Student Conferences Provide Ethos Boost

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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. If you are interested contributing please let us know.

This profile is from the first edition Term 1 2013 and was contributed by Stephen Harrison, Director of Mission with the Anglican Schools Office in Brisbane.

Student Conf Wordle

What was the need or challenge being addressed?

In many schools there is a small group of students who support the chaplain by helping with activities such as worship. Sometimes these students have a formal role such as chapel captain or sacristan.  It was perceived that there was a need to encourage and inspire these students and to develop them as future student spiritual leaders in the school. We also wanted to encourage Christian students to have a greater impact on their school community.

What was the response to the need?

The Anglican Schools Commission, in partnership with schools and  other Diocesan agencies ran a three day conference open to students in years 10-11 from any of our schools. The Conference was during term time and many schools paid student fees. Students were engaged in a range of activities including guest speakers, practical workshops, worship and community building. An open Q & A session with chaplains, and time to plan what they might take back to their school community were two of the most significant activities.


 What was the impact?

Fifty four students from ten schools attended the conference. The impact of the student conference has been more significant than expected. Students have reported being greatly encouraged and chaplains are reporting an increased desire and energy among students to build and shape  the Christian life of the school with such things as prayer groups,  worship committees and lunch time groups.  There is also a reported increase in a sense of connection with and understanding of Anglican/Christian identity.  Students valued highly the chance to meet others from a range of Anglican schools.

 What were the greatest challenges?

Selling the Conference to schools during academic time was always going to be the hardest task. The Heads supported the concept and the chaplains’ group in Brisbane was instrumental in making it happen. The chaplains, and in some cases senior staff members were the people in the schools that inspired students to go, and provided the budget to send them. One important aspect of its success was the provision of a bus to transport students from school to the conference and back. Chaplains and teachers from participating schools also attended and this helped with the running of the conference.

Stephen Harrison Written by:

Stephen has a passion for exploring mission and ministry. He has worked for the Anglican Church for the last twenty years mostly in the area of youth and children’s ministry. In this time he has worked for two churches, two Anglican schools, as a university chaplain and for the Brisbane Diocese as the Youth, Children’s and Families Officer. Currently he is the Director of Mission for the Anglican Schools Commission. He has degrees in Science, Theology, Community Welfare, Education and has completed a Doctorate in Ministry, focused on the church’s mission in Anglican schools.

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