Grant steps up education

A grant from the Synod and Mission Resource Fund is helping to educate disciples to grow and serve.

The New England North West (NENW) Ministry Education Fund (MEF) was set up in 2008, with a Synod Mission Resource Fund (SMRF) grant. Its aim is to encourage a culture of education in the presbytery, as well as to provide access to education for both the laity — as individuals and congregations — and the ordained.

A recent review of the MEF celebrated that there has been a strong focus on resourcing lay leaders (88 per cent of expenditure), and on programs offered within the presbytery (70 per cent) with the latter being very cost-effective. There was wide coverage across the presbytery in the use of resources, and a good mix of whole-presbytery and local events were represented.

One of the traditional challenges for rural congregations is the lack of access to resources. Happily, the MEF has offered both the possibility to present courses locally and to cover travel costs when appropriate.

Currently the NENW Presbytery is engaged in a process of cultural and organisational change to a more missional focus. This is recognised to be a long-term process requiring wide engagement. It is hoped that in future a basic discipleship program across the presbytery will engage people in thinking anew about “church” and their own formation for mission and ministry in their communities.

The MEF is an important resource, enabling the presbytery to keep developing appropriate programs and courses such as the Sacraments and Lay Preachers’ courses. It also enables work in collaboration with others like the Pastoral Counselling Institute which ran a series of programs across the presbytery in 2010. It is also envisaged that a broader coordination role for formation will be created within the presbytery under the auspices of the Presbytery Ministry Support Worker, if funding support is successful.

The “Year of Matthew” course, held in Tamworth in February, was led by Professor Elaine Wainwright, an internationally recognised New Testament scholar. The course attracted more than 70 people from across the presbytery and beyond. This is the type of program the NENW Presbytery wishes to encourage and develop in the future.

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