Thursday, 31 December 2015

Transforming Service Conference 2016


April 14-16 2016 - Brisbane


This is an invitation to educators involved in leading or organising service learning activities in Australian schools. The Transforming Service Conference will bring together Service Learning Professional from all over Australia to share a national picture of service learning activities and to.work together on advancing the understanding of service learning and the foundations which underpin service encounters.

The Transforming Service Conference is an ecumenical initiative that recognises the rich variety of approaches to service across Australian faith-based school. The conference will focus particularly on secondary schools but recognises that many schools adopt a whole-of school approach to service learning. International; and cross-cultural service encounters will be a focus of discussion, alongside local endeavours.

Registrations are open now!
Venue: Australian Catholic University Leadership Centre, Elizabeth St, Brisbane

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Being a God noticer


Where can we encounter God in our daily life? I love this little video of theologian Paula Gooder talking about being a 'God noticer'. There are lots of great little videos like this on the Bible Society's Youtube channel Lyfe.



Thursday, 17 December 2015

Exploring mission and ministry in Anglican Schools



This website aplaceformission.org (which I edit) has a focus on mission and ministry in Anglican Schools. There are articles from people from around Australia as well as profiles of innovation in school ministry.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Mission Australia 2015 Youth Survey


Australia's largest annual 'temperature check' of teenagers has just been released. The Mission Australia Youth Survey contains much interesting and useful information about what is happening in the lives of young Australians.

The survey is open to all Australians aged between 15 and 19 and thousands of teenagers from cities, towns and rural and remote areas take part.

Some of the highlights identified by Mission Australia are:
  • Alcohol and drugs were found to be an increasing concern. 
  • Just over one in ten respondents indicated that they saw family responsibilities and physical or mental health as barriers to achieving their study/work goals.
  • Young people continue to report that coping with stress and school/study problems are top issues of concern

I am always interested to see what young people say they value, what relationships are most important and what their issues of personal concern are.

This year there is also an infographics page.




What stands out for you in the Mission Australia Survey?

Check out the full survey here.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Partnerships aren't built on pity


This video and the accompanying webpage from Bond University is challenging the pity approach that is often used in engaging with people in developing nations.

What messages does your school communicate to students about developing nations and the people that live within in? Even the idea of service trips communicates a particular idea about the capabilities of people overseas.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Just Pray



You are probably aware of the controversy in Britain at the moment about the cinema company that banned the video advert below on the grounds it might offend people. Much has been written about this decision. There is some thought that whether the Lord's Prayer will offend or not probably most people under thirty won't understand it. I wonder does praying a prayer without fully understanding it still make a difference the person praying? How might the act of prayer as a practice shape who we are as people. The video is beautiful and great for chapel. You might also want to check out /www.justpray.uk/


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Christmas Poem


This little nativity video, produced by the Bible Society, is for the very young students.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Man in the Moon


I realise this video isn't overtly Christian in its Christian message but I thought it was really nice...even though it is for an ad insurance company.



This company, John Lewis, does a Christmas commercial every year. Some are really quite beautiful.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Nativity in Sand


Here are  the first Nativity videos for the year. A lot of these sand videos have circulated on the internet.This one was put up by the Bible Society.


This one is also very nice:


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Transforming Service Conference


April 14-16 2016 - Brisbane


This is an invitation to educators involved in leading or organising service learning activities in Australian schools. The Transforming Service Conference will bring together Service Learning Professional from all over Australia to share a national picture of service learning activities and to.work together on advancing the understanding of service learning and the foundations which underpin service encounters.

The Transforming Service Conference is an ecumenical initiative that recognises the rich variety of approaches to service across Australian faith-based school. The conference will focus particularly on secondary schools but recognises that many schools adopt a whole-of school approach to service learning. International; and cross-cultural service encounters will be a focus of discussion, alongside local endeavours.

