This report has not investigated the large denominational services such as Anglicare from the Anglican Church or Centacare from the Catholic Church. These larger organisations have their roots in the Church but their administration is independent of local churches and many programs rely on government funding.
The twelve centres investigated here have a close link to the congregations of people from whom the initiative arose. The study aims to show some of the variety of services being offered to the local community by churches. The stories of formation and the ongoing experiences of staff provide a positive illustration of what churches can do.
It is hoped that these stories can inspire and encourage congregations who are looking for a valid way to live out the gospel through practical interaction with the local community.
Prayer is a central element of all religions. Alongside the sense of the theological importance of prayer there has been increasing recognition of the psychological function and personal benefits of prayer for adults. this thesis reports on the theological and psychological perceptions of prayer held by children., shown through their understanding of the meaning and function of prayer.
this thesis contributes to the field of children's spirituality. As there is little existing research literature on children and prayer, the finding of this study provide valuable new understanding and propose new aspects of theory with implications for professionals involved in the education and the welfare of children. the research reported in this thesis represent the first Australian research on children's perception of the meaning and function of prayer.
The choice of participants reflect the diverse philosophical and religious traditions found in the Australian, multi faith society.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 60 participants from Primary School Year Five, selected from six different schools in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Theres were: the Catholic, Independent (Christian), Christian (Parent- Controlled of Community School), Jewish, Islamic and government schools.
Considerable agreement has been observed through the data, between children educated in a variety of school systems. the personal experiences of prayer for many were seen associated with the community of faith to which the participant belonged, and for others, prayer was learnt eclectically and practiced in a private individualistic manner. All participants indicated that they had prayed and all contributed ideas about prayer through the interviews. All participants perceived prayer to function as an aid in life. Prayer was used by participants at significant moments in life and the words and thoughts helped to clarify and articulate deep feelings. Eight elements of theory have been generated through this research which are presented as recommendations for professionals engaged in religious education and student welfare.