School chaplains have ‘some time to breathe’

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By Laura Lindsay, schools liaison

Uniting Church school chaplains from around the synod gathered in the tranquil surrounds of the Yarra Valley for their annual retreat in August. Hosted by the Commission for Mission’s schools liaison team, the retreat gave chaplains an opportunity for reflection and – as the official theme stated – ‘some time to breathe’.

The school’s liaison team collaborated with Julie Perrin, storyteller and director of Telling Words, to unravel the attendees’ thoughts and experiences on a day in the life of a school chaplain. The content we developed was aimed at giving the chaplains time out to consider the space in which they work and the many ‘hats’ that encompass their work at Uniting Church schools.

It was a peaceful time which freed the chaplains to reflect on their work as individuals and also to engage with one another as a broader network.

The group worship time was deeply moving. It was evident that bonds built in the years since the retreat was birthed have grown and deepened significantly in the process. It was wonderful to see a spirit of deep friendship over the two days and overhear conversations that cut to the heart of their important work.

A laughter yoga instructor took the group through a one-hour session. It was, quite literally, hilarious even if a bit challenging for the introverts in the group. It was also a great way to release stress and further offer the chaplains ‘some time to breathe’.

The facilitator requested her fee be donated to a charity chosen by the group, as a way of generating the cycle of positivity and goodwill. The chaplains chose to donate to a UnitingWorld program for prevention of child sex trafficking.

Given the positive feedback from the retreat this year and years past, planning is already underway for next year’s gathering. The schools liaison team is looking forward to growing the synod’s chaplaincy network – and the chaplains within it.

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