Registrations are open now!
Venue: Australian Catholic University Leadership Centre, Elizabeth St, Brisbane

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Character Education the Focus of Flourishing


"There is no such thing as a neutral education" declares the opening words of a just released discussion paper by the Church of England on character education. 

The direction and thinking in this report come at an important time where in many places education authorities seem to have lost their vision for educating whole people. I would say this is also true of wider Australian society that narrows schooling down to getting the best marks to get the best job. In some faith based schools this has led to a reduction in the religious aspects of student education in order to focus more time and energy on 'academics' to improve 'standards'. This sends a clear message to those being educated:this is what really matters.

No doubt Anglican education should seek excellence in intellectual pursuits but it must be balanced with engagement in other activities of the sporting, cultural, serving and spiritual kinds.

Some of the questions peppered through this report are wonderfully probing and revealing:

If you look at the decisions that are made on a daily basis in your school, what implicit assumptions are being made about what is important, about the human condition, about what is worth knowing?
 What kind of person do you aspire to be? What kind of world do you aspire to create? How does this affect the way that you teach or lead your school?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Is religion more than a veneer in faith based schools?


This Eureka Street article is well worth a read. The author Andrew Hamilton contends that the prevailing culture of society, along with and emphasis on individual autonomy means religious schools are finding it hard to embody their traditions. 

He says:

"Where this erosion of the place of tradition is not resisted, the operative goals of schools then become the academic and economic advancement of individuals. Religious classes and rituals become a decoration, a rhetorical branding."

"As a result of these pressures on both state and faith-based schools, we might expect that the difference between those faith-based schools in which their inherited tradition shapes the life of the school and those in which adherence to the tradition is largely rhetorical and not operative will be more marked."'

He thinks that those schools with strong faith traditions will appeal to small minority who want this.

My hope would be that Anglican Schools do not become focussed on just serving a Christian minority nor just focus on academic and economic advancement but find a way to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not heard in a way that engages them in the midst of their desire for other things. This will not be an easy task and will require great imagination and a solid grounding in Christian missiology.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Anglican Schools Praying for Refugees


"Students from Anglican schools throughout the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia have prayed through the night as part of a 24-hour vigil for the refugees streaming out from Syria across Europe, and into camps in Jordan and Lebanon"

It is well worth reading this report in the Anglican Communion News Service of an initiative amongst Anglican Schools to pray for refugees.

I have had the opportunity to look at what occurred on the ASPiRe Facebook Page and it is very inspirational. The creativity and commitment of the students, chaplains and staff is great stuff. This is a wonderful example of the social concern and compassion of the students meeting Christian action through prayer.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A cautionary tale: helping without hurting



This great little video explores some of the issues with doing short term service work. School are certainly not immune from doing some of these types of things.



The Transforming Service Conference 2016 will explore these and other issues.





Thursday, 8 October 2015

Just because it isn't happening here...


This confronting video from Save the Children in the UK puts aspects of the Syria refugee crisis in perspective. This is certainly not  video you would use with all age groups.The ending words, 'Just because it isn't happening here doesn't mean it isn't happening' are powerful and thought provoking.




Thursday, 1 October 2015

Spirituality: In search of a metaphor


Is spirituality a concept you have tried to explore with students?

Ten or so years ago many religious educators were excited by the word spirituality. They perceived an opportunity when students said:  I am spiritual but not religious.

I wonder if the students we have in front of us today would say: I am spiritual but not religious.

My hunch is that even the word spirituality is a bit suspect in the minds of students today. I think there are many reasons for this, including, its overuse by ‘religious’ people and the pervasive materialism of our society as mediated through consumerism and new atheism.

Spirituality is a concept – like God – that we need to crack open with our students. It is a hard word to pin down and it is easier to talk around it and describe some of its territory than it is to define. In fact I would encourage teachers not to try to define it too hastily or narrowly, if at all.

A whole unit of work could be built around cracking open the concept, exploring it and describing some of its territory.

