New course exceeds expectations

The first students in the Christian Basics course meet at Wycliffe College. Standing at centre are the Rev. Canon Judy and Pat Paulsen and the Rev. Canon Susan Bell.
 on October 1, 2016
Michael Hudson

Students learn how to share faith with others

A course that teaches the Christian basics is catching on in the diocese and across Canada.

The course, called Christian Foundations, is being taught at Wycliffe College in Toronto. It was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the diocese’s Our Faith-Our Hope campaign.

Seventeen people have signed up to take the course and its workbook has been ordered by 62 churches across Canada.

“It has exceeded every hope we’ve had,” says the Rev. Canon Judy Paulsen, director of Wycliffe College’s Institute of Evangelism. “It’s been really heartening to see that it’s going to be meeting a need.”

The course is designed so that people who take it can then teach it to others, especially those who have no knowledge of Christianity. It covers the Old Testament, the New Testament, Jesus Christ, the creeds and canon of scripture, church history and Christian vocation and service.

Canon Paulsen is teaching the course along with her husband Pat, who is an experienced teacher of the Bible and church history, and the Rev. Canon Susan Bell, the diocese’s canon missioner. They also designed and wrote the material.

The first class was held on Sept. 10 with 15 people in attendance (two more will join the group via video conference.) They will meet over eight Saturdays in 2016 and 2017 and take part in a commissioning service at the end in the college’s chapel.

The students range in age from early 20s to over 65 and come from Anglican, Lutheran and Christian Missionary Alliance churches. Some are coming back to the church after a long time away while others are active in a church and want to learn how to share their faith. Some became Christians as adults. They meet in a circle and the learning and discussion are done in a relaxed and informal way.

Ms. Paulsen says she will likely revise the course material based on input from the initial group. She’s also keen to learn how the students think the course should be taught, especially to non-churched people.

“We’re listening to how the material will present challenges for them as facilitators,” she says. A portion of each class is given over to discussing how the material can be taught to others. “Our hope is that next year we’ll offer a one-day facilitator training session that will focus exclusively on facilitator skills, in addition to the classes.”

The course comes with an attractive and easy-to-read workbook that includes photos, maps and discussion questions. It can be used for group discussions or read simply for its own sake. It costs $30. For information about the course and workbook, visit


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