St. Paul's is committed to offering opportunities for spiritual formation and Christian education, in response to the needs and concerns of our parishioners. The following is a sampling of these opportunities.
Several times a month we offer an opportunity to learn more about specific areas of ministry, mission, our Episcopal tradition, the Bible, and aspects of Christian life in the 21st century. These forums take place at 9:00 on Sunday morning (in between our two morning services) and last for approximately 45 minutes. For details of upcoming forums, check the parish calendar and Centre Point.
Our Sunday morning series for February and March 2014 is Via Media
Via Media brings people together through a program that uncovers the truth and beauty of the Episcopal Church and explores what it means to be a part of our church in today’s world -- using the thoughts and discussions of respected theologians and religious scholars.
Via Media is ideal for people who are exploring Christianity or the Episcopal Church for the first time; those returning to the church after time away; and experienced churchgoers seeking to explore their faith more deeply. It is especially useful for adults considering or preparing for baptism, confirmation, or reception into the Episcopal Church from another denomination.
Via Media meets in St. Paul's Library. Topics covered are:
February 9 - An Anglican Way of Being Christian
Using a combination of learning methods – including video, written materials, and group discussion – we explore the basic principles of Christianity through the Anglican approach of Scripture, Tradition and Reason – the “Middle Way” or “Via Media”. All people are encouraged to ask questions, and to learn how to address their own questions of faith.
For more information, or to sign up for this Via Media series, please email the Church Office, or call 603 224 2523. And feel free to simply arrive on the day.
Our Sunday morning forum in January 2014 was Epiphanies... or Who in the World, a series of three discussions and meditations on the theme of "being available for encounters with the Creator."
During September and October 2013, we offered Women on the Way, a meditation series based on Judith Carpenter's stories of women Jesus encountered during his ministry on earth. At each session we listened to a recording of Judith reading her stories and discussed how it affected us and our own journey of faith. Another Judith Carpenter series will be offered in 2014.
How to Read the Bible
Have you tried to read the Bible, only to find yourself a bit overwhelmed by its complexity? Are you disoriented by the huge gap between our modern culture and ancient Biblical times? Have you struggled to make sense of what you have read for your own life? You are certainly not alone, but a few basic reading strategies and some easy to use tools can open up a lifetime of engagement in reading scripture and applying it to our lives. In fall 2012, we offered a four-part series looking at new ways to read and interpret the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). In spring 2013, we continued the program with a four-part series on the New Testament, and in fall, 2013, there was a four-week series on the Psalms.
In Spring 2014, Rev. Dr. Darrell Huddleston will lead another series on a book from the New Testament.
Catholic? Episcopal? What’s the difference?
Many newcomers to St. Paul’s – as well as many of our longstanding members – come from a Roman Catholic background, and we often hear the comment that our services are “almost the same!” There are some similarities between our two denominations, it’s true, and of course there are some differences too. During November 2012 and January 2013 we explored the journey many St. Paul's parishioners have made, or are making, between the two denominations. We discussed the similarities in our ways of worship, the differences in governance and authority, and the ways in which belief and doctrine compare.
Catholic? Episcopal? What’s the difference? was offered again on Sunday mornings in November 2013.
Education for Ministry (EfM)
EfM is a lay theological program, begun in 1975 by the School of Theology at Sewanee, which offers a grounding in the Christian tradition. The seminar format of weekly meetings provides deep opportunities for learning, reflection, spiritual growth, and eventual service. A trained mentor guides each of two groups meeting this school year at St. Paul's. Because the Diocese of New Hampshire is a sponsoring diocese for the program, tuition costs are reduced for students, and financial aid is available for St. Paul's parishioners. According to the EfM website, "While the course materials provide substantial academic content, the focus of the program is on life as ministry and in understanding that ministry."
The EfM program, which can be completed in four years, provides Christians with the basic skills in theological reflection, which lay the foundation of Christian ministry. Through this process, students sharpen their skills of personal and cultural assessment and enhance their ability to be effective in a variety of ministries.
There are three EfM classes meeting currently at St. Paul's and there will be another opportunity to join a group in fall 2014.
On Wednesday evenings during the season of Advent 2012, we welcomed four special guests to St. Paul’s for Perspectives on Advent. Each guest came from a different Christian denomination and each one brought his or her own perspective on this holy season. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore the many layers and angles of Advent, as we prepared ourselves for Emmanuel, God with us.
In 2013, we offered three different approaches to Advent. Rev. Steve Blackmer's Quiet Hour with Morning Prayer was an acknowledgement that, although Advent is the season of waiting for the Word of God to come to earth in the flesh, we usually spend the season more in busyness than in stillness and waiting. On Tuesday Mornings in December 3, 10, 17 & 24, we gathered in the Chapel in silence from 7:15 to 7:35, followed by Morning Prayer, then silence again till 8:15.
Rev. Dr. Darrell Huddleston led a series called Watch for the Light on the four Sundays of Advent. This took the form of discussion inspired by essays by different authors, on the following topics: Annunciation, Waiting, Light, and Stable.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and is still speaking to us today. So Says the Lord was a discussion and meditation series led by Rev. Kate Atkinson and Shawn LaFrance on three Wednesdays in Advent. We gathered in the chapel at 5:30 P.M. for a simple, spoken service of Holy Eucharist, then shared a simple supper and explored some of the Advent texts from the Book of Isaiah.
Prepare the way of the Lord! Look out for new Advent offerings in 2014.
Belonging and Becoming
St. Paul’s is a place to belong, whoever you are, just as you are, and it is a place where we can journey together to become more and more the people that God is calling us to be.
Our spiritual formation series, Belonging and Becoming, is especially valuable to people who are new to the Episcopal Church, and is also of interest to “cradle Episcopalians” and other long-standing parishioners of St. Paul’s.
Each session begins with a simple supper at 6:00 PM and finishes by 8:00 PM. With Kate and Michael Atkinson facilitating, the first part of the series concentrates on spirituality, the person of Jesus, the image of God, reading the Bible, and the history of Christianity. Part two focuses more on the theme of “becoming” as we work together to discern our own spiritual gifts and ministries, and each create a personal “Rule of Life”.
Spiritual Life Stories
Who is Jesus?
Printed with the Image of God
From Garden to City
Christianity Changing in History
Discerning Spiritual Gifts
Personal Rule of Life
Our first Belonging and Becoming series took place during Lent (Part I) and after Easter (Part II) in Spring 2013. For information on the timing of the next Belonging and Becoming series, look out for announcements in GOOD NEWS!, our monthly Centre Point, and this web page.
Reading and Study
If you are interested in building your spiritual formation library, here are two online resources that may be of interest:
You may also be interested in this searchable catalogue of St. Paul's Church Library.
For more information about spiritual formation at St. Paul's, please contact Rev. Kate Atkinson.