Conferences

Youth Ministry Roundtable – Sydney

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

When is it happening: Friday 19th February 2016,1 pm – 4pm
Where do I go: The Salvation Army Auburn Corps, 166-170 S Parade, Auburn NSW 3170.
How much does it cost: There is no cost.
Who should attend: Anyone involved in directing youth ministries.

What can I expect?: Discussion of Issues for the Future of Youth Ministry
including reference to the following topics:
• Training, accreditation and support of youth leaders
• The role of intergenerational activities in churches
• Collaboration with parents
• Youth ministry beyond the church
• The role of camps festivals and special events
The Roundtable will provide opportunity for leaders in youth ministry to discuss their work. It will be facilitated by Rev Dr Philip Hughes and Dr Armen Gakavian of the Christian Research Association who have recently completed research projects involving 21 case-studies of youth ministry in various parts of Australia.

You may register for this Roundtable by using the form below.

 

cforms contact form by delicious:days

Youth Ministry Training Day

Monday, January 4th, 2016

When: Saturday the 30th of January 2016,  9.30am – 4pm

Where: Eastern College Australia (formerly Tabor Vic) 44-60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave VIC 3170.

How much: $40.00 – includes lunch

Who should attend: Anyone involved in leadership in youth ministry

What can I expect: A range of workshops including:

  • Developing a youth leadership team
  • Working with parents
  • Building lasting faith
  • Mentoring and support for youth leaders
  • Reaching beyond the church in youth ministry
  • Dynamic Growth Groups
  • Organisation and communication in youth ministry

Workshop leaders include: Kylie Butler, Andy Mitchell, Dave Fuller, Akhil Gardner and Gavin Brown. There will also be a panel discussion of the application of the CRA research on Youth Leadership

Click here to register

Harvest Bible College 3rd Research Conference

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

3RD RESEARCH CONFERENCE
MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES ON
CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
29 – 30 AUGUST 2013
HARVEST BIBLE COLLEGE

Growing Youth Spirituality Conference – An Overview

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

On Friday 19th and Saturday 20th July, more than 80 people gathered at Tabor College in Melbourne for the ‘Growing Youth Spirituality’ conference. Those who attend came from around Australia. Many were working as teachers or chaplains in schools. Others were youth workers and some were working in local churches. Some ministers, a couple of priests and a bishop joined the conference. Others participants were working in educational or denominational offices developing programs and activities for youth ministry. People from a broad range of denominations attended the conference.

The conference began by noting that, materially, young people in Australia are doing very well. Most are beneficiaries of a wealthy, prosperous culture where there is high quality education and healthcare and where the leisure options for distracting them are endless. However, many young Australians are not feeling good about life. They are finding it hard to make sense of it and to find a place and a purpose. Associated with this is the fact that most young Australians find that religious traditions and commitments do not connect well with them.

Philip Hughes (Christian Research Association) and Rowan Lewis (Tabor College) explored sociological and psychological accounts why Australian young people are not connecting easily with religious traditions or finding a sense of place and purpose in life. Philip Hughes noted that most young people have been raised to work through the meaning of life experiences from individualistic perspectives which seek meaning in their own subjectivity and experience rather than through reason and duty. Rowan Lewis spoke of young people’s need to belong, but they also the processes of individuation through which they find their personal identity.

Friday evening, Naomi Swindon from Scripture Union earthed the conference through stories of young people who had not found it easy to find a place in society. She told of how projects such as the developing a BMX track, or encouraging people to care for trees affected by drought, or mentoring had led to a concern for others beyond themselves and a sense of place and identity. She spoke of how there is gold in every person, sometimes covered by dirt, but how ‘growing spirituality’ involves finding that gold.

On Saturday morning, Rachael Kohn, the presenter of ‘The Spirit of Things’ on ABC National Radio, reminded us that part of growing spirituality means accepting contradictions and vulnerability. She noted that many young people want to be in control and to have answers. However, as Archbishop Rowan Williams has said, people who work among the suffering live with the big questions unanswered. She suggested, as a response to this, in growing youth spirituality, our focus should be more on how we live and what we do, rather than what we believe.

