Twelve delegates from all parts of England from Sheffield to Somerset gathered together on a journey through a feature-packed course, set in the tranquil surroundings of Kingswood Meeting House. The course was delivered over three manageable Saturdays during May, June and July. At the reins was Sue Woolley, the MUA’s District Facilitator, with a top class guest tutor riding in partnership for each session.
After coffee and a civilised 10.00 am start, the first session set the scene with a course introduction and group discussion to bring us all together in defining what worship is. We moved on to highlighting the practicalities of leading an effective worship service and also the obstacles and pitfalls to avoid. The afternoon saw Dr. Jane Russell, a high level speech and language therapist, give important and valuable advice on public speaking, which included managing and protecting one’s voice.
It was good to come back together again as group for the second Saturday to start looking at the elements that make up a successful service in more depth. We discussed pulling together ideas and components from the vast spectrum of resources available to us. The star turn for the day was Rev. Linda Hart, who kindly travelled from Richmond to deliver two barn-storming sessions, one on the address, and the other a master-class on storytelling.
We reached the final straight, chomping at the bit and eager to gain more knowledge from the final Saturday. Sue led a fantastic discussion based on example materials that each of us had brought with us on the heady subject of the environment. Rev. Ant Howe from Kingswood joined us to give us his valuable take on prayer and meditation. After lunch, we headed into the historic chapel as part of a focus on hymns and music. Ant drew on his breadth and depth of knowledge in an effort to help us hit the right notes for selecting musical elements to our services. The group did a sterling job of filling the chapel with our dulcet tones.
We finished the course delighted to receive our well earned certificates. With the help of Sue’s skilled facilitation, everyone contributed to make this a thoroughly enjoyable experience, which provides a springboard to further courses for lay worship leader training.
Kristian Wilkes, UNM