Time9:00 AM To 5:00 PM
Being and Belonging: Disability, Church, and Community
[Alt text: A multicoloured abstract artwork by studioA artist Peter Dudding with white type that reads “Being and Belonging: Disability, Church and Community. An Australian College of Theology Conference Friday 22 September 2023”.]
Being and Belonging is a one-day conference which brings together academics, practitioners, educators, students and others to engage in conversation around disability and its relationship to community, church, theology and the Bible.
As Christian people, leaders and scholars, we value being human and belonging together. We wrestle with scripture, theology and practice, taking on the big themes: identity, faith, doctrine, prayer, hope, love, sex, community. What if we added cognitive disability, cerebral palsy, mental health challenges and dementia to our concerns? How might the being and belonging of all kinds of people be blessed? And how might our own theology be refreshed? The Australian College of Theology’s inaugural conference on disability and theology will help you see the wonder that we call disability in a new way.
Friday 22 September 2023
Anglican Deaconess Ministries
St Andrews House Level 1, 464-480 Kent St, Sydney, Australia
Day Face-to-Face: $110 ($88 student/concession)
Online: $55 ($44 student/concession)
|Registration, Tea and Coffee
|Welcome, Acknowledgement of Country, housekeeping, etc.
|Keynote 1: Our Journeys of Inclusion. Rev Jason Forbes and Fiona Sherwin
Inclusion and Belonging
Disability and Biblical Texts
Building strong foundations: Understanding belonging and mental health
Walking Slowly in Paris: Some thoughts on the special mention of people with disability in The Book of Jeremiah
Disability, Sexuality and Faith
The Dynamics of the Self and the Other: How the book of Job may contribute to disability theology
Are Support Workers Interchangeable?
A Christian Personalist Perspective
Cognitive Disability and the Hebrew Bible
|Short bathroom break
|Keynote 2: Who says I can’t do it? Including Diverse Learners in Christian Higher Educational Institutions. Karenne Hills (40 mins + 20 mins for questions)
Disability Projects and Communities
Prayer, Ritual and Spirituality in L’Arche Communities
Re-thinking thinking, disability and faith:
Towards a more inclusive theological epistemology
|Erin Martine Hutton
What are reasonable adjustments and how do we make them? An ACT Project.
“Empty Chairs and Empty Tables:” Yahweh’s creative forming and filling: a theological journey of faith communities in seeing disability as empty spaces to overflowing opportunities.
The Engage Disability Project in India
The Creational Model of Disability: New Prospects for Disability Theology and Eschatology.
|Discussion Panel and Closing Reflections
Keynote 1: Rev Jason Forbes and Fiona Sherwin, “Our Journeys of Inclusion.”
Jason and Fiona both work in the area of disability. In this keynote they will present their respective journeys of inclusion, through their own perspectives. Jason is a theologian who has a lived experience of disability. Fiona is a theologian who does not presently have a disability. Both support and advocate for people with disabilities, and both have a passion for the church to be places of belonging for those who are often marginalised.
Keynote 2: Dr Karenne Hills, “Who says I can’t do it? Including Diverse Learners in Christian Higher Educational Institutions.”
This presentation provides an overview concerning a trial prototype program created within a private higher education provider in Brisbane, designed to explore the effectiveness of alternative methods of educational delivery to assist students with different learning styles and abilities to achieve academic success. The program was underpinned by an ethos of inclusion and values that celebrated the rich diversity and inherent worth of every person. The prototype implemented innovative strengths-based approaches for one initial participant diagnosed with a mild physical and moderate intellectual disability. Success exceeding all expectations was measured academically, along with the sense of inclusion, heightened self-esteem and sense of purpose and achievement expressed by the student. Achieving much more than facilitating one student to achieve an academic goal, this project spoke to the very heart of inclusion and possibility. Current research identifies a gap in services for atypical students in tertiary education, alongside Australian universities current focus on equity and accessibility. The program highlights the possibility available for Christian institutions to lead the way in including people with disabilities into a place where they belong.
Donate a Meal
The Being and Belonging Conference is being catered by a wonderful social enterprise Dinner on the Table. When you purchase your conference ticket, you have the opportunity to donate a meal. Your donation allows Dinner on the Table to cook and provide meals for people with greater daily stressors & fewer resources due to disability.
Read more at: https://www.dinneronthetable.com.au/pages/our-impact
Fiona Sherwin has had a long history of living life with people with disabilities as a caregiver and a friend. Fiona manages the student support team at Laidlaw College, based on the Henderson Campus, in New Zealand. In 2011, Laidlaw wanted to become more intentional about how the college should support students with impairments, so Fiona was tasked with the responsibility of being the disability liaison. Part of her role is to work with the rest of the team to support disabled learners. In August 2020, during the covid lockdown in New Zealand, Fiona submitted her Master of Theology thesis exploring the church being a place of belonging for people with disabilities.
Rev Jason Forbes
Jason Forbes is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He has Cerebral Palsy which affects his speech, mobility and fine motor control, yet maintains an independent lifestyle. Jason works for Jericho Road (NSW Presbyterian Social Services) as the Disability Advocate to the NSW Presbyterian Church. This involves raising the awareness of disability and equipping the Church to respond to the needs of people who have disabilities. Jason graduated from the Presbyterian Theological Centre (now Christ College) in 2012 with a BTh and AdvDipTh, and completed his MTh in 2020. In his academic work, Jason has addressed topics including the work of the Holy Spirit in a person with a disability and their relationship with the church, disability and the Fall, and the fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah in the healing ministry of Jesus. He has a keen interest in biblical languages and would like to extend his academic work in theology and disability in the future.
Dr Karenne Hills
Karenne Hills maintains a ‘portfolio lifestyle’ with a number of professional interests. She is the Course Coordinator for the Master of Counselling program at Australian Institute for Professional Counsellors, (AIPC), and also operates a private practice combining her professional qualifications in the areas of counselling, nursing, teaching, disability and autism. She works with individuals, couples and families in a variety of contexts, specialising in supporting families and organisations with a member with a disability. Karenne completed her PhD, Spirituality in the Context of Nonverbal Autism, in 2019 and is passionate about exploring the spirituality of people who may experience barriers to traditional religious teaching and involvement. She also consults to local disability organisations and is currently working on an innovative program designed to support students with specialised learning abilities achieve success in post school educational and employment opportunities. She regularly speaks at local, national and international conferences on a variety of topics pertaining to people with disabilities, spirituality and autism. Karenne has published in several academic journals and books.