Three presenters spoke of different ways and different contexts in which Australians are trying to ‘grow youth spirituality’. Kath Engebretson (Australian Catholic University) spoke of the lack of understanding of the Christian tradition among students in Catholic schools and the need for a special effort to pick up again the ‘chain of memory’ which constitutes the Christian tradition.

Stephen Chatelier spoke of the Christian school context. He said that some of the students see the emphasis on faith at school as ‘overload’ in the way it complements home and church and see its demands as embarrassing among their peers. Some react to being ‘Bible bashed’ while others say they have faith and don’t want to think more about it. Stephen suggested some Christian schools are too focussed on thinking and conception rather than the affective domain and practice. He suggested that the emphasis on spirituality needed to ‘normalised’ in the students’ experience as a whole ethos, rather than something extra that was forced on them. He argued that Christian schools needed to invite, not demand, the journey into the spiritual and there needed to be an openness to diverse responses to the divine rather than the formation of cloistered communities.

Peter Mangold, a chaplain at a government school in Victoria, began by noting his very different context in which young people found it very strange to think about religion or spirituality. He suggested that, in that context, it was often most helpful to think of helping young people to develop a framework of meaning and to support young people in making sense of the experiences of life. In so doing, he said, one must help them re-shape unhelpful beliefs and assist in the integration of experiences into their lives and making explicit values and perspectives. He argued that the role of the chaplain is journeying with people in a relational way, mentoring relationships and helping young people to engage with the ‘largeness of life’. He spoke of ways in which he was doing this through ‘Changing Perspectives’ camps and through teaching psychology and personal health.

Four other speakers briefly outlined specific programs through which they were addressing the growth of spirituality among young people. Karen Dymke (a teacher and consultant) spoke about the Rite Journey, developing positive rites of passage through processes of challenge and celebration as young people move into adulthood. Rohan Waters (a former teacher and chaplain) spoke of his program, Veta, which offers Christian learning pathways for young people. Angela Sawyer (Victorian Council for Christian Education) spoke of the need to develop contextual Bible study which would be transformative of the lives of young people. Stephen Reid (Christian Research Association) noted the dominance of sport in the lives of most Australians and asked if sport could be incorporated into the vision of youth ministry. He noted briefly the research he was doing on sports chaplaincy as a way of engaging with young people.

In the afternoon, the morning’s speakers had the opportunity to take participants deeper through workshops, providing more information about the various resources and contexts for growing youth spirituality.

Thus, the conference stimulated the participants by opening up the challenges of growing youth ministry and by suggesting a variety of methods and resources through which one might respond to the challenges. Several of the break-out groups which had met three times through the conference noted that there were no easy answers, no solutions were appropriate in all circumstances. Indeed, the very nature of spirituality cannot be simply defined or contained with a program or set of procedures. Nevertheless, the conference stimulated those who attended to reflect on their own situation, and perhaps to refine what they were doing or to try new ways of ‘searching for the gold’ that exists in every person whom God has created.

Philip Hughes

A .pdf of the opening presentation by Philip Hughes can be downloaded from here:  Growing Youth Spirituality: What the Research is Telling Us (Philip Hughes) (PDF)

A .pdf of the opening presentation by Rowan Lewis can be downloaded from here: Rowan Lewis – Developing Faith-Notes.pptx-3(PDF)

The Spirituality Of The Church

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Shaping the Spirituality of the Church

Day 4 of the Roundtable on ‘Shaping Australia’s Spirituality’ focussed on the spirituality of the Church. It was chaired by Pastor Rob Steed.

Rev Dr Philip Hughes began with the fact that there had been a significant decline in attendance in churches over the last generation with just 15 per cent of Australians now attending a church within a given month. The churches of list engagement with:

  • 90% of younger people;
  • 90% of business people;
  • 90% of people who work more with their hands than with their minds; and
  • 90% of second generation immigrants.

