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 in Australia. Hosted by VicASA — the ministry for university students of the Victorian Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church — 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 [and] expanding our views on the way our faith should influence all aspects of our lives, our careers, actions, thoughts, and dreams,” Grace Madhuvu, a first-year nursing student at Deakin University, said.
According to university chaplain Moe Stiles, a highlight of the event was hearing from the various presenters as they shared from their different disciplines and professions. Presenters included Tim Gillespie, lead pastor of Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California, United States, who talked about the philosophy of faith; artist and arts educator Joanna Darby; and Sydney medical researcher and health director Christiana Leimena-Lehn. There was also 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,” Bower said. “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 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 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.”
Benjamin Pratt, a University of Melbourne science student, 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 said. “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.”