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Parish Education Programme


 Getting Clued Up!


Once again the Dunedin Methodist parish offers an Open Education programme.  We are confident that there is much of interest here for you and your friends.

We have called this an Open Education programme because you do not have to be a member of the Dunedin Methodist parish to participate in it.  We welcome the involvement of people from other churches and the wider community

As usual, the subjects chosen for this year's programme cover a wide range of topics, from a first-hand account of daily life in the war and terror-torn border between the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish state to listening to a group of teachers and educators as they discuss one of the hot topics of the year — the state of education in our modern schools.  We think you will also enjoy a visit to the outstanding Sinclair Wetlands, described as the most important privately-owned wetland area in New Zealand; and if caring for the environment is not your special interest, what about a visit to the local Jewish synagogue, the next in our hugely popular series of visits to other faith communities?

Our session leaders are all experienced and expert in their field: they will be happy to engage in discussion and answer your questions.  You can count on enjoying yourself among friends, and learning something useful — all at a very low cost.

Do let your friends and neighbours know.  And book these dates in your diary!

Colin Gibson and Olive Bain (Co-ordinators)


Every day our newspapers and television news services report another horror from the world of the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish state.  A terrorist strike, a retaliatory raid, the remorseless progress of an enormous concrete wall to divide the two peoples from each other.  Grief and rage, threat and counter-threat.  The peace-makes negotiate, the leaders meet, but is peace any nearer?  How can it be achieved?  Is there any real prospect of an end to such bitterness on both sides?  What is daily life like under such threats?

Christina Gibb, a long-time member of the Dunedin Quaker community which the Open Education programme visited two years ago, is a dauntless peace-maker who has done more than watch the images on the screen.  She has gone in among the warring groups, venturing into the Palestinian and Israeli territories at a time of personal danger and open warfare, to bring a message of peace and reconciliation.

To know about a scene of conflict is an important way of strengthening our own commitment to support peace movements and to learn respect and tolerance for all those of different faiths and circumstances.  Come and hear her story.  Don't miss this inspiring speaker!

Wednesday, 24 March 7.30-9 pm,   followed by a light supper
Mornington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington
Cost: $5


In February, two Dunedin young people, Christina Hughson (a lively member of the Mornington youth group) and Kate Bateman (a disabled young woman from Queens High School), were selected to attend a unique Symposium organised by the office of the Children's Commissioner.

The conference was held at Victoria University, Wellington, involving about 300 young people from all over New Zealand.  Some of the topics discussed were cultural identity, the use of drugs and alcohol, violence, education and work or life opportunities for young people, and there was a an impressive range of invited keynote speakers.

We've asked Christina and Kate to tell us about their impressions of this major conference and the issues which particularly concerned them.  Here is their chance to speak to us and to pass on what they learned about finding solutions and making initiatives for the positive development and well-being of all children and young people.  Here is our chance to listen to what two bright young people, already picked out by our community and youth representatives, have to say.

Come along and support them; it is not often that adults get such a chance to learn where it's at for our young people.

Wednesday, 21 April 7.30-9pm, followed by a light supper
Mornington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington
Cost: $5


Last year, as part of a regular series of visits to other faith communities, we spent a remarkable evening with a Dunedin Buddhist community, attracting a much larger than usual audience.  In previous years we have visited the Quaker community, the Bahais and the Muslims.  This year we have made special arrangements to visit a local Dunedin synagogue, to meet their spiritual leader, the rabbi, and to learn about the actual religious life of a modern practising Jewish community.

There has been such a community in Dunedin for many years, including some of the families who have made remarkable contributions to the artistic, commercial and cultural life of this city.  As Christians we constantly hark back to the Jewish tradition and its sacred scriptures, which we know as the Old Testament.  We still sing the Psalms, which reach back to the foundation of the Temple in Jerusalem, and we study the life and words of Jesus Christ, who although he challenged some of the faith practices handed down from his Hebrew ancestors, lived, witnessed and died within the Jewish community.

Join us on what will be a memorable occasion.  The actual date and time have still to be arranged; we will publicise these as soon as we can.


In a small French village where life has remained the same for hundreds of years, the wind of change is about to sweep through, altering its ways forever.

A free-spirited wanderer has arrived with her daughter, on the eve of the Easter Lenten period, to set up a shop manufacturing and selling her special chocolates.  Her arrival is frowned on by some of the locals, but to others her presence is life-changing.  Somehow, almost magically, her unique chocolates tantalise more than the tastebuds; they are curing lost hopes, fulfilling abandoned dreams, challenging fuddy–duddies and even the local priest's control of his parishioners and himself.

From its earliest screenings, this delightful comic film has ~ interested church groups and leaders.  Is this just a film about creative freedom and conformity, or is it a film about the sweetly insidious work of the Holy Spirit, blowing away the cobwebs and changing lives

See it for yourself, and talk about it with others over a cup of tea, coffee — or hot chocolate!

