By Mary Linda McKinney
The Faithful Meetings program has three primary components: An online classroom, learning sessions for the whole community, and small spiritual formation groups. Last month I introduced the spiritual formation part of the program. Next month, I’ll share about the whole community learning sessions. Today, I’m focusing on the online classroom.
Although I use my laptop and do most of my work connected to the internet, as I’m doing right now in a Google doc, I’m not very comfortable with technology. My husband is a computer scientist and I joke that if he dies before me, I will be forced to do all my work at the library because when technology glitches at home, I am clueless about how to fix it. (Bless you, Mark Wutka, for everything you do to keep me functioning in this world.)
When I was beginning to develop Faithful Meetings, I knew I wanted an online classroom to hold all the materials for the program and be a space where community members could interact. I’ve taken a good number of online classes over the past few years and have experienced how useful online classrooms can be. The School of the Spirit administrator, Olivia Chalkley, and I found an add-on to the SotS website that fit our criteria and she worked diligently getting it connected for me and making it accessible to program participants.
I had to learn from scratch how to create a classroom as the terms “user friendly” and “drag and drop” still assumed a lot more knowledge than I possessed going in. After months of trial-and-error and getting lots and lots of help, I have to say that I’m proud and pleased with the way the Faithful Meetings online classroom looks and functions. It is clean, easy-to-use, inviting and I would even say friendly.
The classroom is divided into lessons with each lesson containing several topics. Most topics also link to a collection of quotes and resources about that topic. Each topic also has a forum for the participants within a particular meeting to interact in.
Faithful Meetings is designed so that folks can participate in any of the parts of the program as they are able. Some will not be able to attend the whole community learning sessions because of scheduling conflicts. The topics for each learning session are what makes up a lesson in the classroom. Folks who can’t attend in-person or on Zoom can read the quotes and engage with the supplemental materials. In the forum, they can respond to queries, ask questions, or share thoughts and ideas. A new lesson will be added to the classroom each month of the program.
When I first conceived of the online classroom, I hadn’t realized how integral it would be to the entire program. I now understand that it has the potential to provide a rich new dimension to building intimacy among members of a Friends meeting or church.
If you are interested in bringing Faithful Meetings to your Quaker meeting, attend one of our upcoming information sessions or invite me to visit your community. Email me at email@example.com if you have questions or want to talk!