The problem is not largely the rejection of faith, but:

  • cultural expressions within the church reflecting the 19th century;
  • lack of affirmation of the workplace and business values;
  • high demands for literacy in expression;
  • strong connections with ethnic cultures;
  • not holistic in relation to life; and
  • often seen as irrelevant to life and society.

Churches are build around organisations and require much effort in maintenance. They are often build on local communities which are largely irrelevant, and their activities centre on the repetition of tradition rather than addressing contemporary life and society. They are often more focussed on self-maintenance and mutual support than changing the community, society and the world.

The new forms of God’s activity include the faithfulness, goodwill and sacrificial service of many people. Much happens in small and informal groups of people. There needs to be a change from organisation to movement. This will involve the formation of task groups rather than organisations, and the development of networks rather than formal associations.

Churches need to focus on relationships rather than structures, about living in families in our fragmented communities, in the pluralistic, globalised society. It is about living justly and with care and compassion. The primary challenge of faith is ‘to love God and our neighbour’.

Dr Ruth Powell (NCLS Research) noted the evidence for ongoing erosion of beliefs and practices associated with Christianity. She noted that there is a large ‘messy middle’ of people who are neither religious nor non-religious, neither theists nor atheists. Yet, for four in ten Australians say that religious faith or spirituality is important in shaping their life’s decisions.

Dr Darren Cronshaw argued for a ‘church revolution’. He told of his experience of emerging and experiential churches. He spoke of networks which nurture the spirit, rather than being static organisations. He spoke of churches which allowed people to explore faith rather than requiring a certain level of belief.

Dr Cronshaw argued that there were two areas in which the emerging churches had a little more to learn:

  1. Effective evangelism. While over time, the service component of these communities increased, the faith-sharing decreased.
  2. Many of these churches had experienced high levels of change but many were not good at the on-going processing of change.

Dr Bob Dixon (Catholic Pastoral Research Office) spoke of the massive growth in Catholic population since 1950. One of the strengths of the Catholic Church is its ethnic diversity. However, 86% of all Catholics do not attend Mass on a typical Sunday.

In interviews with people who no longer attended church, it was found that many felt that the church had become irrelevant to daily life. Some were concerned about the abuse in the church. Some had experienced some conflict. Yet, for most of them, spirituality continued to be see seen as an important component in their lives. The research found that if people felt that they would be welcomed, some would return to the church.

For an audio file of these presentations, right-click here and save the mp3 file to your computer.

For more details of the research, see Philip Hughes, Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context, (Mosaic Press, Melbourne, 2010).

The following people were involved in discussion of the research and the presentation of their own observations of the development of church life and the training of people for ministry.

  • Rev Dr Bruce Kaye (Anglican Church)
  • Pastor Rob Steed (Seventh-day Adventist Church)
  • Rev Tim Hein (Uniting Church)
  • Rev Dr Brendon Roach (Principal, Harvest Bible College)

For an audio file of these reflections and observations, right-click here and save the mp3 file to your computer.

Spirituality Of Family, Workplace And Community

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The Spirituality of Family, Workplace and Community

Day 3 of the Roundtable on ‘Shaping Australia’s Spirituality’ focussed on the spirituality and Christian ministry related to family, workplace and community. It was chaired by John Farquharson.

Rev Dr Philip Hughes began by noting that most people do not think much about ‘spirituality’ in relation to the workplace. While young people want their work to be meaningful, they mostly find that in making money for the support of their families and in funding their leisure. They may also appreciate activities in which they feel they can achieve something themselves and make a difference to others. However, there is little sense of ‘vocation’.

What young people want most in a job is (in the following order):

  • that it is interesting;
  • offers high pay;
  • have nice colleagues;
  • time for the family;
  • and provides some variety and excitement

Local communities were centres for local life, especially for women, through to 1960s and 1970s. Local community life has largely disappeared since the 1960s in the larger cities due to increased mobility, use of electronic communications, and in people forming community with people who share their interests.