Note: the film runs for just under two hours, so we will start at the earlier time of 7.15pm,
to allow time for supper and talk.

Wednesday, 18 June 7.15-9pm,  followed by a light supper
Mornington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington
Cost: $5


Ever since the idea of a withdrawal to a secluded place to concentrate on the spiritual life was mooted, and the first hermits took off to their caves or desert refuges, followed by monks and nuns gathered in communities and living in purpose-built monasteries and nunneries, there has been much speculation about the mysterious life of the 'religious' (the Roman catholic term for monks and nuns).  As many of us know from ordinary contact with such people, and in some cases sharing retreats with them, there is much to admire in their lives.

Theirs is a regular life of discipline and order, of constant observance of the rules of their community and the prescribed offices of worship, of regular prayer and meditation, of service to others outside their enclosed life But popular imagination — reflected in literature from Boccaccio's Decameron and Lewis's The Monk  to Umberto Ecco's   The Name of the Rose — dreamed up a much more vivid existence behind the mysterious cloister walls, of feasting and indolence, of fornication and frustration, of jealousy, ambition and even murder.

Here is your chance to find out how it really was for a man who entered a famous order of monks, the Benedictines, and lived for several years as a brother in that order.  David Poultney is now a member of the Broad Bay congregation; his story is a fascinating one.  Be there to hear it.

Wednesday, 21 July 7.30-9 pm, followed by a light supper
Mornington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington
Cost: $5


From time to time our worship leaders introduce a story from the huge treasury of religious tales, fables and parables common to all faiths.  Evan Lewis has frequently drawn on the large body of such stories associated with the Sufi version of the Islamic faith.  Ken Russell is currently drawing on the Midrash tradition in the Hebrew faith, which includes many wise and witty tales, introduced in the pages of ancient Jewish commentaries  (that's what the word 'Midrash' means) on certain books of the Old Testament.

Come along and hear about these unconventional ways of presenting and dealing with religious and moral beliefs and prejudices: stories which challenge us to think about the world and the way we behave in it — and smile at the foolish behaviour of all human beings in every age.  God enjoys a joke; we can be sure these stories raised some divine amusement.

Your presenter has no claim to expert knowledge of these treasures of religious story: he just enjoys them, and thinks it is time for us story-hungry people to meet some of the most creative religious thinkers and writers in our long history.  Form a group of listeners — electric heaters will have to do for camp–fires — and settle in to share a night of tall tales (most of them short, too).  Learn a little, laugh a lot.

Wednesday, 18 August  7.30-9 pm, followed by a light supper
Mornington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington
Cost: $5

                             AN ORGANISED DAY VISIT

Just fifty kilometres south of Dunedin, nestled between Lake Waihola and Lake Waipori, lies a small but precious reminder of what the vast wetland area now known as the Taieri plain was once like.  A place of peace and tranquillity, where the only sounds you're likely to hear — other than your own voice — are the songs and calls of the many birds who have made these wetlands their home.  Described as the most important privately owned wetland in New Zealand, and stocked with native birds and fish species, it is also an area rich in the history and traditions of Ngai Tahu, the original people of this area.

Well-maintained walking tracks make access easy — even for those with disabilities.  There is a modern visitor centre and kitchen, and a small theatre where an introductory video describes the history, habitat and wildlife of the wetlands.  It is good to go there in any weather, and family groups are welcomed to use the picnic facilities.

We think that a visit will extend our desire to care for the natural creation, and to express our solidarity with Ngai Tahu, who see this unique area as both a living memorial to Horrie Sinclair, its founder, and to the Ngai Tahu ancestors who once walked these lands.

We plan to arrange transport for any interested in this outstanding example of an original natural environment.  Details of a date and time — we are thinking of a Saturday outing — are still to be finalised, but we hope you will join us in this unusual extension of our Open Education programme.

Details to be notified.


Last year, the Open Education programme brought together an extraordinary gathering of Methodist scientists or science-trained ptofessionals, all of whom worship in local Methodist congregations, to talk about their work as scientists, to ask what connects them with their faith, and to question them about their attitude to recent exciting but disturbing discoveries in the field of the bio-sciences.  We had a wonderful night.

This year, the programme brings together a number of the many teachers and educational administrators who worship among Methodist congregations in Dunedin.  We do so, because education and educational reform is a hot topic this year for parents and school boards, as well as staff.

How can we best prepare our children for the uncertain world and the cultural mix that is modern New Zealand?  How should education be delivered to our school children and studlnts?  What subjects, what themes, what skills?   Can schools act in the place of parents to provide morai education?  Do large school communities best serve the needs of modern students? What are the challenges facing educators as we move into the new millennium? — these and many more questions are on the agenda for what will be a marvellous night — and you are invited to bring your own questions and quiz our panel.  Get in on the conversation about education.

Wednesday, 13 October 7.30-9 pm, followed by a light supper
Momington Methodist Church Galloway Street, Mornington


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