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New methods at Northern College

nc rAn important part of our whole-of-life discipleship journey is understanding the role which worship can play in helping us to live out our faith in everyday life, especially in times when everyday life looks different. Adam Scott of Northern College explains how the sharing of knowledge and practice in worship has continued in the midst of lockdown:

The Northern College lay preachers’ and worship leaders’ conference this year explored leading worship and preaching in difficult times. In response to the necessary constrictions of the pandemic, we made the conference an online event, and fully utilised Zoom for this purpose. This proved to be a helpful medium for our conference, which enabled participants from across the UK, and even internationally, to attend.

The conference focused on several areas, with Meg Warner, Old Testament tutor, drawing from her extensive academic knowledge and experience of ‘collective trauma’ to help participants understand the nature of trauma responses and the potential impacts of the Pandemic on our congregations. I, as tutor for ministerial formation, then applied psychological and spiritual conceptualisations of self-care to encourage the participants to think of creative ways of looking after themselves, as well as building resilience in the congregations they serve through leading worship and preaching. Rosalind Selby, our Principal, led us in a time of worship based on the lectionary readings, and facilitated a session exploring how the Lectionary can be used as a resource for preaching and worship leading during this difficult time. In the final session of the conference, I used the community psychology concept of ‘a sense of community’ to think about ways we can actively build community through worship using platforms such as Zoom worship, telephone worship, and other forms of paper-based worship. He also supported the participants to consider how the restrictions in traditional worship may require them to reconsider their identities as lay preachers and worship leaders, and learn new ways of being.

Whilst we had some concern about having an online conference, the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, with some saying they could not have attended if it had not been online. The initial feedback from the participants shows that they found the conference helpful and inspiring as they face the ‘New Normal’. Some participants reflected that they would benefit from further training in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of leading worship online, and that they would like to be utilised more in the worshiping life of their church communities.

The College is actively thinking about ways it can support people across the URC in exploring worship and discipleship in these challenging times, so if we can be of any help, or you have any ideas or good practice to share, please email adam.scott@lkh.co.uk

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