Seminar and conference to explore Christian religious communities in Australia

1 NOVEMBER 2021

Seminar and conference to explore Christian religious communities in Australia

The Charles Sturt University Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C) in Canberra will host a one-day online seminar on Saturday 6 November as a precursor to a rescheduled three-day ecumenical conference in March 2022.

  • An online seminar on Saturday 6 November precedes a major ecumenical conference in Canberra in March 2022 with both reflecting on the distinctive role played by religious communities during the first two centuries of Christianity in Australia

The Charles Sturt University Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C) in Canberra will host a one-day online seminar on Saturday 6 November as a precursor to a rescheduled three-day ecumenical conference in March 2022.

The one-day seminar ‘Living Memory: Learning from the Legacy of Australian Religious Communities’ foreshadows the COVID-19-postponed conference ‘Ancient Futures: the Renewal of Religious Life in the Australian Church’ now scheduled from Thursday 3 to Saturday 5 March 2022.

Executive Director of the ACC&C Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard said both the ‘Living Memory’ seminar and the ‘Ancient Futures’ conference will bring together representatives from a wide range of traditional, new and emerging communities across Australia.

“COVID-19 is causing a disruption to church as we know it and this seminar and the subsequent conference comes at an opportune moment for religious communities to provide insight into the way forward,” Professor Pickard said.

“What is the future for religious communities? Contrary to popular opinion the reality is that religion and the spiritual quest is growing.

“The other more obvious fact is that institutional affiliations are on the decline, at least in the West.

“How then will the religious instincts and desire for value and meaning take root and flourish?”

Professor Pickard said something new is called for that provides a genuine alternative to the crass economic paradigm of our society that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

“Historically it is new religious movements and the emergence of new communities of faith that have provided the spiritual sustenance for people and societies undergoing times of change and uncertainty,” he said.

“This is the backdrop for a conference hosted by the ACC&C in March next year in Canberra on the renewal of religious communities.

“We want to learn from the past (what worked, what didn’t), take stock of our present situation and, more importantly, orientate ourselves to the movement of the Spirit of God, which is always full of surprises and new possibilities.

“At precisely the point of greatest need, humans evidence a capacity to rediscover the deepest resources available for new ways of living faithfully.”

Professor Pickard said participants will reflect on the distinctive role played by religious communities during the first two centuries of Christianity in Australia.

The forum will assess the history of new communities in Australia over the past 50 years, their founding charisms, missions, relationships with church hierarchies and their sustainability over time.

“We will consider how God may be calling 21st century Australians to various forms of religious and community life, and what ecclesial conditions (for example, vision-casting, theology, resourcing, oversight, ecumenical collaboration) are now required to enable what the Holy Spirit is doing,” he said.

Register online for the ‘Living Memory’ seminar, which is from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Saturday 6 November. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, will give a special welcome to attendees.

Online registration for the March 2022 ecumenical conference is now open and you can find registration information on the conference website.

“We encourage people to register as soon as possible, in order to be guaranteed a place,” Professor Pickard said.

“If participants need accommodation during their stay in Canberra, it will be possible for some of those attending the conference to be hosted by local churches or religious communities.

“Please contact us if you would like to explore this possibility.”

If people have further questions, please contact the organisers via the conference website.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Rt. Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or news@csu.edu.au

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