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Adult Education Report Annual Meeting 2006

Prepared by Clark Wilson

There were six major threads in adult education this last year:

1. Purpose-Driven Life (PDL)

The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL) series s tarted in February and continues. The format is Friday weekly meetings at the Stevens' home in Darien, using the PDL books, workbooks, and videos. Each individual series of meetings on one general topic is six or seven weeks long. The PDL series has attracted and kept a good-sized, enthusiastic group that includes some people from outside the parish. The participants have bonded into a community, gaining both direction and strength as they explore the material and share experiences as they follow The Way.

2. Orthodox School of the Seventy

Second, we started the Orthodox School of the Seventy in March. The core of the school is independent study of specified books, lectures, videos, audios, and meetings, with participants earning credits that are posted on a common board in the fellowship hall. The goal of the school is supplement other education activities and to give participants and the parish a cumulative sense of accomplishment as credits mount up. We published two Evangelist articles describing the School, and set up a "blog" (a bulletin board of sorts, on the internet). We have had informal discussions in the bookstore area during coffee hour. The largest single group of credits has gone to Purpose-Driven Life attendees, but many parishioners have read books, watched instructional videos, or attended lectures for credit.

3. Inquirers

Third, we have provided materials and instruction to inquirers during the year. Sometimes we worked formally, as in an inquirer's class held during Lent, but more often informally -- in conversations, extended email exchanges, and online chats. One inquirer has been attending church weekly since late summer.

4. Evangelist

We have published articles in the Evangelist (and hence on line). The first articles were specifically about the School; the most recent Evangelist contained the first in a series of articles sparked by an inquirer's question. Entries in the School's blog point to these articles and also link to relevant books and news items.

5. In-Person Activities

We have provided or attended in-person activities. Fr. Andrew led a class on evangelism during the first quarter of 2005. Parishoners attended a worship service at the Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in March. Several attended lectures by Bishop KALLISTOS (Ware). One parishoner attended an interfaith meeting at a mosque, and afterwards followed up with two of the speakers. Several parishoners attended the annual banquet of the Orthodox Christian Missionary Center.

6. Others

It is very important to note that adult education at St. Luke's has benefited greatly, over and over again, from other structures and activities at St. Luke's. I would like specifically to mention these:

  • the Evangelist, which provides a ready-built way to present the School to the parish and to distribute information, and which also encourages parishoners to spread their wings and write articles;
  • the evangelism team's collection of Conciliar Press pamphlets and other materials, which contain excellent, succinct statements of Orthodox teachings on topics that come up in adult education;
  • the bookstore, which provides a reservoir of good materials and a convenient way to order special items (plus we have taken over the bookstore table during coffee hour, and its icons watch over us there!);
  • the prayer group, which has prayed on behalf of inquirers and evangelists;
  • the library, which is an excellent repository of material not only for students and inquirers but especially for me, as I try to keep ahead of students and inquirers; and
  • the web site, which makes Evangelist articles instantly available to a wider audience, ties in with the School's blog, and contains the parish's online chat room.

    I am not mentioning these resources merely out of gratitude, though I am indeed quite grateful. As a new guy on the block I want to call attention to the obvious: my work has been greatly facilitated and multiplied by the fact that these activities and structures were in place, ready for me to use.

    Our next year's goals in most of these areas are to continue, expand, and deepen the existing work described above. For instance, the Purpose-Driven Life series will resume meeting in mid January, we have scheduled a February 1 visit by members of the Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, I will write the next article in the series on the "divine feminine," and so on.

    The area that I think needs refinement and improvement is the School. I would like to get some audio CD materials as several people have suggested. I would like to figure out ways to give students some feedback and encouragement during the lonely time between starting an activity and finishing it. This could be by email, by phone, or during the coffee hour, but I'd like it to be an expected, structured thing and not to depend upon my whim and memory. I'd like to take advantage of some of the experience and knowledge of members of the parish, perhaps by having them give presentations or take on the role of being the patron or guide for a particular course or area. I would like to undertake some School initiatives regarding high school students and young adults -- the young people can be students but also may be actively studying subjects that we older folk may want to revisit with their help. I see the "slack" summer time as a possible opportunity for adult education. Fr. Andrew has several times expressed the wish to build up the weekly chat room; we can work on that this year.