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Growing Young People's Spirituality

This conference, consisting of seminars and plenary sessions, will be invaluable for parents, youth leaders, pastors, teachers and chaplains as we explore practical ways to develop the faith of young people. This conference is a joint project of Christian Research Association, Tabor Victoria and Stirling Theological College.

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Gone are the days of young people simply adopting the identity and faith of their family or community of origin. The 'village' that now raises our children is filled with a plurality of cultures, fads and corporate-driven images. With smaller families and age-stratified classrooms we now raise young people to make their own decisions, to evaluate their options and choose their own path. More than ever before, faith, identity and spirituality are a matter of individual personal choice.

How can we best encourage mature spirituality that helps young people thrive as they grow up in our midst? Is there even a common language by which we can talk of these matters in our globalised secular context?

This conference, a joint project of Christian Research Association, Tabor Victoria and Stirling Theological College will look at the research surrounding this issue and explore practical solutions for teachers, chaplains, pastors, leaders and parents.


Friday 19TH July 1.00pm– 10.00pm
Saturday 20th July 9.00 - 4:30 pm

Register: Click Here

Conference Format

Growing Young People’s Spirituality conference brings together key researchers, writers, thinkers and practitioners to explore this important issue. Conference delegates will have the chance to interact and respond to presenters through question and answer times, facilitated plenary discussions, discussion groups, and in-depth workshops.

Rev Dr Philip Hughes Keynote Address: Friday 2.00-3.00pm
Schools, Churches, Youth and Spirituality: What the Research Tells Us

Philip Hughes will be exploring the trends and the diversity within contemporary Australian culture and what this means for growing the spirituality of young people. Drawing both on conversations and on surveys, he will describe what is and is not working as schools and churches seek to grow the spirituality of young people.

Rev Dr Philip Hughes has been the senior research officer of the Christian Research Association since 1985 and has been involved in research regarding the spirituality of young people in schools, churches and the wider community for more than 10 years through conversations with young people and through surveys. The author of more than 60 books and hundreds of book chapters and articles, his major book on youth spirituality is Putting Life Together: Findings from Australian Youth Spirituality Research. However, since writing that book, Philip Hughes has up-dated that research through conversations with hundreds of young people in youth groups and surveys in more than 50 schools.

Philip Hughes is chair of the board of Kingswood College, a Uniting Church school, and is actively involved in developing 'education for a purposeful life'. He is an honorary research fellow at Edith Cowan University and at the MCD University of Divinity. He is ordained within the Uniting Church of Australia, is married to Hazel, and has two adult children.

Rowan Lewis Keynote Address: Friday 3.30-4.30pm
Faith development in perspective - Some things change, but some stay the same.

In the ever-shifting sea of Western culture and the resulting ferment of change in youth spirituality, is there anything that we can find that is consistent? Can we identify any underlying structures and processes of faith development that hold, even if the content and context we find ourselves in changes – and dramatically so? Drawing from a growing body of research describing adolescent development in historical context, Rowan will be exploring the various insights this research brings to the way we as faith and educational communities can radically encourage or inhibit the development of identity, meaning, morality, spirituality – in short, the faith – of a young person.

Rowan Lewis is an educator, youth worker, writer and speaker who remains deeply committed to the tradition of spiritual formation in young people. As the lecturer for Youth studies at Tabor College Victoria, he perceives one of our great challenges is the genuine nurturing of personal faith throughout the intrepid and irreverent years of late-adolescence and emerging adulthood – a research focus Rowan is continuing to develop through his PhD studies. Together with his wife Kirra, Rowan lives in Melbourne with three energetic young children who keep life suitably animated.

Naomi Swindon Dinner Keynote Presentation: Friday 7pm

For many young people today, the language of religion and spirituality has little meaning. Yet, their spirituality can be seen in their search for meaning and belonging. Naomi will illustrate the spirituality of young Australians as they express their longings for life and the world.

