Tuesday 27 October 2015

Powerful Words: The Key Role of Words in Care

The Powerful Words conference was held at New College on the 26th September. It was planned for chaplains and others interested in pastoral theology and care and was joint initiative of CASE and Anglicare. The conference was based very much on an understanding that Christian chaplaincy is a prayerful cross-cultural ministry that focuses on the needs of others. Chaplains meet people at times of special need, loss and vulnerability and offer a safe place to explore issues of meaning and belonging. The conference explored how faith, love and hope inform pastoral relationships. The various sessions of the conference were recorded and are now available from the New College website free of charge HERE. Simply click on the 'podcasts' on the page and it will take you to the conference sessions.

The day was structured around three key strands, five speakers and a group of volunteers who participated in a powerful verbatim based on the book of Job.

1. Keynote Address - 'Our Days and God’s Years: Pastoral Care in Times of Change'

Dr Rhys Bezzant from Ridley College in Melbourne opened the conference by expounding Psalm 102 and drawing implications for pastoral care. He argued that the fleeting days of human life are set in the context of God’s timing and his power to make a difference. He offered a reflection on the importance of individual care in the course of Christian history, and applied this by considering how to value our opportunities to serve our neighbour in pastoral settings.

2. Seminar Information

Seminar 1 - 'A Captive Audience - Christian Ministry to people in prison' 

This first seminar was delivered by David Pettett who is the Head of Chaplaincy at Anglicare Sydney, managing the Sydney Diocesan chaplaincies in prisons and hospitals. David reflected on his experience and the challenges of providing care in a number prisons.

Seminar 2 - 'Chaplaincy at the Crossroads'

Peter Ellem works in chaplaincy at Westmead Hospital and presented the second seminar and argued that suffering crosses into people's realities as an unexpected and unwanted guest, but it brings opportunities for God to be be found in its midst. He argued that the cross tells us God is there, how he is there, and it points to hope when everything might seem hopeless. He suggested that chaplaincy helps people encounter God in the harsh realities of everyday life, in the anguish of their suffering and in the public space where private agonies are borne.

Seminar 3 - 'Chaplains in the firing line'

Peter Frith is an Anglican minister previously involved in parish ministry including church planting, and churches in rural, suburban and inner city locations. In recent times he has been an Anglicare chaplain to the mentally ill.  It was in this role that he was called in at short notice to offer support to the victims of the Lindt Cafe Siege as the crisis unfolded. He shared his experience of the challenge to care in such a crisis with no previous experience in such a situation and shared how he and others experienced Christ in the chaos.

3. Radio-play performance of 'The Job Verbatim'

The radio play explored was written and produced by Kate Bradford. Kate is an Anglican Lay Minister and has served as a chaplain in Paediatric Hospitals since 2007. The Job Verbatim was a dramatic presentation of segments of the Book of Job that allowed groups to reflect on the experience and consider how their observations of the experience had relevance for the care they offer to others. It was a powerful and creative activity that made the Scripture come to life.

4. Case Quarterly

As an outcome of the conference CASE is publishing a special edition of Case Quarterly. This will include papers from the conference plus additional papers from other writer.

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