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Home Events The 2023 Whitley at Whitley Lecture

The 2023 Whitley at Whitley Lecture

3 Aug 2023

‘Learning from Young People’s Experiences of Communion: Re-envisioning the Meal as a Space for Nurturing Faith.’

Linda is a Baptist Minister with a portfolio ministry, working in a freelance capacity as spiritual director, mentor and coach to individuals and church groups.

The respondent is Grace Lung, a graduate of the Australian College of Theology and Fuller Seminary, who pastors a second-generation Asian congregation.

Hosted by Whitley College, this lecture will be available in person at St Paschal (90 Albion Rd Box Hill) and online via Zoom. Zoom details will be available soon.

Friday September 8th
6.00pm – 8:00pm
We invite you to attend from 5pm to mingle with others over light refreshments.

Please register your attendance by Friday September 1st by clicking here.

About the lecture:

The status of children and young people at the table of the Lord is still uncertain in many of our churches today. In her Whitley Lecture, Linda Hopkins invites us to reflect on the way we create sacred spaces that welcome the insight and presence of these growing generations. She challenges us to be bolder and more willing to consider how we do this when we meet to share bread and wine.

This lecture invites us to reimagine communion as a sacred space in which all are welcomed. In particular, she invites us to recognise that even the simplest communion meal is a ritual and that attending to what is both seen and heard is essential, for so much of our learning is experiential.

Linda considers the liminal quality of adolescence, in which the questions young people ask can serve as a gift for the whole church. She draws on her research with young people in Baptist churches, which offered a safe space for young people to express views on their experiences of communion. Giving voice to young people and enabling them to be heard and valued was central to her approach. She used visual ethnography to allow feelings to be named and new insights to emerge, and through this approach shows how ‘bottom up’ learning began to happen. This has so much to teach us all.

In the lecture Linda draws on theories of learning, considers the ritual space of communion in our Baptist settings, and works with her research findings to show how we might re-envision the communion meal for young and old; growing, learning, and being nurtured in faith alongside one another. As Linda affirms, sacred spaces in which young people are genuinely welcomed, including communion, are spaces in which we discover, perhaps joyfully like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, that we all are pilgrims together.

More about the lecturer:

Linda studied and taught youth work and ministry, has an MA in Reflective Practice and Applied Theology and is completing her doctoral research in Contextual Theology at Luther King House, Manchester. She recently served Waterloo United Free Church, Merseyside (Baptist/URC), as their minister. She lives in West Lancashire with her husband Peter, and they have two adult children.

The text of this year’s Whitley Lecture has also been published as a book, and is available from Amazon here.