Naomi has been in youth work for over 30 years and on staff with SUVic for over 20, in a variety of roles including youth specialist, missions coordinator and currently in schools work (as well as being seconded to various training roles, such as Forge).

Her greatest thrill is seeing disconnection and disaffection turned on its head as young people discover their worth, their gifts and capacities,.. and a sense of purpose to life. Jesus is the key. She has more patience with teens than with herself, the Church and consumer culture. Meeting and working with people of all ages who are set to bless their community is an antidote to exhaustion, discouragement and cynicism and an absolute privilege.

The red hair may be henna, but the fiery passion and ear-splitting laugh is not far under the surface. Expect to hear it like it is

Dr Rachael Kohn Plenary Chair: Saturday 9.00am-12.45pm
Perspectives for Growing Youth and Spirituality & Responses to Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
National Perspectives on Spirituality

Dr Rachael Kohn will describe the state of spirituality nationally drawing on her many interviews with practitioners and authors from around Australia. She will place this in the context of some of the influences from overseas.

Dr Rachael Kohn was born in Canada. She taught Religious Studies in England then in Sydney and in 1992 joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Since 1992, she has produced and presented programs on religion and spirituality for a variety of programs on ABC Radio National and ABC TV. Since 1997, she has produced 'The Spirit of Things' which is heard across Australia each Sunday at 6 pm. She has published two books: The New Believers: Re-imagining God and Curious Obsessions in the History of Science and Spirituality. In 2005, Rachael Kohn was awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of New South Wales for 'services to the community ... fostering religious understanding'.

Dr Kath Engebretson Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 9.00am-10.45pm
Perspectives for Growing Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Spirituality and Curriculum

In her session and workshop, Dr Kath Engebretson will talk about some of the phenomena that have led to young Catholics developing an eclectic spirituality strongly focused on the self, family and friends and away from traditional beliefs, rituals and Church community. There are many implications of this for the Church and for those who teach religion in Catholic schools and I will focus on these in the longer workshop

Dr Kath Engebretson is a lecturer, researcher, writer and doctoral supervisor in the School of Religious Education at Australian Catholic University. Her current research interests are inter-faith education, the role of the Catholic school in relation to the local Church community, professional standards for teachers of religious education, and freedom of religion in relation to religiously affiliated schools. She have been published both nationally and internationally, and along with colleagues from Australian Catholic University and overseas is one of the editors of the International Handbook on the Religious Spiritual and Moral Dimensions of Education as well as the International Handbook of Inter-Religious Education. Her three most recent books are: In Your Shoes: Inter-Faith Education for Australian Religious Educators (2009); Cornerstones of Catholic Secondary Religious Education. Principles and Practice of the New Evangelization (2008, with Marian De Souza, Michael Buchanan and Richard Rymarz), and Connecting: teenage boys, spirituality and religious education (2007). She is currently working on a new book called Catholic Schools and the Future of the Church.

Stephen Chatelier Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 9.00am-10.45pm
Perspectives for Growing Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Problems and Possibilities for Growing Youth Spirituality in Christian Schools

Stephen Chatelier will talk about the problems and possibilities of growing youth spirituality in the Christian Schools context. He will do this within the context of a perceived shift amongst some Christian schools and systems from more cognitive approaches to faith and spirituality towards those engaged with imagination and practices.

Stephen's working life has focused on young people. A trained secondary school teacher, he has taught in Queensland, Kazakhstan and Victoria. Most recently, Stephen was the Director of Christian Foundations at Donvale Christian College where he was responsible for Christian perspectives in the curriculum, as well as the faith culture of the college. He now shares the role of Manager at Kew Student Residence with his wife, Anouchka, and is a full-time PhD student in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Peter Mangold Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 9.00am-10.45pm
Perspectives for Growing Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Spirituality and Chaplaincy

Peter Mangold's focus will be on the well-being role that chaplains play in government schools and the distinctive contribution that chaplains can make in helping young people 'make sense' of their experiences, which is critical to healthy identity development.

