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New Plymouth group digs for understanding

In the early 1990s a group of Methodists in New Plymouth met to view a video called ‘Chaos’. On another occasion they discussed one of Bishop John Spong’s books.

Hilda Bak enjoyed the discussions so much she approached the minister of her church with a suggestion that they might meet on a regular basis. She organised meetings and topics and so Digging Deeper was born.

“I knew people outside the church who were also interested in these matters. I invited them to come along too and we now have some Anglicans, a humanist, and non-church attenders.”

Two groups now meet in New Plymouth. One meets Sunday afternoon twice weekly and the other on Wednesday.

“Since few of us feel able to prepare material we use video, audio tapes, or printed material as a starter with the understanding that we are welcome to interrupt whenever we feel the wish to discuss or add to the matter.

“Generally there are eight or nine of us. Over the years we have, of course, formed friendships with each other and this companionship is possibly the greatest benefit we gain from our gatherings,” Hilda says.

Much of the material the Digging Deeper group uses comes from printed lectures given at St Andrew’s on the Terrace. Another source is the Sea of Faith. They have studied Alan Webster’s discussion paper An Alternative Vision Strategy.

“In the past we have watched videos of Joseph Campbel on myths and one on Dorothy McRae-McMahon and her decision to tell the Uniting Church of Australia of her lesbianism. We have listened to radio discussions on ethical subjects such as euthanasia, poverty, and self-defence. We have also endeavoured to understand the Big Bang and its relevance to our faith and to look at other faiths such as Buddhism,” Hilda says.