testThat’s not really intended as a pun, but I would be interested to know if any readers of this blog have had experience with The Way, a course developed by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, under the oversight of Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia.

The Way aims to convey the essence of the Christian faith as understood by the Orthodox Church. It is geared both to those who have grown up in Orthodoxy but may be unfamiliar with its teachings, and to those on the fringes of the Church and those who may be making enquiries about the Orthodox Church. It aims to teach basic Orthodox Christianity as a journey of life centered on Christ, and to enable and inspire people to carry the Christian message to the larger community. In this it makes use of the method and group dynamics of the Alpha course (a similar sort of course developed by evangelical Anglicans), but is based on an Orthodox approach.

The course comprises twelve sessions that should ideally be run weekly. Each session begins with a common meal. Then comes the talk, DVDs of which are provided with the course. This is followed by discussion in small groups in which participants are able to react to what they have heard. After this there is a question and answer session in the large group. This aspect is original to The Way and is meant to be chaired by the bishop (if he is present) or the senior priest present.

The twelve sessions cover the following topics:

  • The search for faith – talk by Professor David Frost
  • God the Holy Trinity: “The Lover of Mankind” – talk by Father Demetrios Bathrellos
  • Being Human: Fully Alive – talk by John Bazlinton
  • Why did Jesus come to us? – talk by Gladys Bland
  • Salvation in Christ – talk by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware)
  • The Holy Spirit – talk by Father Michael Harper
  • What on earth is the Church? Isn’t God enough? – talk by Father Michael Harper
  • Living the Faith: 1. The Divine Liturgy – “A Pearl of Great Price” – talk by Father Michael Harper
  • Living the Faith: 2. The Holy Mysteries – talk by Father Raphael Armour
  • Living the Faith: 3. The Bible, Prayer and Fasting – talk by Father Raphael Armour
  • Living the Faith: 4: Christian Behavior – talk by Professor David Frost
  • Heaven on Earth: Members of the Church and Citizens of Heaven – talk by Dr Christine Mangala Frost

I have recently watched the DVDs and am impressed by the material presented. My overall impression is that it is very solid and tends to be low-key rather than high-powered and emotional – one friend commented that it was British rather than American! But the material presented clearly has to be appropriated and assimilated and I presume that that is why there is an emphasis on the group process and the follow-up question and answer session. The course also comes with a CD with a wealth of background material for running the course (right down to recipe suggestions for the meal!) as well as hand outs for participants.

We are planning to start The Way in Cape Town in July. As I mentioned above, I’d be interested to hear if others have experience of it. And if anyone in Cape Town sees this and is interested, I’ll post more details once they are available.

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