Student ministry invites church into thinking faith

Hosted by and for university students, the event also had intergenerational engagement.

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Professionals from diverse backgrounds shared their unique perspectives on faith with university students and other church members at the “Thinking Faith” event on May 12 and 13. Hosted by VicASA—the Victorian Conference’s ministry for university students—presenters and about 140 participants discussed big questions of faith, sustaining and sharing faith, and the difference faith makes.

“It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many bright minds tackling the bigger topics expanding our views on the way our faith should influence all aspects of our lives, our careers, actions, thoughts and dreams,” reflected Grace Madhuvu, a first-year nursing student at Deakin University. 

According to university chaplain Pastor Moe Stiles, a highlight of the event was hearing from the different presenters as they shared from their different disciplines and professions. Presenters included Dr Tim Gillespie—lead pastor of Crosswalk Church in Redland, California, who talked about the philosophy of faith; artists and arts educator Joanna Darby; medical researcher and health director from Sydney, Dr Christiana Leimena-Lehn; Kelly Jackman, departmental assistant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries; and Perth-based lawyer Lesleigh Bower.

“I most enjoyed meeting intelligent young people intent on having an honest and authentic relationship with Jesus, not just for their own satisfaction and betterment, but which also transforms their vocational life,” said Ms Bower. “I also appreciated Tim’s focus on present truth, which reminded me that God’s ways are still being revealed to His people, such that there is much to learn and look forward to, both individually and corporately.”

While the “Thinking Faith” event was hosted by and for university students, a highlight for Pastor Stiles was the “intergenerational engagement during discussion times, as well as hearing some honest reflections about faith.

“The reality is that many of us experience doubt and faith concurrently,” she explained, “and we need the church to be a safe space for questions. Faith is first of all a dynamic experience and journey. Thinking faith can be transformative both for us as individuals as well as the community in which we are engaged.”

University of Melbourne science student, Benjamin Pratt expressed his appreciation of this first-time event. “I really enjoyed the conversations our table had, especially when we went a little off-script and talked more around the ideas presented,” he reflected. “The speakers were excellent, especially Christiana who linked health and faith wonderfully with an analysis of ‘common sense’. I am keen for more fun events like this in the future.”

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