It is not obvious at first glance that Fiona Bottcher began her working life as an engineer, but words such as ‘build’ and ‘structure’ pop up in her description of what was enjoyable about the Art of Story course she completed in 2014 at the Centre for Theology and Ministry.
Since that time she has been putting her storytelling skills to good use. Ms Bottcher memorably presented the reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians at the opening of Synod this year.
Ms Bottcher felt the course was very relevant to her current role on the ministry team at Brunswick Uniting Church as the coordinator of the Olive Way drop-in centre.
“So much of what we do as a church is around telling stories,” she said.
“Whenever we are communicating our vision to what we want to do in the world – to sharing experiences of our faith – to preaching and how we tell that story to the rest of the world. At the heart of all that is story.”
The eight course participants came from variety of backgrounds, which made the application and audience for the stories quite diverse. Ms Bottcher claimed this enriched her listening and her telling.
“When I saw how much I enjoyed the visual liveliness of a person practising to tell a story to children, I thought I would take hold of some of that for my own telling,” she said.
“I also loved stepping through – quite literally – the different ways we can make the best use of our memory. Some of the course was quite structured with some very tangible methods. Other elements were saying here is a space where you can really experiment on the edges of how you express things – do you do it big, small, loud or soft?”
Ms Bottcher said the Centre for Theology and Ministry, where the course is held, provided an ideal setting for storytelling.
“It’s a building that’s about coming together and discerning things and sharing knowledge. And the chapel space is perfect for contemplation and listening to stories.”