One way of doing this would be to explore it through the use of metaphors. Human exploration of spirituality (like most intangible things) is built on a foundation of metaphors.

Some examples that come to my mind include:
  • A journey
  • A garden
  • Coming home
  • Rebirth
  • Unfolding (seed to fruit)
  • The coming of light
  • Growth
 What others can you think of?

Here are three of my favourites:

  • A hunger
Many people experience something they describe as a hunger. This hunger isn’t filled by physical food and experiential things like shopping, power, money don’t seem to work either.
  • A question
G Stanley Hall – a pioneering American psychologist who coined the term adolescence said there were three questions that young people sought to answer:

Who am I?
Who do I belong to?
What do I do?

To me these are the questions of spirituality. They are the questions we want to answer on a deep existential level and continue to answer through our whole lives.
  • A GPS (Global Positioning System)
GPS devices need an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites to work. Just like GPS our spirituality helps us to understand where we are in the world through our relationships with others, with ourselves, with God and with the environment.

Exploring with Students
What would your students say spirituality is?
How might they respond to some of these different metaphors?

One way of exploring these metaphors would be through quotes. Students could be provided with many quotes and discussion or activity could be based around explaining or exploring what each of them is trying to say. This could include creative mediums such as art.

It would also be of value to explore with students why the sense of the spiritual is so pervasive in human culture and experience.

Here are some examples of suitable quotes:

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. ~ Buddha

Our scientific power has out run our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical.~Julius Erving

The goal of spiritual practice is full recovery, and the only thing you need to recover from is a fractured sense of self.~Marianne Williamson

I don't have any real spirituality in my life - I'm kind of an atheist - but when music can take me to the highest heights, it's almost like a spiritual feeling. It fills that void for me.~Jack Black

Stories

Another way to explore these metaphors would be through the use of stories. There are many stories in many traditions that use a variety of images for spirituality. The Bible contains many and Jesus was a master at using stories to explore spiritual truths.

Student could write their own story based around one of the metaphors or a quote associated with it.

Here is one I prepared earlier:

There is a spiritual hunger in the world today, and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms. Adlai E. Stevenson

Spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst But you got to change it on the inside first,
to be satisfied. Van Morrison

I am the bread of Life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. Jesus of Nazareth

There was once a young boy named Ninugo.
He lived in a village high up in the mountains.

One day Ninugo’s father had to go on a long journey and he left in such a hurry that had no time to say goodbye. Ninugo missed him very much. Soon after, Ninugo became very hungry. In his village there was lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and Ninugo’s mother always fed him the very best that she could find, but she soon discovered that she could not satisfy his hunger. She would feed him morning noon and night but Ninugo was still hungry. She talked to the other mothers in the village. What can I give my son, he is always hungry, he never stops eating. They had lots of advice for her. 'Feed him potatoes and meat, three times a day, that will satisfy his hunger'. And so that is what she did. But Ninugo was still hungry. 'Feed him on pickled fish with eels eggs that will satisfy his hunger' they said. And so that is what she did. But Ninugo was still hungry. 'Make him eat rancid butter and milk with chunks in it' they said. And so that is what she did. Ninugo left home and went and lived with his uncle. He said to Ninugo, 'eat whatever you want, eat whatever you desire, that will satisfy your hunger'. And this is what Ninugo did, he ate fairy floss, and lollies, liquorice and bubble gum, soft drink and chips. Ninugo ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate, anything he could get his hands upon he ate. But Ninugo was still hungry.

[The story could be stopped at this point and students could be asked to finish it - below is the ending I use when I tell it]

One day a friend of Ninugo’s said to him after he had demolished a truckload of sugar coated peanuts. 'Ninugo you are always hungry, but where does your hunger come from. Surely your stomach doesn't want more after you have eaten all that'. Ninugo looked down at his feet. He was confused. He said to his friend, 'I am worried. I think I have grown another stomach. Even after my belly is full to bursting, I still feel hungry in here', he said, 'pointing to his chest.'

