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Engaging Christianity

‘Engaging Christianity’ is a course that offers a series of modules produced by the Department of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Chichester in partnership with the Diocese of Chichester.

What is meant by ‘Engaging Christianity’ is both critical examination and more contemplative explorations of Christian belief and practice. It is taken for granted that ‘Engaging Christianity’ is also about other religions.

Christianity has never existed in a vacuum. Learning about other religions provides greater understanding of other belief systems as well as a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition, its history, development and connections.

From art in Christian and other religious traditions, issues of religious diversity, to Christian spirituality past and present, ‘Engaging Christianity’ encourages a stimulating engagement through individual study and group discussion.

The modules are designed to enable volunteers to run small groups in their local community. A group can be started up at any time and with any of the modules listed below. 

The modules are designed for a range of abilities and backgrounds: anyone is free to join! No prior knowledge is required.

In taking any one of the modules you will be given a booklet consisting of material for seven sessions with the option of a further three. Each module is £15 per person.


How it Works:

If you are interested in running a particular module, see if there is interest in your local community/parish/church to start a group. Once you have a group, you can contact Heather Ballamy (h.ballamy@chi.ac.uk) with your choice of module and list of participants, to order the booklets each participant will need to undertake the module. Each module is £15 per person.

The group leader can either gather the payment from all participants and do a bank transfer to Heather (email her for details), or individual participants can transfer the money/send a cheque. The course booklets will only be posted out once participation is confirmed and the payment has been made.

You will need to identify your own venue.

If you are keen to undertake a module and are not interested in leading a group, you might want to speak to other people in your local community/parish/church who you think might be interested.

Speak to the clergy in your area and see if they might be able to suggest a possible group leader. You can also get in touch with Samantha Alsop, Adult Education and Youth Services Administration Officer (Samantha.alsop@chichester.anglican.org), for information about which groups are running and where.

If you are running a group in your local area, why not see if you can advertise for more participants through your local churches, clergy, websites, community venues?

If you would like further information on anything related to the modules, would like to offer feedback, or have any other issues, please feel free to contact Stephen Roberts, s.roberts@chi.ac.uk.


Courses currently on offer:

Representing Belief through Art

No prior knowledge is required; the topics are designed for a variety of abilities and backgrounds!

Representing Belief through Art is a module on religion and art. The module covers some of the greatest artists in art history such as Michelangelo, Giotto and Rubens, but it also engages with Chinese and Islamic art as well as modern and postmodern pieces.

Paintings, calligraphy, architecture, and sculptures will be discussed to explore a number of different vehicles for understanding religious representation. The module challenges the way we expect religious art to look from the Western tradition, by opening up for an appreciation of religious art also from non-Western perspectives.

In this way, less familiar perspectives are examined and some more familiar modes of seeing are de-familiarised. Through reflection and discussion, questions of seeing and interpretation are raised, as well as how we “see” and “read” stories from art.

Engaging Christian Spirituality I, II and III

No prior knowledge is required; the themes and topics are designed for a variety of abilities and backgrounds!

Chichester Diocesan Spirituality Adviser Andrew Mayes has written three modules on issues in Christian Spirituality, one on Classic Sources, one on Contemporary Issues, and a third on Spirituality and Mission. The modules are free-standing so can be taken independently or in any order.

Engaging Christian Spirituality I: Classic Sources is a module that covers the theory and practice of classic sources of Christian spirituality. Through this module participants will reflect on and discuss mysticism, Celtic spirituality and icons, as well as learning from the spiritual practices of figures such as Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and George Herbert.

Engaging Christian Spirituality II: Contemporary Issues explores a range of issues arising in the contemporary practice of Christian spirituality. We live in an age where there is a new openness to different forms of spirituality.

But this is also a time when we need to re-think and re-imagine many aspects of our inherited practice and ideas. Touching on diverse topics such as gender and sexuality, meditation, justice and ecology, this module encourages a rich and stimulating engagement with Christian spirituality today.

Engaging Christian Spirituality III: Spirituality and Mission explores a range of issues which face and challenge the contemporary practice of Christian spirituality. In the background is the temptation to privatise and individualise spirituality, and a divide between spirituality and responding to the needs of today’s world. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to re-connect spirituality and mission, and to discern in our spiritual practice our vocation to serve more courageously and generously.

Responding to Religious Diversity

No prior knowledge is required; the themes and topics are designed for a variety of abilities and backgrounds!

Responding to Religious Diversity is a module that navigates the complex field of different religious beliefs and traditions.

It is often stated that we live today in a “pluralist” world – a world where many different religions live side by side. Religious diversity is evident all over Britain, on our TV screens, in our neighbourhoods and in our families and friendships.

But what does religious pluralism and diversity really mean? And how does it impact on Christian faith and practice? Are we changed and challenged by our encounters with people from other religions or do we live and practice our faith in separate realms?

This module engages with these tantalizing questions through discussion, comparison, reading and reflection.