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Arresting Australia's religious decline

  • 19 October 2012

According to 2011 census data, since 2001 the proportion of the population who belong to a Christian church fell from 68 to 61 per cent. This is evident in all denominations, including the three largest: the proportion of Catholics fell from 27 to 25 per cent, Anglicans, 21 to 17 per cent, and Uniting Church, 6.7 to 5 per cent.

Meanwhile, those reporting 'no religion' increased markedly, from 15 to 22 per cent. This was most evident among younger people, with 28 per cent aged 15–34 saying they had no religious affiliation.

The man featured in this video is a leader in analysing and addressing this problem for Australian Christianity. Adrian Pyle is director of relationships and innovation for the Victorian and Tasmanian Synod of the Uniting Church of Australia, in the Culture and Context Unit of the Uniting Church's Commission for Mission.

According to its website, this new unit contains a number of projects, 'each of them a serious exploration of what theology, spirituality and transformative community looks like in places that the church often doesn't reach, or where it doesn't know what to do when it's there'.

As well as an interview with Pyle, the video contains excerpts from a talk entitled 'Awakening Faith in an Alternative Future' he gave recently at the annual gathering of the Sea of Faith Network on the Gold Coast. This progressive group describes itself as 'Australians of widely different backgrounds who are interested in the open exploration and non-dogmatic discussion of religion, faith and meaning'.

After finishing high school in Ipswich, Queensland, Pyle studied commerce and economics at the University of Queensland. After completing his degree he worked with business management consultancy firm, Accenture, then as an executive with Telstra and ANZ Bank.

Following this, in 2004 he moved into work as a lay person with the Uniting Church, first in a parish with the job title of community interaction coordinator. He built links with the local community, and sought to break down stereotypes and barriers in communicating with those outside the church.

After this he became director of the Mission Participation Resource Unit in the church, and in 2009 took up his present position as director of relationships and innovation. The brief is community development, fostering relationships with groups outside the church, and bringing innovative thinking and approaches into the church.

Peter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant with a master's degree from the Sydney College of