Spiritual Care 2013
The first Spiritual Care Conference, organised and hosted by the Spiritual Companions Trust, was held in Glastonbury between 17-19 May 2013. The Conference offered a blend of lectures and presentations, networking opportunities, and time for contemplation and meditation, with a variety of speakers from the fields of spiritual care and education. The overarching theme was “How Spirituality Best Integrates into the Modern World”.
The Conference began with a Friday evening picnic in the beautiful gardens of the Chalice Well, a World Peace Garden nestled at the foot of the impressive Glastonbury Tor. The weather was good and attendees were able to mingle, share their picnics, and get to know each other — as well as re-find old friends — before Dr William Bloom gave a welcoming speech about the Conference and Chalice Well, and lead a short meditation.
On the Saturday, vocal coach Candy Verney brought some cheer to the morning session with a short exercise in chanting to welcome each other to the Conference. The first speaker was Sister Jayanti, the European Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, who discussed how important it is for any spiritual work to begin within the self before we can reach out to support others. Picking up this theme next was Stephen Wright, a professor of nursing and co-founder and director of the Sacred Space Foundation. Drawing on the concept that “everyone gets to go home”, he reflected that authentic spiritual awakening is gritty and ugly as well as grounded in love, and can be supported by others who have also walked the path and are willing to hold others.
During the afternoon, Anna Lubelska of Spiritual England talked about the Peaceful Schools Movement, which encourages and supports schools in becoming peaceful communities for both staff and students. As well as initiating discourse and exercises in self-care, quiet time and stilling, there is also a focus on building values (such as honesty, integrity, compassion) into education. Nick Clements, a pioneer in the field of community arts and men’s spirituality, continued this vein as he discussed the need for modern rites of passage and also connections between spirituality, community and creativity. Finishing the day was Miranda MacPherson, founder of The Interfaith Seminary, who used a combination of music, chant and lecture to explore the individual aspects within the spiritual journey for oneself and how we can best walk alongside others, offering space and support.
After another welcoming chant on the Sunday morning, Reverend David MacGeoch of St John’s Church, Glastonbury, brought a unique perspective on spiritual and social care in a diverse society, touching on areas such as mental health, social work, education, and grassroots pastoral care. Dr William Bloom, one of Britain’s leading authors and educators in the mind-body-spirit field, followed with a discussion and meditation on modern spiritual practice, and an explanation of the Spiritual Companions Trust.
Dr David Hamilton, bestselling author and co-founder of the international relief charity Spirit Aid Foundation, explored the connections between science and spirituality with a laughter-filled presentation that moved from chemistry and biology to love and compassion and back again without blinking, with an emphasis on the need to love oneself as well as others. Chrissie Astell, a former frontline nurse and now an inspiring teacher about the angelic realms, gave the final presentation of the Conference with a heartfelt talk about Divine inspiration, guidance, and the need to follow one’s own heart.
Throughout the Conference, Spiritual Companions and Spiritual Companion Educators were available to help anyone with any questions or comments, and the Educators also introduced each of the speakers in turn, with question-and-answer sessions held after each presentation. There were also opportunities for networking, guided meditations, and group contemplations, and of course a good number of tea breaks! At the end of the Conference, the Spiritual Companions team were very appreciative for the attendance and participation of the speakers and delegates, and look forward to future events.
Did you attend the Spiritual Care Conference 2013? Would you like to share your feedback or photographs (with credit) for us to use on our site? If so, please contact us.
Read Bill Bird’s notes of each speaker’s presentation: BillBird_SpiritCareConf2013Notes