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Fiona Gardner to present 2020 Backhouse Lecture

Seeking Union with Spirit: Experiences of Spiritual Journeys by Fiona Gardner
presented Monday 6 July 2020 at 7.15pm via Zoom.

Although originally daunted at being asked to present the 2020 James Backhouse Lecture to Australian Friends, Fiona Gardner came to find that the opportunity encouraged her to reflect more deeply on her own journey and what might usefully be shared with others, For over twenty years, Fiona has participate in facilitating the Meeting for Learning (a year-long program for spiritual nurture, designed to explore Spirit and Quaker ways), and lives with her partner in a small intentional community that has been a place of spiritual growth and learning. She has worked as a social worker for many years and now as a university teacher, particularly in the areas of fostering critical reflection and sprituality  for pastoral care workers. A continuing challenge in her own spiritual life has been how to integrate her spiritual being in all of these aspects of her life.

“Why seek to live life in union with Spirit?  Such a life, in my experience and that of many others, is a fuller, richer, meaning filled and deeper life, connected to that which is eternal. It means moving from what is often called the ‘divided life’, beyond opposing forces to a place of wholeness, to integrating all of who we are in all that we do. To do this means holding together these opposites.” 

Fiona Gardner came to the Religious Society of Friends in her mid-thirties, convinced by the depth and power of silent worship, the warmth and welcome of Quaker community and social commitment.  She is a longstanding member of Victoria Regional Meeting, and is based within the Bendigo Worshiping Group, a small worshipping group in rural Victoria. She has also played a significant role nationally in the development of Meeting for Learning over the years and feels fortunate to have been a facilitator of Meeting for Learning since its beginning in 1996. 

Fiona’s professional work is as a social worker primarily in rural areas, and for the last ten years she has been coordinator of the Department of Social Work at La Trobe University Rural Health School, and researching and writing related to the place of spirituality in social work and allied health. She also teaches a unit in critical spirituality at Stirling Theological College with pastoral care workers and ministers, mainly from a variety of Christian traditions.

  • Fiona Gardner's 2020 Backhouse Lecture can be purchased here
  • The lecture recording is available on the Quakers Australia YouTube channel here.  


The James Backhouse Lectures are public lectures on contemporary issues delivered at the national gathering of Quakers in Australia. They were initiated by Australia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) on its establishment in 1964. To learn more about the James Backhouse Lectures visit here.


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Last modified: 
Saturday, 11 July 2020 - 1:38pm