Many churches serve ‘niche’ communities such as people with a common history or a common ethnic background. Most churches are now regional. Contributing to the formation of community is an on-going challenge.

Stephen Reid noted how family life had changed in the 15 years, with increases in couples without children, one parent families, and lone person households. There had been a decrease in the proportion of couples with children.

Yet, 46% of Australians see ‘family life’ as the most critical issue for human societies today.

While the proportion of de facto relationships, 83% of Australians disagree that ‘marriage is an out-dated institution’. However, household roles are becoming less defined by gender.

There are a number of indicators that suggest that family life is not strong in contemporary Australian society:

  • more than one-third of marriages end in divorce;
  • 5 per cent of Australians say they are not treated well by their partners;
  • domestic violence is increasing;
  • child abuse is increasing;
  • many people living alone are lonely.

Churches make significant contributions to family life through:

  • family-friendly activities and worship;
  • child-oriented ministries; and
  • encouraging marriage to be seen as a sacrament, binding for life.

Church attendance has been shown to be a factor in lowering the rate of divorce. On the other hand, there has been a cost to that in that many separated and divorced people feel excluded by churches.

Stephen Reid concluded by asking ‘Can a sense of community be developed in the churches which is more inclusive and encourages a deepening of the qualities of relationship in families and households in their many shapes and sizes?’

For an audio file of these presentations, right-click here and save the mp3 file to your computer.

The following people discussed the research and brought their own observations:

  • Dr Lindsay McMillan (Converge International)
  • Dr Therese Vassarotti (ACU)
  • Rick Brouwer (Total Wellbeing), and
  • Dr Terry Butler (Avondale College).

For an audio file of these reflections and observations, right-click here and save the mp3 file to your computer.

For a more detailed presentation of the research, see the book, Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context, by Rev Dr Philip Hughes.

The Spirituality Of Youth

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The Spirituality of Youth and Ministry to Young People

Day 2 of the Roundtable on ‘Shaping Australia’s Spirituality’ focussed on ministry among young people.

Assoc Prof Kath Engebretson (ACU) spoke about the high levels of mental illness among young people. On the other hand, she noted that young people do have a spirituality that includes:

  • hope – especially for loving relationships;
  • capacity to be inspired;
  • strong networks of friends;
  • concern about social justice; and
  • a capacity for an experience of God.

Rev Dr Philip Hughes noted that there are many ways in which the churches interact with young people.

  • About 15 per cent of young people have a frequent connection with a church;
  • 30% of primary students and 38% of secondary students in Australia attend church-run schools; and
  • around 30% of government schools in Australia have chaplains and many more have religious education.

Yet, many young people are, at best, equivocal about the church and the Christian faith. For many, it is not their ‘cultural expression’. Claire Pickering expanded on how young people look to their own forms of music, for example, to express identity, cope with feelings, give assurance and encouragement.

Nor does the church represent a form of community that is familiar to most young people. While young people appreciate cooperation, peace and social justice, young people’s communities are often not pre-arranged or regular, but are informal ways of ‘hanging out’ or connecting electronically.

Overall, Philip Hughes concluded, students appreciate the care that is offered by the chaplains, schools and churches. But they are not generally impressed with the Christian faith – which they see as a matter of personal preference. While we are succeeding well in pastoral care, we are not succeeding well in the spiritual dimension of preparing young people to live well in the world.

For an audio version of these research presentations, right-click here to download an mp3 file.

For further details of the research, see Philip Hughes, Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context (2010, Mosaic Press, Melbourne).

The following people commented on this research and brought their own insights on ministry with young people:

  • Ruth Pinkerton (Scripture Union, Tasmania)
  • Malcolm Hart (Youth Ministry, Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference)
  • Jeanette Woods (Christian Schools Association)
  • Grant Bickerton and Dave Huddleston (Campus Crusade for Christ)

For an audio version of these reflections and comments on the research, right-click here to download an mp3 file.

