Chaplains from 15 Australian universities came together at the beginning of December for the 2017 National Chaplaincy Conference.
The conference, hosted at Federation University’s Churchill campus from 28 November to 1 December, was an opportunity for tertiary chaplains to receive professional development and support.
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Belief, Culture, Disruption’.
Delegates heard from keynote speakers on: ‘Clinical Pastoral Education’ (Jenny Wegener); ‘a ministry of presence in a multi-faith and no-faith society’ (Gary Bouma AM); and ‘it is God who disrupts us…how have we come to this Culture of Disruption?’ (Fr Greg Bourke).
A local senior lecturer spoke about ‘Being a Muslim in a Regional University’, and delegates also heard presentations on a variety of related subjects.
A particular highlight was the inter-faith worship presentations each morning before the business of the day.
The 2017 conference presented an opportunity for the chaplains to learn more about the town of Churchill and the Gippsland region.
Delegates joined in an excursion to Traralgon Uniting Church’s ‘faith and fabric’ exhibition on the second night.
The congregation displayed more than 40 banners, each expressing a different aspect of faith. Some of the talented artists were at the exhibition to explain their art.
The delegates travelled to Traralgon via Miners Lookout, where an informative talk was given about the coal and the general area.
A conference dinner at the university on the third night included a talk on ‘Walking in Galilee’. The presenter highlighted his trip to Galilee earlier this year – the 100th year since the ‘birth’ of the state of Israel (with the UK’s ‘Balfour Declaration’).
The last time a National Chaplaincy Conference was hosted in Churchill was in 2001.
Chaplaincy at the Churchill campus is funded by the local Anglican and Catholic dioceses, and the Uniting Church Presbytery of Gippsland (through a BOMAR grant).
This year’s conference marked the 30th anniversary of the TCMA (Tertiary Campus Ministry Association).
During the conference, the TCMA hosted their AGM. New members were elected and retiring chaplains were acknowledged.
Rev Frank Lees (Chaplain)