'That is not your stomach that is empty', said the friend, 'that is your spirit'. Ninugo looked at his friend, a glow in his eyes. 'Then where can I get food that will satisfy my spirit'.

In an upcoming post I will consider exploring the intersection between religion and spirituality. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

"Spirituality" - Weasel word or glittering generality


I love the word "spirituality". I am also kind of uncomfortable with it.

I am uncomfortable for two reasons. Firstly I feel like it is the word I use to talk about religious and faith stuff in a way that is palatable to people who don't really like religion (the r word). I don't feel guilty about this, after all I am just trying to keep lines of communication open. But when this is combined with my second reason for feeling uncomfortable, I have some questions. 

My second  discomfort has to do with defining spirituality. Spirituality is one of those words that can mean a lot of stuff. It is a warm word that people have some vague positive feelings about (or do they?). We often talk about and around its territory but rarely do we tie it down. Even when we do, we tie it to more fuzzy or unclear concepts. One popular way of describing it, is to say it is about the relationships we have with God, others, our self and creation. But what about these relationships? How we feel about them?  How important they are? What we think about them? I guess the answer would be yes! 

A list of things covered by a definition of spirituality might include:
  • Beliefs and ideas about existential questions – including purpose of life, human identity
  • Self-view /personal identity/self-knowledge
  • Inner feelings
  • Feelings of awe, wonder, mystery, transcendence
  • Relationships/community
  • Creativity – imagination, inspiration, intuition, insight etc.
  • Personal values
  • Understanding of self, society – a sense of self awareness.

I love all of these things. I think they are important. I think we should explore them with young people. But are they the sum of spirituality?

Let me change tack here. What if by using the word spirituality we are not communicating what we think we are? Ten or more years ago everyone in my 'religious' world seemed pretty excited by the idea that people said: I am spiritual but not religious. This seemed ok with us. We didn't want to be 'religious' either (depending on how you define the word) and we thought we had a lot of stuff about spirituality to share. But what if "I am spiritual but not religious" actually meant "I want to find my own path, please go away person with religious agenda". Could people representing organised religion using the word spirituality a lot change the meaning of the word or how people feel about it? 

In 2010 (and for eight years prior)  the Mission Australia Youth Survey had a question asking young people to rank what they valued from a list of ten things. They were: family relationships, friendships, physical and mental health, school or study satisfaction, being independent, feeling needed and valued, getting a job, spirituality/faith, financial security, making a difference in the community.

The data (which apparently was pretty consistent for nine years) was aggregated and included items ranked one, two or three by respondents.

Only 13.6% of young people in 2010 had spirituality/faith in the top three positions. Below it were financial security at 13.5% and making a difference in the community at 6.2%. Getting a job was above it at 16%.


I am sure there are lots of ways to look at this data but it certainly didn't seem to indicate that young people valued spirituality. Or did it? What if they just don't like the word? Or know what it means? 

I  do think spirituality is an inherent part of human beings. While I don't think we will ever define it well, I do think we need to think about how we engage young people with what spirituality is about. Using spirituality effectively as a 'weasel word' or 'glittering generality' may have a limited life. I don't think there is any research on this...so can you do some for me?

Ask the young people around you what they think about the word spirituality? Is it a positive word? Do they like it or not? Ask them if they are spiritual? And what this means?

What do you think they will say?

Friday, 25 September 2015

Liturgy Resources



Have a look at liturgy.co.nz as a source for a variety of worship resources. This ecumenical site has resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters. 

There is a large section with resources for the seasons of the church year which would be worth investigating.



Thursday, 24 September 2015

What is your song?


How do school communities explore the concept of vocation with young people?

How do we help students to think about what their purpose in life is and what they might be called to do?

I think these are counter cultural questions. The dominant idea many schools want to promote is that you can be whatever you want. While part of me likes this way of thinking it also troubles me deeply. Maybe we can be what we want, but will becoming that thing fulfil us and be true to who we are? We should encourage young people to be all they can be, but this needs to be grounded in self knowledge and self awareness. 