The National Spirit

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The National Spirit

Day 1 of a Roundtable on ‘Shaping Australia’s Spirituality’ focussed on the evaluation of ‘the national spirit’ and how the Christian faith and Christian ministry is relating to that. The plenary sessions were chaired by John Cleary (ABC presenter on religion).

Rev Dr Philip Hughes, senior research officer of the Christian Research Association, started with the fact that, despite the prosperity in Australia,

  • 10 per cent of Australians say they are not very happy,
  • 56 per cent are fairly happy, and
  • 32 per cent are very happy.

Among the issues are failures in family relationships, rural decline and uncertainty and the lack of a clear future for many indigenous people. There is also insecurity about terrorism and crime, climate change, and ‘who we are’. There are distractions in consumerism and substance abuse, but little vision for the future. If people find meaning, they find it in themselves.

At the same time, church involvement has declined with just 15 per cent of the population involved monthly or more often. However, the church-run schools have increased in numbers and there is a strong presence of the churches in social justice and welfare.

The churches are seen as protectors of family life, but as irrelevant to the major national challenges of climate change and building a sustainable economy. One of the challenges for the Christian faith is to tell the Christian story and expound the Christian principles of love and grace, justice and forgiveness, equality and the worth of all individuals in a way that demonstrates its relevance for the Australian national story.

Prof Alan Black (Edith Cowan University) argued that religion and spirituality are increasingly seen as a matter of individual perception and choice. We are living in a post-traditional era, with increasing electicism, he argued. In Australian society,

  • 24% find their sense of identity and meaning in the Christian faith;
  • 17% find it in spirituality – either of an eclectic style, or a spirituality of nature or land;
  • 2% find it in religions other than Christianity; and
  • 57% in secularism.

Of those Australians who are secular,

  • 16% say there is ‘something beyond’, but are not involved in any religion in any way;
  • 27% are uncertain about ‘the beyond’; and
  • 14% say there is nothing beyond (or hold to some form of atheism).

Prof Black argued that the way that Australians approach life (religious, spiritual or secular) has an impact on their personal wellbeing and on the social wellbeing. The nature of this impact is explored in the book Spirit Matters. (See our products page.)

For an audio version of these research presentations, right-click here to download an mp3 file.

For further detailed information about the research, see Philip Hughes, Shaping Australia’s Spirituality: A Review of Christian Ministry in the Australian Context (Mosaic Press, Melbourne, 2010).

The following people commented on this research and brought their own insights to the national story:

  • Prof James Haire (Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture)
  • Rev Dr Rod Pattenden (chair of the Blake Prize for Religious Art)
  • Rev Dr Colleen O’Reilly (Anglican Priest at the St George’s, Malvern)
  • Prof. Norm Habel (Flinders University) and
  • Prof. Des Cahill (International Studies, RMIT).

For an audio version of this commentary and discussion, right-click here to download an mp3 file.

(The conference was held in September 2010.)

25th Anniversary Roundtable Dinner Address

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Address by Rev Dr Bruce Kaye

Friends!

It is very appropriate that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Christian Research Association by engaging in a four day roundtable on Shaping Australia’s Spirituality.

Tonight at this dinner we pause our debates to celebrate a great achievement in the life of Australia Christianity and we do so with an enduring sense of thankfulness for the good hand of God upon this project.

How did the CRA come into being? What forces were at work at the time and how has it developed in its first 25 years? These are questions to reflect on at this celebration.

THE BACKGROUND

CRA was established in 1985 with the support of a group of Protestant churches and a number of other inter-church organisations. The National Catholic Research Council joined the group the following year in 1986.

The seedbed out of which CRA grew was shaped by significant wider dynamics.

The 1983 Roy Morgan Research Australian values survey, part of an international project begun in the Netherlands, was a sign of movement.

