A total of 75 delegates from more than 15 countries converged on Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln for the biennial four-day event.
Led by Dr Kate Adams, Head of Research at the university, and held in partnership with the International Association for Children’s Spirituality (IACS), the conference ran from Tuesday 26th until Friday 29th July.
Dr Adams said: “There is a significant recognition that the spiritual dimension of life is often undervalued in societies which are consumer-driven and market-orientated. We wanted to explore the many elements of children’s spirituality through dialogue between those from different disciplines and cultures.”
Entitled Spirituality and the Whole Child: Interdisciplinary Approaches, the conference attracted many of the world’s leading experts, practitioners and postgraduate students and was a forum for those working in education, social work, chaplaincy, psychology, youth work, ministry and neuroscience.
Keynote speakers came from prestigious universities from across the globe and included John (Jack) Miller from the University of Toronto, Canada; Joyce Ann Mercer from Yale Divinity School, USA; and Jacqueline Watson from the University of Exeter, UK.
They shared their research, insight and wisdom and stimulated debate on alternative schooling, restorative spirituality for traumatised children and integrated working to support children respectively.
An additional 44 papers and workshops were delivered covering themes relating to spirituality in different contexts. These included the early years through to adolescence, music, art, meditation, mindfulness, children’s literature, resilience and religious approaches.
During the conference, Dr Adams was elected as Co-chair of the association. “I am honoured to have been voted in to this role by our members,” she said.
“IACS is an inclusive community which values the spiritual lives of children and young people, irrespective of their faith or lack thereof. It is particularly pertinent to BGU as a church university to be central to this significant work which is being conducted across the globe.”
A series of social events took place during the week and included the formation of a community choir by conference delegates. The choir was led by Frances Kelly, a recent recipient of a British Citizen Award for services to community music-making in Lincolnshire.
The delegates also enjoyed a bespoke tour of Lincoln Cathedral as seen through children’s eyes as well as a conference dinner showcasing the outstanding talents of BGU chef Jack Bridges and his team.