Sunday, August 09, 2009

'Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission'

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from the Revd. Canon Ian Hutchinson Cervantes, Chaplain of St George's Anglican Church in Madrid. As we spoke, Father Ian first informed me that he was a member of the organizing committee of the Church of England Diocese in Europe Pastoral Conference, which would take place in Cologne (Germany) on 21-25 September. Given the theme of the conference, "Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission", he said that he had pressed hard for a workshop on Godly Play as a way of welcoming children to be included in the conference programme. This had been accepted by the rest of the planning committee and an invitation had been extended to a Godly Play trainer in Germany to lead the workshop. All this had been carefully prepared months ago. However, just before Father Ian was about to leave for his summer holiday, he told me that he had just been informed by the trainer that she would not be able to make it after all. So, rather desperately I guess, he wondered if I would be free to step in and lead the workshop myself!

It so happens that the conference will take place just before another Godly Play training event in Madrid which I am also involved in, and travel connections from Madrid to Cologne are much less complicated than they would have been from Santiago de Compostela. So, I have accepted the task of presenting and repeating the same workshop to 3 groups of approximately 15 participants in each - i.e. Anglican clergy from all over Europe.

The workshop will be a practical introduction to Godly Play. It aims to offer the participants the chance to experience Godly Play and to assist them in discovering the potential of this method as a means of welcoming children, thereby enabling them to explore children's experience of cultural displacement and God's Spirit present and at work in their lives and in their experience of 'journeying'.

Here is some further information about the Pastoral Conference:
The Diocesan Pastoral Conference “Entertaining Angels: Hospitality as Mission.” This is the theme of the upcoming pastoral conference, the 2nd in the 30 year history of the Diocese in Europe. All the diocesan clergy, from Madeira to Moscow, Tangier to Trondheim, will meet at the Cardinal Schulte House near Cologne for worship, bible study, teaching, and continuing education workshops, to equip them further for their work of ministry and mission in Europe.

Their work will be supported by two keynote speakers: Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP and Professor Brian Thorne.

Fr Radcliffe is the former Master of the Dominicans, a widely read author on pastoral Christianity with a prophetic edge, whose latest book, following on the best-selling What Is the Point of Being a Christian?, entitled Why Go to Church? was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2009.

Professor Thorne is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of East Anglia, founder of Norwich Centre for Counselling Studies, and an expert in mediation and person-centred counselling. His books include Behold the Man: A Therapist's Meditations on the Passion of Jesus Christ and most recently, Infinitely Beloved.

Bible studies will be led by Dr Musa Dube, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana and a New Testament scholar. Dr Dube is a highly sought international speaker in academic and ecumenical circles and will bring fresh and challenging readings of the scriptures from outside the traditional European context.

At least 10 workshops will be offered covering a wide range of topics: Liturgy, reconciliation, welcoming different cultures, Godly Play, expatriate ministry, ecumenical ministry, interfaith dialogue, leading bible study in a multicultural context, ministry with the marginalized, environmental and ecology concerns in ministry.
The Revd. Hutchinson had called on me to help out at the conference as the result of the 5-year association I have had with St George's Church in Madrid, facilitating their development of Godly Play through a series of regular on-site training events. If you wish to read more about how St George's Sunday school embraced Godly Play, here is a short article about it from The European Anglican magazine.

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