Peter Mangold's background includes being an experienced teacher and registered psychologist. He has worked as a government school chaplain for 15 years. His particular area of research interest has been the role of "meaning-making" in adolescent identity development

Karen Dymke Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 11:15-12.45pm
Responses to Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Nurturing Youth Spirituality through Rites of Passage

Young people moving into adult hood look for rites of passage to confirm their 'growing up.' Alcoholic binges, heightened sexualization and risk taking behaviors have replaced traditional conventions at an alarming rate. In this workshop we will explore intentionally created new rites of passage, and rediscover some old ones. This journey aims to nurture young peoples awareness of 'something other ' and explore their spiritual selves whilst also engaging in healthy and life affirming rites of passage

Karen Dymke is passionate about meeting young people where they are at in their learning. She has a Masters in Applied Learning with her final thesis exploring the notion of spiritual intelligence. Karen currently works as an instructional coach after being the Director of Learning at Luther College for the previous 5 years. In that time one of her major projects was to develop an integrated program for year 9 students called 'the Rite Journey' . Karen's educational experience has primarily been as a consultant in teacher education and curriculum projects across TAFE, community education and schools. She continues to learn.

Rohan Waters Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 11:15-12.45pm
Responses to Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Nurturing Spirituality... but can we say 'Jesus'?

'Spirituality' is identified in the Goals of Australian Education as a priority for schools, but how do we achieve that in our multi-faith, plural society? Even more so, how do we do this in a government secular-school context? This workshop will explore the idea of 'Spiritual Formation as the Core of Education', discussing some of the challenges that must be addressed for this educational priority to be achieved.

Rohan Waters is a qualified teacher and an ordained Churches of Christ Minister. He has over 20 years experience in Youth Ministry settings including local-church youth ministry, denominational and cross-denominationa leadership and high-school chaplaincy. In 2010 Rohan was awarded a 'Farmington Fellowship' to study at Oxford University and since returning has focussed on his work with Veta Youth developing a year 7-12 Christian learning pathway for students in Australian secondary schools. He enjoys life with his wife Cindy and three kids in Mt Martha, Vic.

Angela Sawyer Plenary Panel Member: Saturday 11:15-12.45pm
Responses to Youth and Spirituality
Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Nurturing Spirituality through Scripture

Angela Sawyer will discuss the impact of the increasing of Biblical illiteracy in Australian society, particularly among the younger generation, on Christian spiritual growth and the wider society. She will consider what the Scripture offers for nurturing spirituality individually, in community and the wider society, and how the Bible can be more than a self-help book for nurturing a young person's spirituality. In the workshop she will explore some practical approaches to building a culture of engagement with Scripture and discuss some of the challenges young people is express in relating to engagement with the Bible.

Angela Sawyer is a Bible Engagement specialist for the Victorian Council of Christian Education (VCCE), working with churches and Christian organisations around the issue of Biblical literacy. She teaches in the area of Biblical Studies. She is writing a PhD thesis on exile, Isaiah 40-55 and post-church Australians. Angela is married to Jay and has two children.

Stephen Reid Workshop: Saturday 1:45-2.45pm
Nurturing Spirituality through Scripture

Stephen Reid will explore his recent research on sports chaplaincy which has involved interviews with chaplains, club officials and club participants. While noting the importance of sport in the spirituality of young Australians, he will explore how chaplaincy in the sporting context can contribute to the growth of spirituality.

Stephen Reid has worked part-time with the Christian Research Association since 2007. His academic background is in Theology and Applied Social Research. Stephen also works part-time for the Pastoral Research Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and is an Honorary Fellow of Australian Catholic University. Stephen is married to Jane, with whom he has three young children. He enjoys most sports, particularly distance running and athletics.

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July 19th, 2013 1:00 PM   through   July 20th, 2013 5:00 PM
44-60 Jacksons Road
Mulgrave, VIC 3170
Phone: 97909200

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