As frustrating as the restrictions of COVID have been (and are), sometimes they create unexpected opportunities.
That’s been the case with the Single Minded conference. The founder and chairwoman of Single Minded, the Rev Dani Treweek, says the original plan was to have an all-day conference earlier this year with the rector of Northbridge, the Rev Simon Flinders, speaking on “family matters… singles, church and belonging”.
It was postponed due to COVID and rescheduled online for this month, but then those involved began to have a rethink.
Says Miss Treweek: “Simon’s got such great material to bring us on that, but we didn’t think it would work this year because the last thing people want to do on a Saturday is spend all day on their computer!
“Also, this year is helping people really to wrestle with what church is, what it means for us to be church – particularly when we’re not gathering, or there have been such significant changes to the way we’ve been doing church for our whole lives. We’re aware that’s very much on people’s minds.”
That being the case, the organisers of Single Minded decided to change both the content and the format to make it more immediate and online-friendly, choosing to explore “a variety of curly questions” in a webinar each Wednesday this month.
“...because it’s not in person, that frees us up to bring in a few other people outside of Sydney and Australia.”
On October 7, author and Oxford pastor the Rev Vaughan Roberts will Zoom in from the UK to speak about friendship; the following week, singleness in a non-Anglo family context will be tackled by Susan An (the women’s and maturity pastor at Church by the Bridge) and the Rev Kamal Weerakoon. October 21 will see US academic and author of Breaking The Marriage Idol, Dr Kutter Callaway, explore society and the church’s obsession with love and romance, while in the final week Miss Treweek will look at why the Bible teaches that Christians should not marry non-Christians.
“We still wanted to have teaching and training material and to engage the community, even though we couldn’t meet in person,” she explains. “Also, because it’s not in person, that frees us up to bring in a few other people outside of Sydney and Australia.”
Of the first hot topic she says: “I’ve always been keen to see if we could get Vaughan Roberts involved in some way with Single Minded because he’s done a lot of thinking about singleness and relationships… a theologically biblical view on friendship always keeps coming up as we look at singleness. How does friendship fit into this?
“Vaughan is the author of the book True Friendship, so he can get us to think about friendships beyond just the superficial… and that really taps into the moment.”
As with all the group’s events, the webinars are for anyone keen to explore the issues under discussion. There is also an all-church option for any parish that would like to make the event available to all its members.
For more information, see the Single Minded conference website.