PEOPLE learn in many different ways.
Our experiences of learning are influenced by the way we interact with our world.
Whether we are in a classroom, workplace, at home or at church, we are interacting with information and making decisions that expand our understanding of the world.
It’s interesting to think that the way we view the world shapes our faith and our understanding of the Uniting Church and vice versa.
The Uniting Church in Queensland has made a commitment to be a learning community.
As a community and an organisation, the Church seeks to encourage everyone to actively engage in experiences that will enable them to grow in faith and participate in the mission of the Church.
Dr Aaron Ghiloni, Education Officer for the Moreton Rivers Presbytery and Faculty Associate at Trinity Theological College,
suggested that learning in the Uniting Church is tied to the Church’s deepest held beliefs as expressed in the Basis of Union.
“Learning is a way we confess Christ in ‘fresh words and deeds’,” he said.
“Being ‘open to an informed faith’ means being committed to the risk of ongoing educative growth.
“Christian education ensures that our theology is more than words, our worship is more than ritual, and our spirituality is
more than self-improvement.
“Christian faith is a ‘divine pedagogy’ – an event of revelation where the teacher transforms life.”
Affirmation of the Church’s commitment to being a learning community is evident in many places.
It is in ethos and vision of our schools; it is in the commitment of those youth leaders and lay people who volunteer to lead youth groups, Sunday School programs and playgroups; it is witnessed in the sharing of stories is Journey; it is shared in the continuing education and training opportunities for our ministry candidates and agents and lay preachers; and it is demonstrated in the sharing of information and the interactions between members of the Uniting Church in Queensland’s Facebook community.
Learning opportunities are available across the community: through formal education in Uniting Church schools, Trinity
Theological College, Pilgrim Learning Community, and adult Christian education programs such as Learning for Living, and traditional Christian learning opportunities such as Sunday School programs and Bible study groups.
Informal learning opportunities include purchasing from UnitingWorld’s gift catalogue, attending youth group or Summer Madness, being an Elder, being a voting member of a Synod meeting or volunteering at a UnitingCare or Wesley Mission Brisbane facilities.
What they all have in common is that they transform lives.
Our schools are at the cutting edge of teaching practice.
At Calvary Christian College, learning and Christian values go hand in hand, as evidenced by their mission statement: “Transforming lives through quality education and Christian discipleship.”
Clayfield College Chaplain Rev Paul Yarrow said Uniting Church schools are one way the Church provides a Christian learning environment.
This is supported by the school’s vision to “be a learning community where all are encouraged to grow, serve, and develop their abilities in our Christian environment”.
Mr Yarrow said biblical content, faith and Christian values speak into shaping the curriculum.
As a chaplain, he seeks to support teachers and students in their exploration of these issues across a broad range of areas including considering the faith aspect of religious art as well as how faith is expressed through technical pursuits.
Mr Yarrow said that it is this environment that encourages students and staff , regardless of their level of participation in other parts of the life of the Church, to “articulate questions of faith and explore that for themselves”.
As a member of the growing Uniting Church in Queensland Facebook community, Tara Burton, Uniting Communications Community Liaison Officer, suggested that social media offers a means to connect with and learn about the diverse people of the Church across Queensland.
“The Uniting Church Facebook page is a great tool to contact and engage with the wider Uniting Church community in Queensland and Australia,” she said.
“Through social media I can interact with people in an easy forum which encourages input and discussion,” she said.
Dr Ghiloni said it was important to remember learning happens in every part of our lives, including spiritual pursuits.
“Spiritual capacities such as humility, patience and wonder are part and parcel of education, whether Christian or otherwise.”
Photo : Year Nine students at Clayfield College. Photo courtesy of Clayfield College