In the preceding decade evangelicals came back from the Lausanne Congress encouraged to take more seriously the social implication of the gospel and Vatican II inspired a younger generation of Roman Catholics with the drive to modern relevance in the Council’s decrees.

Individual churches began to look at social issues as did inter church agencies such as the Inter Trade and Industry Mission, ZADOK, and World Vision. The joint church controversial manifesto Changing Australia was published in 1983 reflects this revived interest in social engagement.

The dynamics of declining church attendance and the relation between gospel and society were in fact the Australian version of trends appearing in most western societies. These trends had a long history and were brought to dramatic focus in the turbulent 1960s and 70s.

These were the decades of student revolutions, of the Age of Aquarius, and they also presaged the collapse of the post-war church attendance boom. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s many people saw the grand 18th-century secularisation theory coming to fulfilment. They could see before their very eyes the Enlightenment dream of the triumph of human knowledge and the exhausted collapse of religion, especially Christianity and its institutional churches.

Yet in these two decades things could also be seen that would give rise to a major deconstruction both of the Enlightenment and its secularisation companion. Some sociologists in North America were turning away from broad social theory to a more specific empirical approach. At the same time a group of historians in Europe, led by Hugh McLeod in Birmingham, began publishing particular case studies of patterns of de-christianisation in European countries. Both these movements have grown in the last 40 years to such an extent that the comprehensive secularisation theory, whose fulfilment was so triumphantly proclaimed in the 1960s, is now widely discarded and more divers patterns of secularity are being identified.

Hans Mol was a Research Fellow at ANU 1963-70 and had been influenced by Reinhold Niebuhr in his theology and also by the empirical sociologists in North America. His 1971 book, Religion in Australia, brought these two themes to bear on the Australian situation.

These international changes and their local expressions were the context out of which the CRA was formed.

FOUNDING CRA

I recall going to a meeting in the church hall at Leichardt Methodist Mission, which my memory tells me was chaired by Peter Marshall, then working with ZADOK. Neville Carr, then working for World Vision, was also present and he became the chair of the group that was established as a result of the meeting. The meeting discussed a number of things very little of which I can now recall. However I do remember that one of the very important things discussed was how to raise the money to fund the project. World Vision contributed a substantial sum of money, I think around $20,000 in the first year and more subsequently. Under the leadership of Harold Henderson World Vision supported Neville Carr in his role with CRA and continued their financial support.

I was given the task of going to the diocese of Sydney and asking for, I think, $10,000. I duly took Donald Robinson to lunch told him what an excellent project had been imagined and how important it was for the Anglicans to support it, not just because they had some significant resources but also because they needed to get a better handle on their situation in society. Happily Donald Robinson was one of the few people with whom I had maintained a correspondence during my fifteen years in Europe and counted him amongst my close friends. He was able to tell me within a week that the money would be forthcoming and I duly reported back to our group.

Under Neville Carr’s chairmanship the new group advertised for staff and Philip Hughes was appointed. There were others involved, I remember Peter Bentley in particular.

Six years after the forming of the CRA the National Church Life Survey was established principally by the Anglican Home Mission Society in Sydney and the Board of Mission of the Uniting Church New South Wales Synod. Dean Drayton and Peter Kaldor led this project and they began a significant working relationship with CRA.

You will not be surprised that in the early days there was a great deal of vigorous debate about the nature of the enterprise. The various stakeholders had interests. The field of the sociology of religion and the history of religion were beginning to be influenced by new approaches.

In part, I think, arising out of these debates, CRA has had a strong interpretative element in its work. It was more affected by the academic disputes in the disciplines of the university and engaged more with academic sociology.

CRA has been a great collaborator. It has collaborated with the world of academia both in terms of engagement with academics and also in terms of its capacity to attract academic research grants and contracts to do academic work. It has collaborated with government agencies and won significant contracts to do important work in recording, researching and reporting on religion in Australia. It has also won significant church contracts. In the midst of all of this it has also managed to take its own research initiatives because it has been able to sustain sufficient institutional viability not to be captured by its collaborative activity.