Recently on Facebook the story below has been going around. I like the message underlying it. The song is representative of who we are in the world and what we are called to do. I like the idea of our identity having deep roots in a community that helps us to understand who we are and remind us when we forget. I think this kind of community might value all kinds of work and all kinds of vocation and all kinds of being in the world. Not just those that earn a lot of money or fame or prestige.

I think this is what Christian community should be about. Helping us to hear the song that God has placed in our heart, that God sings to us as our calling.

I wonder how we can help young people hear their song?


When a woman of the Himba African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes to the jungle with other women, and together they pray and meditate until they find The Song of the Child. When a child is born, the community gets together and they sing the child’s song. When the child begins it’s education, people get together and the child sings their own song. When they become an adult, the community gets together again to sing it. When it comes to your wedding, you hear your song. Finally, when their soul is going from this world, family and friends are approaching and, like at their birth, sing their song to accompany it in the journey.

In the Himba tribe, there is another occasion when people sing the song. If at some point the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, they take the offender to the center of town and the people of the community form a circle around them. Then they sing you your song. The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, but is the love and memory of your true identity. When we recognize our own song, we have no desire or need to hurt anyone.

Your friends know your song. And sing when you forget it. Those who love you can not be fooled by mistakes you have committed, or dark images you show to others. They remember your beauty as you feel ugly, your total when you’re broke, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when you’re confused.


Attributed to: Tolba Phanem, African poet

This story is also told in the book "What is my song" by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Transforming Service Conference 2016


April 14-16 2016 - Brisbane


This is an invitation to educators involved in leading or organising service learning activities in Australian schools. The Transforming Service Conference will bring together Service Learning Professional from all over Australia to share a national picture of service learning activities and to.work together on advancing the understanding of service learning and the foundations which underpin service encounters.

The Transforming Service Conference is an ecumenical initiative that recognises the rich variety of approaches to service across Australian faith-based school. The conference will focus particularly on secondary schools but recognises that many schools adopt a whole-of school approach to service learning. International; and cross-cultural service encounters will be a focus of discussion, alongside local endeavours.

Registrations Open Term 4 2015
Venue: Australian Catholic University Leadership Centre, Elizabeth St, Brisbane

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

God's Story Videos


Cross Road's Kids Club has a bunch of these little videos on different parts of the Bible. The animation is simple but effective and the script is read by a young voice in easily understood language. Some may not like the theology expressed at the end of the videos but the story parts of each video could be used without this. These videos are most suitable for a younger primary school audience.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Youth Culture Report


"The Youth Culture Report is a daily website news organization delivering news on youth culture seven days a week...TYCR daily provides you with a snap shot of of today’s youth culture so that you can be equipped to understand youth and make bridges for the advancement of the Gospel."

This looks like a valuable little site with lots of news and articles about young people. As with all sites of this nature (including my blog) it is curated in a particular way and so will take a particular direction. Take what you can use, adapt what you can and forget the rest...or be challenged by it.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Chaplaincy: A vital ministry


John Caperon who was Director of the Bloxham Project in England recently published A Vital Ministry: Chaplaincy in Schools in the Post-Christian Era. I have only just bought it and haven't read it yet. The work in this book comes out of what was done in the Bloxham Project. So what is the Bloxham Project? I think it finished in 2011 but this is what its purpose was:

“The Bloxham Project exists to promote and support the spiritual dimension in education.  Linking school leaders, chaplains, those with pastoral responsibility and subject teachers, the Project works to foster spirituality in schools and to bring to educational practice spiritual insight into the growth and needs of the whole person.   Firmly rooted in the Christian faith, while open to other traditions, the Project offers support for chaplains, school leaders and others engaged in education."

In 2011 the Bloxham Project  completed a major piece of research into school chaplaincy, in collaboration with the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (OxCEPT), the research unit of Ripon College Cuddesdon.

The results of that research can be read here. This might give you some insight into the book.

Some key findings of the report included an outline of the key features of chaplaincy:

  • School chaplains have a specific vocation to work with the young within the extended community of the school: both children, staff, parents and governors – and the community within which the school is set – comprise their ‘parish’.
  • Their work is missional and inclusive: it is a service offered to all by the Church in a context where personal faith commitment may be minimal; it is prime mission in a liminal or frontier context.
  • School chaplains place the pastoral dimension of their vocation as its heart: it is a ministry involving a range of functions, but pastoral care for the person is what matters most.
  • In whatever form and style are appropriate to the context of the school and its pupils, liturgical leadership is treasured by school chaplains as an opportunity to create the conditions in which the presence of God may be experienced.
  • Beyond and through all their ministerial functions, school chaplains exercise a ministry of presence, representing and embodying the Christian faith.


 The research also has chaplains rate the importance of their different functions: 

  • Pastoral: caring for the whole community
  • Spiritual: leading the spiritual life of the community
  • Liturgical: leading prayer and worship
  • Missional: commending the Christian faith and supporting other faiths
  • Prophetic: ‘speaking truth to power'
  • Pedagogic: teaching about the Faith, and catechesis.



Thursday, 20 August 2015

Anglican Schools Australia Conference 2015


Did you attend the 2015 ASA Conference? Either way you can check out some of the content presented at the Conference right here. There was some fantastic content from Sarah Bachelard, Rufus Black, Dan Haeslar and Gillian Moses. I also made my own contribution during the Chaplains Day and as a Keynote.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Life Vest Inside


Life Vest Inside has some great videos on "the science of"... Check these out:




Friday, 31 July 2015

Prayer Spaces in Schools


This little video is an interview with Susan Crothers-Robertson about her experience of Prayer Spaces in Schools.You can read more about it here and here.

You can also check out the official Prayer Spaces in Schools Website.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

What is the impact of schools with a Christian ethos?


This review of the current research evidence on the impact of schools with a Christian ethos published by Theos is well worth a read. There are lots of interesting insights, but in summary they conclude that the existing research doesn't give a clear answer about impact, in part because of the variety of approaches taken. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

How do Australian kids feel about refugees?


This is a fantastic site with Australian children answering questions about refugees. Australian refugee children also share their responses. There are about nine short videos. Check them out at:





Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sometimes quiet is violent


Recently my teenage daughter introduced me to the music of Twenty One Pilots. This included attending a concert (I felt old...but it was 'all age' so there were other old feeling people there too). I confess to now liking their music. I think my daughter is ambivalent about this development. To cut a long story short the music of Twenty One Pilots may be suitable for chapel or other spaces where you want to get students thinking.

Their music will not be to everyone's taste, but then who's is these days. Both the guys are Christian but their music doesn't fall into the genre of Christian music...whatever that is exactly. They say they write music to make people think and their lyrics are certainly thought provoking.

HeavyDirtySoul is one of my favourites...the line 'Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit' is a sermon in itself. The chorus is: Can you save my HeavyDirtySoul?

Here are two songs that fascinate me and could be useful.

The first is called Car Radio. The song is about how the radio has been stolen out of the singers car and now he has to deal with the silence and noise of his mind. This is where the line 'sometimes quiet is violent' comes from.



The second song is Stressed Out and is about life pressure and desire to be a child again.. Lead singer Tyler has an alter ego called Blurry Face. This is the overly self conscious part of him which causes him to feel choked, hence the black paint on the hands and neck.


Friday, 10 July 2015

ABM 2015 School's Project: Gender Equality and Empowerment



ABM have released the 2015 School’s Project as a real-world example highlighting the importance of Gender Equality in a Zambian context.

I echo the words of Greg Henderson one of ABM's education missioners:

"I commend this project to you and encourage you to engage your students in thinking deeper about what Sustainable Development looks like in Zambia, especially for women in terms of education, gender equality and employment."

