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.
During Lent, our Sunday morning forum will be a "Focus on Prayer". Come and explore new possibilities for opening your ears and your heart to God's voice -- and discover some of the many forms prayer can take. There will be four sessions in all, on February 17 and 24, and March 10 and 17, at 9:00 AM in the Library.
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 new 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 Bowls 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”.
Wednesday, February 20 Spiritual Life Stories
Wednesday, February 27 Who is Jesus?
Wednesday, March 6 Printed with the Image of God
Wednesday, March 13 From Garden to City
Wednesday, March 20 Christianity Changing in History
Wednesday, May 8 Discerning Spiritual Gifts
Wednesday, May 15 Discerning Ministries
Wednesday, May 22 Personal Rule of Life
Perspectives on Advent
On Wednesday evenings during the season of Advent, we welcomed four special guests to St. Paul’s. Each one 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.
Our guests included:
The Rt. Rev. Arthur Walmsley, retired Bishop of CT
Rev. David Keller, UCC Minister
Rev. Linda Lea Snyder, Interim Director, NH Council of Churches
Fr. Robert Tumwekwase, Catholic Priest and member of the faculty at Bishop Brady high school.
Look out for another fascinating Advent offering in 2013.
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.
We encourage those who participated in the series to attend "Belonging and Becoming" (see above) beginnning in Lent 2013.
How to Read the Bible
The Simple Bowls Program© focuses on simplicity in the spiritual life. The “Simple Bowl”© used in this program is designed to hold a full meal for one person, made with whole grain, protein, and vegetables. Participants either bring their own bowl or purchase a bowl made by the Rev. Canon, Charles LaFond. Charles is a renowned potter, as well as co-creator (with Rev. Jason Wells, Vicar of Grace Episcopal Church, East Concord) of the Simple Bowls program.
Each Simple Bowls session begins with a brief cooking class using simple, healthy ingredients to prepare a one-bowl-meal. Following a meal (eaten from each person’s “simple bowl”) there is a time of discussion about simplicity in food and life. The bowls themselves are icons to simplicity. The program offers additional options for maintaining a simple-living awareness, prayers and ideas for use with the simple bowl.
For more information, and to watch a short video about the Simple Bowls Program, visit the website for the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire by clicking here.
For the 2013 Lenten Series, Belonging and Becoming, St. Paul's will be serving a Simple Bowls meal at the start of each session.
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.
Members of St. Paul's Sunday evening EfM program have written a description of their class and some of their discussions. Click here to read it.
There are two EfM classes meeting currently at St. Paul's and there will be another opportunity to join a group in Fall 2013.
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.
Topics covered are:
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 find out when the next Via Media series will take place at St. Paul's, please email the Church Office, or call 603 224 2523.
Reading and Study If you are interested in building your spiritual formation library, here are two online resources that may be of interest: