Living in a “not so church-going society “

Posted on November 12, 2021

Dr Jenny George is the CEO of Converge International, the organisation which runs the Employee Assistance Program (confidential counselling) for St Paul’s staff members. Jenny also spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast this week, where the audience included the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and Governor-General.

With a PhD in Mathematics, Jenny’s work and research looks at the factors that influence mental health and wellbeing in modern workplaces. In many ways, we are asking the same questions in the context of working with your children at St Paul’s School. How can we help our students (and staff) to flourish? What does it mean to live “the good life”?

As you know, St Paul’s is an Anglican School, and our worldview is holistic. We have adopted the following definition of holistic education, as “… concerned with educating the whole person – body, mind and soul – to develop his or her fullest potential” (Lee, E., 2015).

Ours is vital work, as we recognise that many families no longer have ties with established religion. This means that many of our students find it difficult to articulate the moral and ethical framework from which their values are derived, and that is why our Character Framework plays such an integral role in the day-to-day life of the School. Virtually all of the virtues we have adopted would be familiar to adherents of the Christian faith.

Jenny George put it this way, when describing the development of values in post-Christendom, Australian society –

“I wonder whether our modern, not so church-going society had actually found good replacements for (the things that people used to get from going to church). When thanking God before every meal has gone, have we lost the habit of gratitude? Where looking forward to an eternal future no longer happens every Sunday, have we lost the habit of hope? When donating money and our time sacrificially is no longer expected of us, have we lost the habit of giving? I think this intertwining of mental health and spiritual health might be why there is such good evidence to show that counselling that embraces the whole of a person, including their religious beliefs, leads to the best mental health outcomes for them; working with every person and their unique spiritual beliefs can be incredibly powerful and effective for their mental health.”

The rest of the article is well-worth thinking about too. You can read it here –

Mr Nigel Grant

Executive Director of Faith & Community 

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