The great success of the last 25 years has been built on the commitment of a small group of staff led by Philip Hughes. Philip has written so much, thought so much, imagined so much, that it is hard to think of the contribution CRA has made to Australian Christianity without immediately thinking of his extraordinary work. There are other names that will have an honoured place when a complete history of CRA is written. However, here I simply draw attention to the fact that the CRA has been a small organisation and its vitality and viability has been largely a consequence of the extraordinary contribution made by the staff.

I do not intend to discount in any way the contribution made over the years by the board. They have raised the money, maintained institutional continuity and provided the oversight and encouragement to enable the work to be done.

THE FUTURE

Looking into the future the interpretative role of CRA’s work will, I believe, be vitally important. There is something of a resurgence in Australian theology going on at the moment. May I say, as a theologian, that we need to pay attention to our context in the theological work we do and the CRA will have an important role in that process. Philip Hughes wrote in 2005

Many contemporary theologians and leaders of the churches reflect with great skill on the biblical text. They apply great scholarship to understanding the history of the traditions of the church. But when it comes to relating this to the contemporary world, many rely on hearsay, hunches and a little participant observation. I believe it is still true that not one theological College in Australia employs a full-time professional sociologist, psychologist, or expert on the analysis of culture, to assist in the formation of faith in the contemporary world. Few theological colleges take the contemporary context seriously. As a result of great deal of the theologising that goes on in Australia, bracket and many other parts of the Western world, ignores many of the major issues of culture: issues of the business world, of economics and politics, of world peace and the impact of globalisation, of mass media and mass forms of community.

This is one of the most important themes in the work of the CRA. Making sense of the contemporary context of faith.

Long ago this country moved from a colonial Anglican monopoly in religion, to a multi-church christian monopoly. More recently we moved to a multicultural and multi-religious society and are now moving to a dispersed plurality not only in religion by in professed values.

Older narratives of our nation no longer engage with these new realities and yet we need as a nation, and also as Christians within that nation, to discover some kind of narrative within which we can understand our own individual and community lives. That narrative will have to take account of the character of our secularity, our plurality, our institutions and values, and the character of the faiths we profess.

In the next 25 years I am sure that the CRA will have to engaged with these questions and I am equally sure that the foundations laid in the last 25 years will provide a solid basis for that engagement. For the present we celebrate the foundations that have been laid and we do so with thankfulness to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notes:

Founded in 1976, the Institute has brought an applied Christian spirituality and understanding into Australian personal, professional and public life for more than 30 years.

Its origins lay in the context of rapid change, both international and national, and in the vision of Christian lay people who perceived the need for a national study centre. This centre would provide study facilities and resources for Christians and the churches, to enable them to apply the scripture in practical ways to the broad scope of contemporary life, and further, to nurture a Christian presence in the Australian public arenas. Zadok was a priest in Old Testament times who had a key political role in the time of King David. As a model of political skill and persistent faithfulness to God, Zadok was thought an appropriate namesake for the national study centre.

World Vision was established in Australia in 1966. During that decade, World Vision expanded its operations to meet the needs of refugees in Indochina and of people recovering from disasters in Bangladesh and in several African countries. Where long-term assistance was needed, children began to be sponsored by Americans, Australians and others. 

In the 1970s, World Vision’s focus broadened from assisting the individual child to include community development. Since the 1980s, the “welfare” approach has gradually changed to a more collaborative relationship. Poor, marginalised people and communities work with World Vision to improve their lives and take control of their futures.

Educating For A Purposeful Life Conference

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

This conference was held on 5th and 6th August. It brought together a great variety of speakers on the themes of:

  • young people’s spirituality
  • developing passions and interests
  • the mental health of young people
  • developing leadership for a better world.

The presentation for the opening address by Philip Hughes is now available. Click here.

The