Saturday Workshops and Study Afternoons
Cost £15 per workshop, bursaries available. The afternoons include refreshments and will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral or in nearby churches; details will be sent with bookings. Bursaries are available for those for whom the charge would make it difficult to attend: please contact us for details.
|The Heart’s Time: Poetry and prayer|
|Saturday 25 February 2.00 – 4.30pm|
What has poetry to do with prayer? Janet Morley says that both are about attending to reality - to the beauty of the natural world, the passions, joys, and griefs of our lives, and the great mysteries that surround us. Poetry can offer a distinctive resource for our spiritual lives, a way to open up our contemplative focus and slow down our busy and distracted lives.
At the beginning of Lent, Janet Morley will introduce us to the ways in which reading poetry can offer us ways to explore our beliefs and vocations, give voice to our deepest longings, and address God more boldly.
Janet Morley is the best-selling author of books including The Heart’s Time: A poem a day for Lent and Easter (SPCK 2011). A freelance writer and workshop leader, she has previously worked as a theologian and adult educator for Christian Aid and the Methodist Church.
|Bill Viola's Martyrs and Mary|
|Saturday 8 April 2.00 – 4.30pm|
Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), a new video work by Bill Viola, the American artist, was installed in St Paul’s in 2014, and last year it was joined by a companion work, Mary. The commission follows the great historical tradition of commissioning art from contemporary artists to illuminate the great themes and stories of Christianity afresh for worshippers in their own day, and which has resulted in a priceless heritage of art around the world. Yet for some it proved controversial.
Mark Oakley, who was intimately involved in the commissioning of both works, says that Viola uses the medium – video – that mass-controls us, and subverts it to explore the human condition and to encounter the ‘unseen’, in a way that allows for a return of the soul. In this afternoon he will reflect on his experience of the commissioning process, on the works themselves and their impact in the cathedral, and what challenge and insights they might offer us.
Mark Oakley is Canon Chancellor at St Paul’s Cathedral, overseeing the learning and arts programmes, and a visiting lecturer in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at King’s College London. His latest book, The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry, was published last year by Canterbury Press.
|A Beginner’s Guide to Prayer|
|Saturday 29 April 2.00 – 4.30pm|
‘The secret of prayer is a hunger for God’ wrote Thomas Merton, and, ‘the will to pray is the essence of prayer’. Stephen Cottrell describes himself as ‘an experienced beginner’ at prayer who has never got much beyond this, but his long apprenticeship has taught him that, in reality, the beginning and end of prayer is simply the longing to know God and to be known by God.
But for many people, the ‘how?’ question remains. Bishop Stephen will reflect on what prayer is and how to start, or start again, including how to pray alone, with others, in all sorts of places, and in particular, how to find the way that is right for you. Come with your questions, struggles, experiences of prayer or its absence, and be prepared to be surprised and try something new.
The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell is the Bishop of Chelmsford. He has written widely on evangelism, spirituality and discipleship, and is the author of numerous books including How to Pray (Church House Publishing, 3rd edition 2010).
|A Restless Heart: St Augustine’s Confesssions|
|Saturday 13 May 2.00 – 4.30pm|
St Augustine (AD 354–430) is one of the most important figures in western Christianity and philosophy. Famously a convert from a restless, libertine lifestyle, he is best-known for his Confessions, the vivid account of his life and faith which sets a model for self-discovery and still speaks to us with extraordinary freshness, 1,600 years later. In it he searches questions of human identity, love, meaning, spirituality, and his passionate, personal sense of relationship with God. The Confessions are written as a prayer, in which he says to God ‘You have struck my heart with your word, and I have fallen in love with you’.
In this study afternoon, Cally Hammond will introduce this fascinating figure, crucial to Christian thought, and explore something of what his most famous work can teach us about ourselves, our faith and God today.
The Revd Dr Cally Hammond is Dean of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. The author of numerous academic and spiritual works, her new translation of Augustine’s Confessions was commissioned by Harvard University’s Leob Classical Press and published to great acclaim last year.