“We have much to offer!” announced David Tacey, practising Catholic, author of 12 books, and professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Speaking at Summer Spirit, David said that while many fear that religion is losing its hold and that tradition has been rejected by modernity, religion does have a way of bouncing back. He pointed out that the word religio itself connotes return, renewal, and revival, and ligio meaning to bind back, to reconnect to the source.
“Christianity will go on because the message of Christ will endure. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit is taking care of this,” David said, adding that Christians need to communicate tradition using the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time. David’s words and activities of the weekend itself would well encapsulate the theme and atmosphere of the annual Summer Spirit held 15–17 February at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. At times vibrant and energetic, and quiet and reflective at others, the event revolved around the theme ‘Spirituality for Life’ in Australia’s growing secular society.
As well as David, the speakers during the weekend were psychologist John Gherardi; Lucy Moore of Messy Church; Rev Anne Wright, chaplain of Scotch College; palliative care pioneer Douglas Bridge, and Ian Robinson, chaplain of the University of Western Australia and organiser of Desert Journeys. Some 140 participants joined the plenary sessions and the workshop groups.
“Together you are the body of Christ,” Lucy reminded workshop participants. “Adults need children to help them be the complete body of Christ in worship. In the way that Jesus put a child in the centre, we need to be with children if we are truly to understand God. On the other hand, children need adults to model discipleship.”
Lucy led the Sunday worship service, showing how all-age worship could be meaningful to all. “We’re doing this on Palm Sunday,” Diane Boone of Willetton Uniting Church said after the service.
Confident in having heard Lucy and having two of her books in hand, Marian Crew said she would be organising Messy Church with others at the Uniting and the Anglican congregations in Gingin. Rev Anne Wright shared some of her findings for a doctoral research on worship among teenagers in churchrelated schools. Dr Doug Bridge spoke about healing in palliative care as a relational process involving movement towards an experience of integrity and wholeness that is facilitated by a caregiver’s intervention, but is dependent on the innate potential within the patient. He emphasised that health care must be whole, linking together meaning and purpose, connectedness to the moment to self, nature and God.
In the Bible studies that he led, Rev Dr Ian Robinson entered into the world view and experience of Jesus in the desert, a place similar to today’s highly contested environment.
“Spirituality, he said, “is not exotic, but mainstream and crucial if we are to open ourselves up to grace, strength and simplicity needed in the 21st century.”
At the end of the weekend, Marie Yuncken, chair of the Summer Spirit Committee, said that the themes wove well together and that “we’ve something to take away and use in our congregations.”