Religious educators focus on innovation and guiding youth
Thirty-five Uniting Church chaplains and religious educators gathered at Knox Grammar School on August 7 to learn and share insights as they live out their ministry by guiding younger generations.
The Uniting Church schools Religious Educators and Chaplaincy day was organized by the UME Schools Relationship Governance Manager, Anne Empson and Knox Grammar’s Head of Wisdom Life Faith Studies and Social Justice, Helen Clarke.
“There was a wonderful atmosphere of trust and sharing and the Spirit was really present,” said Helen of the gathering.
The day consisted of revisiting the Basis of Union and discussing what it means to be schools in the Uniting Church. We shared the variety of ways that each of the schools lives out the ethos of the Church. This included presentations about the number of initiatives run by Uniting Earth and Uniting World.
Ravenswood Religious Education Coordinator, Catherine Leal, found the day engaging as it held promising initiatives for helping young people in their educational and faith journey.
“There is so much creativity, dedication and desire to share the transforming message of Jesus!
“May God continue to bless each one of us as we continue to work to equip the young people in our care to move into the world as tolerant, thinking and responsible adults,” said Catherine.
Rev Jon Humphries showed how Positive Education (PE), which underpins the wellbeing program at several schools, has strong links to Christian faith and theology. At the heart of PE is a desire to give students and teachers the tools to flourish. As Rev Humphries pointed out, flourishing and wellbeing is at the heart of the mission of Christ (John 10:10, John 5:1-15). PE focuses on what is and can be right with us as opposed to what might be challenging us.
Emma Parr from UME took us on a ‘Deep Talk’ journey and we shared how Godly Play can be used with teens and adults. We shared the different approaches and approach within each school’s Religious Education curriculum, timetabling and a wonderful time of sharing teaching tools, pedagogy and methodology.
Brian Sullivan demonstrated how Knox is using the Smiling Minds App to develop mindfulness and calmness in the boys and data on how this has led to changes into boys’ sense of well-being, and focus in class. They are learning to use this as a tool whenever they feel stressed or upset.
If the noise, conversations and laughter over lunch was any indication, the day was a great success- a time of sharing.
Participants represented Knox, Ravenswood, Wahroonga Prep, Pymble Ladies College, Newington College, MLC School and Kinross Wolaroi School at Orange.
The Conference will become an annual event and some are even contemplating a retreat for Religious Educators.
Anne Empson is the UME Schools Governance Manager.
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