Students get a sense of being part of something bigger when schools join together for Confirmation preparation. This innovation profile is from the fourth edition of Experiri (Term 4 2014) and was contributed by Natasha Darke from St Peter’s Girls, Theo McCall from St Peter’s College, Ben Bleby from St Peters College, Sonya Paterson from Pulteney Grammar School and Andrew Mintern Senior Chaplain for Schools.
What was the need or challenge being addressed?
There are twelve schools in South Australia, most offer opportunities for students to prepare for confirmation. Often chaplains run these sessions on their own with a fairly small group of students. Instead of all running groups separately, the chaplains wondered, “Is there a way of sharing this and bringing the students together for some part of the preparation?”
What was the response to the need?
On Tuesday 27th August about sixty students from Pulteney Grammar School, St Peter’s College and St Peter’s Collegiate Girls School (plus three siblings from two other schools) gathered at St Peter’s Cathedral for a day of confirmation preparation. The day was divided into different sessions. After an opening liturgy led by Andrew, there was a fun icebreaker activity led by Ben, followed by a welcome to the Cathedral by the Dean, The Very Rev’d Frank Nelson. Then we broke into three mixed groups for a tour of the Cathedral with Cathedral staff, which was great fun and highly informative. After morning tea Natasha led an interactive small group session on “Who is God?” using visual and scriptural images. Then Sonya led a session on sacraments followed by Peter Sandeman (CEO of Anglicare-SA) speaking on discipleship and social justice. Following lunch each chaplain spoke of their own faith journey chaired by Andrew, then there was a free for all time of questions to the panel of chaplains chaired by Theo, and the day concluded with a closing prayer time.
What was the impact?
The desired impact has been for students to feel they are part of a bigger group rather than perhaps feeling like the odd ones out in preparing for confirmation. Coming away from their school environments heightened the sense of this being a special thing to be involved in. The impact for chaplains was to share responsibility and enable us to focus on specific areas. Exploring the Cathedral was a real highlight and gave the students a chance to feel a greater sense of connection with this special place.
What were the greatest challenges?
The greatest challenges were avoiding the day being just a talking head at the front – the Cathedral was a great venue in many ways but a bit limited in others (pews, hard floors, no AV equipment). Managing a larger number of students was an issue too and if, as expected, this event is more popular next year, more staffing support and more small group work may help greatly.
Experiri is a quarterly newsletter presenting stories of innovation in school ministry from Australia and beyond. Each edition provides two or three profiles of innovative strategies that have been developed in response to challenges or emerging issues for chaplains or others in Anglican Schools, including Heads and Religious Educators. Until now Experiri was an emailed newsletter but in the coming months some of the previous profiles will be posted here along with new stories.
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