Setting up an Introductory Day on Centering Prayer
Having read of the importance of being part of a Centering Prayer group, I looked for one near me in Nottingham. There was none, I decided the way forward was to start one myself. .I contacted Elizabeth Smith, director of Centering Prayer UK (COUK) and sorted out possible dates with her for an Introductory Day to Centering Prayer. I sorted out a venue local to where I live in a suburb of Nottingham. I needed a room that could take about 50 people. I had no idea how many might come along. It also needed to have access to tea/coffee making facilities. Parking would be good and easy access for anyone disabled. I came up with a room in a local Church, which I had used before. It was also not too expensive. It certainly required a sense that this was what God was wanting me to do.
We agreed on a Saturday. This was some months in advance as I wanted plenty of time to plan and prepare. I decided that it was best for people to bring their own lunches. It is a nice idea providing lunch, but it creates an awful lot more work and puts up the cost. I worked out a cost based on 20 people attending, the costs for Elizabeth coming, and the cost of hiring the room for the day. The introductory course is normally 10.00/10.30 am – 3.30/4.00 pm. Then there was the advertising to sort out. I devised a poster and sent it round lots of churches, asking if they could put it in the church notices. Having personal contacts is always a great blessing. In fact, the majority of people who eventually came already knew me in one way or another.
I got an article about it in the local newspaper. Local newspapers are normally keen to get local news items. I put posters up in local shops and the post office. Some you have to pay for. Supermarkets normally have a community board and will put it up for free. I probably circulated the local churches with six weeks to go, then again with three weeks to go. All this is very cheap and easy when you do it on the internet. The more places people might see a poster, the better. There is a rule about people needing to see something three times before they act.
I devised a simple form for people to fill in when they contacted me. From that, I created an email list of people wanting to attend. It was important all along, from the poster onwards, to create the idea that there would be follow-up sessions for those interested. The email list is key in this. With an email list, I could send out reminders to participants closer to the day.
I got a couple of those participating to help out with the teas and coffees. This left me free to welcome participants on the day and to settle them in. Also, to sort out any needs that Elizabeth might have, though we had agreed in advance what she might need. The day went very smoothly and was not really a great deal of work at all. Thirty people came, which was ideal. They were a mixed bunch. They came from a variety of denominational backgrounds, plus those who had no affiliation with any church group. The moral of this is to work hard on people you know and ask people to spread the word. Go along to any church where you have contacts and talk to them about Centering Prayer and what the course involves. Seeing you in person begins to break down any barriers and misconceptions about what Centering Prayer may involve. I will look at the process of setting up groups following on from an introductory day, and how these might function in my next article.
By Richard Eddleston 6-7-17 firstname.lastname@example.org