About seventy Academy members and friends gathered at Kurri Kurri TAFE in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales for our National Conference in January. Participants and speakers came from a variety of denominational, national and cultural backgrounds. For three days we explored the conference theme, 'Worship Under the Southern Cross' with the help of four keynote speakers, reflections from an Aboriginal member and a Pacific Islander theologian, several short paper presenters, and well crafted liturgies brought to us from our different chapters. We also explored the theme through a variety of lenses including music, theology, lived experience, history and text.
Of course, the conference will not be remembered so much for all the work we put into exploring the theme, or for the conversations and the conviviums, or for the excursions to the wineries, the breweries and the harbour foreshore and beach. Rather the bushfire emergency will be the most memorable part of the conference. Yes, our conference centre, inlcuding our accommodation, were surrounded by fire, some of our people were evacuated from there, and we all had to stay somewhere else for a night while the bushfire was brought under control. Thankfully we were all safe and well looked after.
Thank you to our conference manager, Steve Millington, for all the work he put into the conference. Thanks also to the NSW chapter and our local team for their advice, for their practical help, and for their unflagging support. And thank you to all the participants and the various speakers for your patience, your generosity and your care for each other. We look forward to seeing you in Perth in January, 2019.