Caloundra Explorers growing within and beyond

Now ten years in operation the Explorers Group at Caloundra Uniting Church has grown from within the congregation and an additional 100 + subscribers from across the Sunshine Coast. It is a group with representation from many denominations and none. With a team approach to leadership the group has a sophisticated set of protocols for ensuring continuous development and a welcoming profile. 2018 is going to be packed with great events and studies:

In his report to the Church Council, John Everell had this to say –

1. Book Study Discussion Groups:
a) First Semester – period February – March 2018 concentrated on discussions arising from the book “Honest to GOoD” by Rev John W.H. Smith with the sub-title “ Discerning the Sacred in the Secular”. His story of his unusual theological career opened up much discussion such as ‘family influence’; theological training’; ‘spirituality and disability’; ‘healing narratives’ and ‘Faith Communities of the Future’.
b) Second Semester will run for six weeks from 11th September to 16th October. The “book” will be Rev. Dr. John Bodycomb’s just completed but unpublished work “Twelve Healing Words”. John is very ill and it is unlikely that this work will ever be published. However, he has made it available to the Caloundra Explorers Group as a special gift to acknowledge the strong relationship that he and his wife, author Rev. Dr. Lorraine Parkinson have had with our Group. It is a lovely thought and very much appreciated by us. We continue to keep John in our thoughts as he endures what will be his last period in his life’s journey. We will prepare this into a six period Study for the second Semester. Suitable for the broad Congregation: Minor Printing and Folder costs will be recoverable. It has Chapters such as:
“Grief without Despair”; It’s hard to Forgive; do we know why?”; “When It’s hard staying positive”;
The grace of gratitude”; ”Enjoying who you are”; How’s your sense of Humour?”;
“Big challengers for truth seekers”; “Truth about things mad, bad and sad”.”Ever want to get away from it all?

2. “Gatherings”:
a) April 15th Gathering: Led by guest Dr. Paul Inglis of Dayboro Uniting Church and CEO of the UC Forum on the Synod website. He spoke on the results of a major survey by the SE QLD Progressive Network as to “The Progressive Call to Action-Revisioning the Church for the 21st Century”. His information and ten point summary became the basis for serious discussion and further interaction with the speaker. Meditations from Michael Morwood’s new book “Prayers for Progressive Christians” were introduced by Margaret Landbeck. Good attendance including strong “Friends” attendance.
b) June 17th “Gathering”: Theme “Parables and Politics – A Reflective Exploration “ Leader-Margaret Landbeck . Includes discussion periods and light byo community meal. Those attending this Gathering will be asked to bring their bibles as a resource for several reflective periods within the service.
The Explorers are extending a special Invitation to the church’s other three Bible Study groups and also the Congregation to join in this particular evening, as there will be much commonality to be celebrated around the theme of Jesus’ use of Parables.
c) August 19th “Gathering”: Theme “ What have we learnt from our ‘Exploring’? to be led by Anne and Pieter Hoogendoorn.
d) October 21st “Gathering”. Theme “Matrix, Memory and Midrash”;. Leadership Team under development.

3. Seminars:
Annual Seminar: Our 9th Annual Seminar will be held on Saturday 29th September with the Guest being Rev. Glennis Johnston, Counsellor, international voluntary worker and retired UC parish minister. She was the Spiritual Director of a multi-faith residential community in Melbourne before retiring to Dorrigo NSW where she leads individual and group Retreats at ‘Fernbrook Lodge’. She is the author of “Turning Points of the Spirit”- ‘a journey from institutional religion to authentic spirituality’. This will be a quite different theme for our Annual Seminar and we are working closely with the “Sunday Conversations” group from St Mark’s Anglican Church Buderim to have both our full day Seminar and their next day “Sunday Conversations’ feature Glennis. She is known to several of our clergy advisors and highly recommended.

4. Library: Four new books have been added to the Library, and quite a number of Explorers have also taken the opportunity to purchase their own copy within our order:
– “Turning Points of the Spirit” by Glennis Johnston
– “The Wind Blows where it Chooses” by Kevin Treston ( Catholic Education Leader– Brisbane)
– “Prayers for Progressive Christians” by Michael Morwood.

5. Church Profile: The following summary – “The Explorers Group” -has been developed to help the Church Council provide informed information on the philosophy, mission, and activities of the Explorers Group for the Church Profile and, particularly, for subsequent support for discussions with potential ministry placement applicants. It may also assist new Councillors in a more detailed understanding of the Explorers place and Mission within in the Caloundra church family .
The Explorers Group:
The Explorers Group, now ten year old, has a strong contact group within the congregation  whose spiritual journeys find comfort and support within the ‘progressive Christianity’ strands of theology.
They express their purpose as: “The Explorers Group is set up to enable people to experience some of the challenge and intellectual stimulation available from the growing breadth of contemporary theology and emerging biblical scholarship. We get together to explore, discuss and debate within a safe, non-judgmental and structured environment, recently published writings and lectures from contemporary theologians, eminent scholars and others.”
The Explorers Group has three activities supporting their ministry:
a) Book Discussions/Studies in two six week Semesters during the year- Tuesday afternoon group in the Hall and a Thursday night group in a private home in Pelican Waters. Attendances range from 16 to 24.
b) “Gatherings” –{set evening services – 3rd Sunday in every 2nd month}. These “Gatherings” allow a much greater flexibility in style and theme and particularly for a liturgy more appropriate to its underlying ‘progressive’ influence. A byo light meal is part of the liturgy. The “Gathering’s” discussion opportunities are the favoured interactive segments in the evening’s format. A ‘Theme’ has proved very popular. Usually led in turn by Explorers Leaders. Attendances range 25 -40.
c) “Seminars”- two to three a year, with the major effort being an Annual Seminar {the 9th Annual Seminar will be held on Saturday 29th September 2018}. Speakers are leading Australian or International theologians and authors. Attendances range from 50 to 75(capacity).
The Explorers Group’s “Friends of the Explorers” is a specific Ministry to people beyond this congregation. It’s contact ministry uses the regular “Gatherings” and, particularly the Seminars, to engage with (and provide support to) other ‘progressives’ from the Sunshine Coast and Hinterland, many of whom seek support not available in their own regions. Contact list has over 100 people registered. We also link with UC Forum and other SE Qld ‘progressive’ networks.
Our current Faith And the Modern Era series (FAME) concept is providing enthusiasm and inspiration as we look at the Explorers moving beyond ‘ simply learning’ and putting ‘knowledge into action’.

If you would like to be connected to this group, contact John Everell.


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