The Church community is, first of all, a community that worships God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In her worship, the Holy Church nurtures and leads her children, and this is the foundation for all the teaching that takes place. This is most obvious in the reading of the Holy Scripture in the services, above all the readings from the Gospel and the Epistles in every liturgy. Often there will be a sermon to help with our understanding of the Gospel. Our prayers also focus our minds and hearts on the central truths of the faith, and insofar as we open our hearts and the eyes of our mind so we learn and understand more fully.
The most important part of our learning takes place in the family. What children learn in their early years provides the basis for everything. The children meet each week after the liturgy for a short Sunday School in which they learn about the Gospel for the day. This gives them the chance, with the teachers, to develop their ideas together. But their main teaching is, of course, in the family and support is also provided for the parents.
We provide regular, short study sessions, in which we look at particular parts of the Holy Scripture, or of the liturgy or of specific issues that arise in the faith. These are usually 10 weekly sessions of about an hour. Our current programme runs on Wednesdays at 11 am.
For those new to the Church, we provide catechetical teaching. This is tailored to the particular needs of the person seeking baptism, the catechumen.
For those free to take part, there is a fuller teaching programme provided on the second Saturday of the month. This is a full day, 10am to 4 pm. There is a one year Certificate followed by a two year Diploma in Orthodox Theology. For a number of years this was run in conjunction with the university, and is equivalent to the first two years of a three year degree. It takes place in the Library. Our Archbishop oversees the programme and issues the certificates, and he has named it ‘The Thyateira Midlands Ecclesiastical Seminary’. Former students have gone on to be ordained as deacons and priests and others have used the course to help them as teachers, but most simply find it a way of deepening their own understanding.