2018 Scholars, Writers & Artists

February

The Rev. Dominic Grant (United Kingdom)

Dominic Grant (born 1970) is a minister of the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom, currently serving in Wimbledon, southwest London. He is also a writer of new hymn texts, several of which can be found in print and online collections. His particular interests in ministry include:

  • exploring what it means to be a community, receptive both to insights from different cultures and to the unique experience of each individual;
  • fostering ecumenical commitment and a robust Christian unity within which diversity and difference are not just tolerated but welcomed;
  • enriching church tradition and liturgical forms through exploration and sensitive use of art, music, drama and multi-media.

For his Scholarship at Vaughan Park in February 2018, Dominic looks forward to exploring the ways in which New Zealand's unique cultural context has been reflected and expressed in the nation's recent hymnody – and to gleaning insights relevant to other lands, especially in places where the Church is now getting to grips with transformed cultural environments. Alongside this research, he hopes and anticipates that the experience of being a “sojourner in a far-off land” will feed and form his own continuing hymn-writing.

 

June

Clare Amos (Switzerland)

Dr Clare Amos is recently retired from her position as Programme Coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation at the World Council of Churches, Geneva, where she has worked for the last six years. Prior to coming to Geneva Clare worked for 10 years at the Anglican Communion Office as Director for Theological Studies, also holding responsibility for interfaith concerns. She was honoured to be recognized for her work by the award of a Lambeth DD in 2012. Clare’s background is as a biblical scholar and teacher, and in her past she lived in the Middle East for 10 years, both in Jerusalem and Lebanon, where she both studied and taught the Bible. A passion for the Middle East, its people, its mosaic of different religious traditions and its problems, has been part of her life ever since, and is partly what led her to work over the last 20 years in the field of interfaith engagement. Clare has published a considerable number of articles, features and short books in the fields of biblical studies, interreligious issues and spirituality. She hopes now that her retirement will offer her the opportunity to work intensively on the ‘big book’ she has long wanted to produce – on the theme of transfiguration as an integrating motif in Christian, and in particular Anglican, theology. She is grateful to Vaughan Park for the opportunity to write in such beautiful and peaceful surroundings. Clare is an Anglican laywoman with UK nationality: she is married to Canon Alan Amos an Anglican priest.

 

October

Maren Tirabassi (United States)

A bi-vocational United Church of Christ pastor since 1980 in rural, seaport, urban and suburban United States, my focus now is writing, leading memoir, fiction and poetry workshops, and being a literacy educator with new immigrants and adults with developmental disabilities. I also lead interfaith programs on liturgical writing, creative worship, and congregational inclusivity and enjoy mentoring new authors to write and publish.

The anthology, A Child Laughs: Prayers of Justice and Hope is my twentieth book. I celebrate connecting creative people across national borders, as well as boundaries of race, ethnicity, age, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and educational or economic background. In my recent books I discovered twenty-eight writers from Aotearoa New Zealand. I look forward to visiting them.

Project: The heart of a journey – a reflection on travel

“I’m not at home here,” may mean fear or openness to new experience. “You’re just a tourist,” is often negative, but people learn by becoming stranger or guest, pilgrim or wanderer, immigrant or refugee. At Vaughan Retreat Centre where seasons reverse those I know and the date is “tomorrow,” I will reflect and write on journey in our emotional and spiritual lives.

One resource developed for individuals will be a guided prayer and travel journal of daily spiritual writing invitations for sabbaticals, vacations, and journeys of many kinds. The “prompts” will invite poetry, prayer, reflection, flash fiction, sketching, watercolor, even “selfies.” This prototype journal can trace other travels – a journey with a parent in hospice, a first month at university or after an adoption or a divorce, the last month of a pregnancy, the path of chemotherapy, retirement or a new pastorate. A congregational resource will be outlines for a two-hour workshop and a daylong retreat based on journey imagery and the sharing of journeys appropriate during Lent.

 

November

Helen Calder (United Kingdom)

I am a British business graduate with 12 years’ experience in the glass and brewing industries, rising to senior management level. As part of a calling to use my business skills in the Christian sector I studied theology at St John’s College Nottingham.

I was on the ministry team at All Souls Church, Langham Place as director of administration from 1991 to 1999. I worked for the UK Evangelical Alliance from 1999 to 2016 as executive director: finance and services. In these roles my responsibilities included finance, HR, facilities, IT, team management, programme management, risk management and governance.

I have been a trustee of several Christian charities. I am currently a board member of the European Evangelical Alliance.

I left Evangelical Alliance in 2016 to pursue a part time portfolio: Using 40 years’ experience to equip charities, churches and individuals.

I have a growing Resource Index of over 50 potential resource sheets with a Christian ethos, based on my experience. Twelve are complete and in circulation. They are 400 to 1,500 words in length. They provide advice for charities and churches, leadership and management, end of life resources and personal skills. Some are already published on a secular website and three have been included as appendices in a Christian book about preparing for death.

Project: Practical Resource Sheets with a Christian Ethos

A month’s research scholarship will give me opportunity to complete 20 more resource sheets and to research opportunities to share these resources with charities, churches and individuals in New Zealand, UK and Europe, including an online-presence. I hope to run a half or full day workshop at Vaughan Park on one of these topics.