It has been an extremely insightful day two of the conference, with two fantastic keynote presentations from David Tacey and Re. Bill Gaventa this morning and Dr. Lorna Hallahan this afternoon.
A number of elective sessions took place this morning with more to follow this afternoon. The atmosphere has been lively and there is a deep sense that people are keen to learn and embrace everything being discussed.
Shelley Knoll-Miller has created a number of new pieces throughout the presentations- all of which lighten the mood yet cause us to reflect more deeply about the discussions being had.
David Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at La Trobe University Melbourne and spoke passionately about the current state of religion in Australia. He highlighted that there is lot of private searching within Australia with many keeping their spirituality private. He describes the Australian culture as risk averse with a significant increase in the number of people being ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’.
Recent statistics indicate that only 7-8 per cent of people attend places of worship on a regular basis, although 70 per cent are open to a spiritual experience or believe in a god or higher power. Tacey highlighted the increase in depression and anxiety with 25 per cent of the population likely to develop this at some point in their life.
Rev. Bill Gaventa opened his presentation by discussing inclusion and exclusion. He went on to discuss how most people’s church experiences are either ‘always great’ or ‘really bad’ – there was rarely a ‘lukewarm’. Gaventa described the importance of focusing on gifts and assets and the ‘uniqueness’ of every person when discussing inclusion.
Gaventa wants people to start connecting through common interest regardless of ability or disability by asking the question “how do we do it with anybody else?”