The video below tells the story of what ABM’s Partner, the Anglican Church in Zambia, is doing to empower women in Zambia and the transformation that happens when Projects like this are supported.



  

Monday, 6 July 2015

Environmental Liturgy


As a follow up to Schools Tree Day and the idea of having an environmental focus for chapel, have a look at the resources available on the Anglican Diocese of Perth website. These might provide some useful inspiration.

I particularly like this prayer:

Creator God,
you formed us from the dust of the earth,
and reveal your fingerprints in all flesh.
Teach us your deep wisdom
in the order and beauty of all that you have made.
When our care for your creation is found wanting,
reprove and reform us,
so that our footprints may be more gentle on the earth,
tending and keeping it as your own handiwork,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

© Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation. Used by permission This text may be reproduced for use in worship in the Anglican Church of Australia

Friday, 3 July 2015

Thank God for the gift of trees: Schools Tree Day


"Each year, around 3,000 preschools, kindies, primary and high schools across Australia take part in Schools Tree Day. Students nation-wide have learnt how to plant, and care for the seedlings they grow. Schools Tree Day 2015 will be on Friday July 24th, although events can be held at any time during the year."


"Schools Tree Day can mark the beginning of a long-term environmental program, engaging your students in a fun, hands on activity that can reinforce their environmental, maths, science and creative arts learning or simply contribute to creating beautiful school grounds."


There are lots of resources of the Planet Ark website for schools to use on this day.


It would be wonderful to have a chapel focussing on the environment on Schools Tree Day or special prayers during pastoral care time. Here is a prayer you could use or adapt.

Creator God,
Out of chaos you brought order.
Out of nothingness you brought life.
In the middle of all life stands the tree.

Trees provide the air that nurtures all your creation.
Birds make them their homes.
Cats climb them for protection.
Trees recycle life that has come before.

Bless the trees of this word, loving God.
Remind us to serve as their caregivers and protectors.
Give them long limbs and long life.
The gift of their breath is as special to us as the breath of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.



Thursday, 18 June 2015

Faith Debates


Westminster Faith Debates is a great website if you are looking for some stimulating thought on religion in the United Kingdom.

Of particular interest is the pamphlet: A new settlement for religion and belief in schools

Although the system in the UK is quite different to here in Australia there are some interesting ideas and arguments in this document.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Break your brain and see differently


This is an amazing little video that explores the idea of how deeply our biases and ways of seeing are embedded in our brains. Sometimes it doesn't matter what we know, something deeper is shaping the way we act. This video would be a useful way of exploring all kinds of questions, such as: Are we really in control? How much do our habits shape our thinking and acting?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Being a God noticer


Where can we encounter God in our daily life? I love this little video of theologian Paula Gooder talking about being a 'God noticer'. There are lots of great little videos like this on the Bible Society's Youtube channel Lyfe.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

National Reconciliation Week 2015


"It's time to change it up" is the theme for this year's National Reconciliation Week (27 May - 3 June)

There are all kinds of resources at Reconciliation Australia

Check out ABM's resources which include some for prayer and worship.

“ABM believes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have a special place in this country as their ancestry goes back thousands of years. Many Indigenous Christians believe that God was with them from long ago and they find meaning and hope in the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Habits of Heart


Heard of Habits of Mind? An Anglican chaplain on the Gold Coast has developed Habits of Heart. He created them because he realised that Habits of Mind provides no moral compass for evaluating actions.

Head on over to aplaceformission.org to find out more.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Spiritual people vulnerable to mental disorder


Recent research, published in the British Journal ofPsychiatry, found that "people who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder"

"Of the participants 35% had a religious understanding of life, 19% were spiritual but not religious and 46% were neither religious nor spiritual. Religious people were similar to those who were neither religious nor spiritual with regard to the prevalence of mental disorders"

Read the research here.