Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 7, 2003
Christopher course builds confidence
Instructors' enthusiasm helps build people up
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Anthony Obleada, 23 is not a neophyte in public speaking. But when he joined the Christopher Leadership Course he learned something more.
"It builds up your confidence. It's very positive. It's nothing but positive feedback," he told the WCR, April 1, just before his graduation from the course, held at Southminster-Steinhauer Church.
"Of course they have critical comments to help you improve but overall they just keep on building you up until you are ready to speak in front of a massive audience."
Obleada says the skills one can get from this program are remarkable whether one is already a public speaker or is just beginning to acquire those skills.
The course has been offered in Canada since 1953. The Lumen Institute, which is the governing body for all Christopher Leadership Courses, is responsible for the professional training and certification of all instructing teams.
Class instruction is undertaken by dedicated volunteers who not only receive regular skills training, but who have themselves taken the 10-week course.
This feature makes possible programs that are sensitive in their approach, time-proven in their effectiveness and yet at only the cost of materials and administration.
The course runs for three hours, one night a week, for 10 weeks. Each interlocking session is informal and challenging. The course is open to anyone over the age of 16, and no formal education is necessary. Courses are generally offered twice a year.
The word "Christopher" comes from the Greek and means Christ-bearer. An age-old myth tells of a man, St. Christopher, who carried the Christ child across a raging river on a stormy night. St. Christopher dedicated his strength to the service of others.
Obleada, who plays guitar at St. Theresa Parish, was encouraged most by the enthusiasm of the instructors.
"They are very infectious," he said.
Janice Martin, church administrator at Millwoods United Church, learned about the program from a church bulletin.
She thought it sounded interesting and something she might benefit from. It was also highly recommended by the minister in her church.
"I was very nervous speaking in public. I have done speaking in public but spent days prior to that in total anguish. I often wouldn't sleep the night before if I had to do some public speaking."
Since she has taken this course, she has become far more comfortable. "I've been comfortable, even talking one-on-one with people."
What she appreciates deeply in the course is the practice of applauding a speaker. "I was really uncomfortable with that at first. But I soon came to realize how positive that is and how affirming.
"That is one thing I hope they never quit doing. I never realized how affirming it is to have people clapping for you."
Martin says the skills from this course can be used in her daily dealings.
"If you take this leadership course, they would be able to share with you some practical things like how to present a guest, how to make an introduction, how to put your thoughts in order."
Jon Sharek, music teacher at Louis St. Laurent School, had a positive experience. "Aside from teaching the mechanics of speaking, they also emphasize being open in affirmation, which a lot of people might not expect."
"I got a frank look at how some of my body language and nuances affect the things that I do - how they affect my communication skills."
He also learned a great deal about listening to others and speaking in a way that would encourage others to listen.
For him the hardest part was making the decision to come to the first meeting. Once he was there, he realized "there is nothing to stop you from making this a successful course."
Victoria Forchuk, an instructor, said, "We give instructions on basic skills and then students, if they want to, go further. Some students go on to Toastmasters."
Christophers offers a second course, which deals with specific skills like chairing meetings effectively and doing presentations among other things.
"What makes it unique is that we offer a basic public speaking course, but we use it as vehicle for building self-confidence."
"I believe our thrust is to build people's self-esteem, self-growth and we do that in a faith and caring environment."
Three other groups in Edmonton - at Annunciation, Assumption and St. Edmund's parishes - are also finishing the course.
For more information call 468-6498 or visit www.TheLumen.com.