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Shared Learning Transforms Faith

by glynch — last modified 04 Jun, 2018 04:57 PM

New Aldhelm Certificate course impresses participants in Salisbury

Shared Learning Transforms Faith

Photo (C): Louise Hartgill

“Collaborative study in a home group transformed my faith, but here we are at a different level.” That’s the view of one of the members of the Aldhelm certificate group in the city of Salisbury.

The Aldhelm Certificate is a three-term course designed for grassroots Christians, helping them journey with others and reflect together on some of the fundamental questions that we face as Christian disciples.

Originally designed in 2012 the Revd Dr Stella Wood, the course has was relaunched last autumn. Debbie Orriss, the Diocese’s Discipleship Co-ordinator, said, “I am delighted by the way the first groups to use it have enjoyed and benefited from the revised course. It is a wonderful way to deepen your Christian faith, no matter what your previous educational experience and background has been.”

Canon David Durston, was one of the tutors of one of the first groups to use the revised course and said, “Learning together, sharing ideas, has been an important aspect of the group.”

Comments by group members included: “We bounce ideas off each other.”  “As we have got to know each other we feel less inhibited,” 

“We are a diverse group”, continues David, “thirtyish to seventy-something in age, of different working backgrounds, six different churches. Most come from Salisbury and its surrounding villages, but some are driving in each week from Shaftesbury and Blandford.

“The reading material provided has been another factor in creating the sense of excitement about learning that has been a feature of the group.  In the first term, Faith in Christ, we were on fairly familiar ground,  though there were some interestingly different angles to it.  It is the first time I have had to think about Philip Pullman’s ideas in relation to my understanding of Jesus Christ. At the end someone commented ‘It has re-ignited my interest in developing my knowledge of the Christian faith.’

“We are now in the middle of the second term, Faith in a Scientific World, and this is stretching our understanding of our faith.  Discussing particle physics and the Large Hadron Collider, and climate change and global warming, and the way our faith in God as Creator relates to these, this has pushed the boundaries of our understanding and widened our knowledge.

“Naming the course after Aldhelm was an inspired choice.  He is remembered in Salisbury diocese as the first Bishop of Sherborne.  Before that he was a monk, and for many years Abbot of Malmesbury.    He was a poet and a skilled musician.  William of Malmesbury tells a lovely story about him.   . ‘The saint placed himself in (people’s) way on the bridge joining country and town, pretending to be a minstrel.  He did this more than once, with the result that the people got to like it and came in crowds…’

“Aldhelm gradually inserted the words of Scripture into his ballads and so brought the people back to their senses. Busking for the Lord in the seventh century – not a bad qualification for a saint!

“The Aldhelm course has a similar missional quality about it.  It is about the way the Christian faith engages with issues and concerns that catch people’s interests and concerns today, whether it is Pullman’s novels or new scientific discoveries. It offers ‘an opportunity for collaborative study to seek God in our lives’, as one of the group described it.

“Coming up later this term we have Darwin and ‘The Origin of Species’.  Then after a break in August we come back to the third term, Faith at Work. We shall be reflecting on our faith in relation to contemporary society, to our experience of daily work, and also wider issues of economics, education and psychotherapy. 

“As one member commented, ‘we have done quite a lot of lateral thinking. The course lends itself to that.’ I am looking forward to doing some more lateral  thinking – and hearing other people’s lateral thinking – in the autumn.”

If you are interested in running, or attending an Aldhelm course, you’ll find information on this section of our website or contact the Learning for Discipleship and Ministry Team:

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