study group meets for a Zoom catch up. There is a comprehensive reading list and I have a growing pile of theological literature to explore!
The Tutor Groups have a rota for opening and closing worship, and I really enjoy our time spent putting together slides, prayers and readings to use in our presentations.
As with any new setting, I was nervous when I arrived for the first Study Day, but we were warmly welcomed, and the content of the days is well structured and delivered. I lift-share with a fellow Bampton resident for the Study Days, which adds another dimension to our enjoyment.
To be able to sit in a class setting and have the luxury of listening, learning, and partaking in this exploration of faith is truly wonderful and I am grateful for the opportunity. I don’t yet know where it will lead, but that is part of the excitement!
I would highly recommend the course to anyone wishing to be part of the ‘learning community of people journeying and growing together’ as described by the SWMTC.
Find out more about the courses available with SWMTC https://swmtc.org.uk/
Read more from Andrea via her blog here
Buy Andrea's latest book on Amazon here.
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