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Pilgrim on the move

Pilgrim Learning Community staff, Neil Thorpe, Rev Dr Marian Zaunbrecher and administrator Tilla Gibson. Photo by Osker Lau

THE new year has brought changes to the Queensland Synod's Pilgrim Learning Community (PLC) with the commencement of a new Director, Neil Thorpe, and Christian Educator, Rev Dr Marian Zaunbrecher.

Over the years the work of Rev Dr Rob Bos, who retired in 2011, and Rev Karyl Davison, who now works in the Presbytery
and Synod of Western Australia, was invaluable in building up PLC and its critical role of lay education and Christian

Mr Thorpe comes to the role after working in Queensland Education for 25 years.

"My vision is for Pilgrim to take its part in helping our lay people to become much more informed and therefore take a greater partnership with the clergy in making sure the Vision of the Uniting Church in Queensland actually takes shape," he said.

"We have a part to play in the Together on the way, enriching community journey and I'm hoping that as the year unfolds and as congregations participate more fully in that journey, that we can support congregations and presbyteries in their work in Christian formation."

Mr Thorpe hopes PLC will network with others in the Uniting Church to provide courses and support programs that really do enhance an informed laity partnering with clergy.

Dr Zaunbrecher has worked in lay education in three Synods and was previously in the role of Queensland Synod Associate General Secretary.

In recent years she has been involved in supporting the work of PLC in many areas and wants to work with the solid foundation that has already been built.

"I want to continue the heritage that Karyl Davison and Rob Bos have left us with at Pilgrim and continue the enthusiasm and excitement that is generated, especially by the lay preacher's courses."

She said the courses are not just for people who want to be lay preachers.

"It is not just important to have good lay preachers, it is really important to have an educated laity.

Unfortunately I think sometimes people haven't progressed their understanding of their faith.

"Sermons aren't there to educate people, they are there to challenge and refresh."

Dr Zaunbrecher said that as one of the Uniting Church's specified ministries, lay preachers play a vital role in supporting the minister and, at times, taking the minister's place in a congregation.

"In isolated communities it is really important to have educated lay preachers because often they are the ones who sustain congregations in worship," she said.

Dr Zaunbrecher said there are many benefits of doing a lay preachers course.

"I think people will fi nd that their faith will grow and will be challenged.

Often lay people are working in isolation so there is a sense of collegiality.

Often there is a spiritual hunger that is fulfilled as a result of the courses.

"You can almost literally see the light bulbs going on in people's minds as they participate in a lay preacher's course.

It is an emotional, intellectual, exciting environment."

PLC is also responsible for assisting ordained (as well as lay) ministers with their continuing education and will host an inservice for Pastors in July.

PLC is now located on level 2 of the Synod office, 60 Bayliss St, Auchenflower. For more information on PLC visit www.pilgrim.qld.edu.au

Photo : Pilgrim Learning Community staff, Neil Thorpe, Rev Dr Marian Zaunbrecher and administrator Tilla Gibson. Photo by Osker Lau