Part of St James’ mission is to nourish the faith of our church members, to support those seeking God or questioning their faith, to facilitate debate, and to educate those who wish to be better informed about Christianity. This mission underpins much of the work of the St James’ Institute, involving topical seminars and discussion groups. We also seek to connect with organisations and businesses here in the city of Sydney by putting together an annual programme of events on a wide variety of topics to engage with questions of faith, belief, religion and spirituality in the public square.

St James’ Institute Director

Dr Aaron Ghiloni (BA, MA, PhD, GradCert) was commissioned as Director of the St James’ Institute on 1 November, 2020.

Dr Ghiloni is a teacher and scholar with interests in religious diversity, educational philosophy, and the intersection of religion and culture. He has taught religious studies at the University of Queensland and theology at Australian Catholic University.

Aaron is concurrently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Public and Contextual Theology (Canberra) and a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Queensland.

Dr Ghiloni is the author of John Dewey among the Theologians (2012) and Islam as Education (2019), and the editor of World Religions and their Missions (2015, 2021). He is on the editorial team of Religious Education.

In previous roles, Dr Ghiloni served as Principal of Trinity College Queensland, Director of the Australia Studies Centre (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), and Director of the Centre for Practical Spirituality. He has also worked within the Anglican Church in Queensland, the United Methodist Church (USA), and the Uniting Church.

Aaron has been a Visiting Scholar at York St John University (UK) and Point Loma Nazarene University (USA).

Announcement of 2021 Programme

Life is complex. Being Christian does not change that. If anything, the paradoxes of the grave-to-sky faith drive us to think more deeply about meaning, ethics, and truth. Jesus’ followers were known to say, “This teaching is difficult!” (John 6:60).

The St James’ Institute faces the hard questions of life and faith. No quick fixes, no strawmen.

St James’ Institute’s 2021 programme addresses a range of difficult topics: dementia, gender and identity, dogma in a post-truth world, mission in the aftermath of colonialism, the politicisation of religious symbols, Muslim–Christian relations, death denial, etcetera. In taking on these issues, the Institute is intentional about addressing the relation between religion and society in its complexity.

But we not only face difficult questions, we face one another. We ask hard questions strengthened by our shared humanity. We laugh together. We doubt together. We believe together. We are surprised by wisdom’s multiplicity. In a community of adult learners, the tension between our sameness and our difference is an invitation to grow.

As the Institute’s new Director, my aim is to produce a programme which brings reasoned faith into conversation with broader cultural issues. This two-way engagement is a key focus of our strategic direction. Jesus’ pedagogy is both “spirit and life” (John 6:63).

I invite you to learn with us.

Dr Aaron Ghiloni

Director, St James’ Institute