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University of Exeter event to promote understanding of the Bible
A University of Exeter event aims to enrich and deepen knowledge of the Bible among parishioners following concerns not enough are confident in their understanding of their sacred text.
The workshop has been organised following concerns about a declining lack of biblical literacy among ordinary Christians.
It will provide professional development to clergy, in the Devon area, so they can support parishioners to develop their own knowledge of the Bible and theology.
At the event, held next month, attendees will explore and discuss recent research findings about the beliefs and understandings of lay Christians, their attitudes and approaches towards the Bible and how their further engagement with the scriptures might be promoted.
There have been calls from those in the Church of England, and other denominations, for Christians who are not theological scholars to be given the opportunity to increase their biblical knowledge.
The Anglican Communion’s Bible in the Life of the Church project, which looked at how “ordinary Anglicans” view and understand the Bible, found there was ‘some decline’ in biblical literacy.
The workshop, part of the Continuing Ministerial Development programme for diocesan clergy, will allow participants to discuss how to tackle this problem, how ordinary believers think about and use their scriptures, and how various resources designed for training Christians might be used to maximum effect.
It is run in conjunction with the Diocese of Exeter and funded by the St Luke’s College Foundation.
At the event Professor Jeff Astley, from Durham University will discuss what ordinary churchgoers believe, and Professor Andrew Village, from York St John University, will discuss how they think about and use their scriptures. The Rev Dr Tim Gibson will give an update on how a Diocese of Bath and Wells training course, called Exploring Christianity, was received in Devon parishes. The event organiser, Dr Cherryl Hunt, from the University of Exeter, will explain how various other resources designed for training Christians might be best utilised.
Dr Hunt said: “The perceived lack of confidence in the Bible among ordinary Christians is seen as arising, in part, from an uncertainty in how to read them and this leads to a reduced level of engagement with the scriptures and widespread biblical ‘illiteracy’.
“I hope this event will enable the clergy participants to develop work in their parishes which should benefit their local churches as a whole.”
Dr Hunt works part-time and teaches for South West Ministry Training Course and has worked on research projects on biblical hermeneutics in the University of Exeter’s Department of Theology and Religion.
She is currently writing a part-time PhD which seeks to establish strategies to enable better use of the Bible among non-theologically trained Christians.
The workshop, called “Ordinary” Christians and the Bible, will be held at The Old Deanery, Exeter on Thursday, 11 February.
Date: 14 January 2016