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SPEAKERS

DR CHARLES RINGMA

Dr Charles Ringma was appointed Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Regent College, a post that he held until he became Professor Emeritus in 2005. 

Charles Ringma, originally from Australia, had an interesting and varied career. After high school, he became a printer before he pursued further academic studies. He studied theology at Reformed Theological College, Victoria, Australia, receiving a BD; he then went on to complete a BA degree in Sociology and Studies in Religion at the University of Queensland, where he also received his MLitSt and PhD in the Department of Studies in Religion. He has done mission work among Aborigines in Australia, was the founder and director of the Good News Centre that worked with alcoholics in Brisbane, and was the Australian founder and executive director of Teen Challenge in Brisbane. 

Dr Ringma also pioneered a church, Jubilee Fellowship, in Australia. He has done research for the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Queensland, in the area of Disability Services, and has taught extensively at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manila, Philippines, where he was Professor of Theology and Mission. 

Charles Ringma has written articles for academic journals, several books on Christian spirituality, and a book on lay empowerment. His recently published works include Ragged Edges: Poems from the Margins and The Seeking Heart: A Journey with Henri Nouwen. His other works include Gadamer’s Dialogical Hermeneutic, Cry Freedom: with Voices from the Third World, Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton, Wash the Feet of the World with Mother Teresa, Let My People Go with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Whispers from the Edge of Eternity. His earlier works Seize the Day, Dare to Journey, and Resist the Powers have been published in North America by Piñon Press.

DR CHRIS FORBES

Dr Chris Forbes is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, and Deputy Chairman of the Society for the Study of Early Christianity. His fields of research and teaching focus on New Testament history, Alexander the Great and Hellenistic history, Graeco-Roman History of Ideas and the intersection of early Christianity and Graeco-Roman culture. His current research is in the field of the relationship between religion and philosophy in Graeco-Roman thought. He gained his BA (Hons I) Dip.Ed. in Ancient History at Macquarie in 1978, and his PhD in Ancient History in 1987. He has taught at Macquarie in various positions since 1985, full time since 1987, and was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2001. He is a member of the Society for Biblical Literature and the Tyndale Fellowship.

JENNY BROWN

Jenny Brown is Director of the Family Systems Institute in Sydney where she runs a clinical and training practice applying Bowen family systems theory to a range of human issues. She has been in the counselling field since the early 1980s with a long standing focus on couple and family therapy. Following her initial Sydney University Social Studies (social work) degree, Jenny has completed substantial postgraduate training including a Masters in Social work Columbia University New York, diplomas in couple and family therapy from Relationships Australia and the Family Institute of Westchester New York and supervisor accreditation at the Tavistock in London. Jenny is currently writing up her PhD thesis at UNSW researching parents' involvement in their adolescents' mental health treatment. She is a regular presenter at conferences, an author of book chapters and journal articles and her popular book on family systems applied across the life cycle: "Growing Yourself Up: How to bring your best to all of life's relationships" (Exisle Pub). Jenny is committed to applying her Biblical world view to filtering the secular theories she works with.

ASSOC PROF ALAN GIJSBERS

Professor Gijsbers is a specialist physician in Addiction Medicine and is an Honorary Clinical Associate Professor with the Department of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He was initially trained in general medicine, infectious diseases, tropical medicine and gastroenterology.

He was appointed as the inaugural Head of the Addiction Medicine Service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and is Medical Director of the Substance Withdrawal Unit at the Melbourne Clinic Richmond.  He is a foundation fellow in the chapter of Addiction Medicine of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He was the foundation chairman of the Victorian Addiction Inter-hospital Liaison Association (VAILA).

Professor Gijsbers is the national President of ISCAST, a group of Christians interested in the interaction between science and religion and the past National President of HealthServe Australia, an organisation of Christian health professionals who seek to provide health and development overseas. He is a member of the Board of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association. 

DR MEGAN BEST

Dr Megan Best graduated from Medicine at Newcastle University, Australia in 1984 with honours and the University Medal. She trained in Palliative Medicine and was a foundation member of the New South Wales Society of Palliative Medicine. She subsequently worked both in clinical practice and as a Palliative Care policy analyst at state and federal government levels. She is currently employed by HammondCare, a Christian healthcare provider in Sydney. Her clinical focus is the development of a Palliative Care Day Clinic at Greenwich Hospital which aims to support terminally ill patients with advanced disease who wish to remain living at home.

Megan has been involved in medical ethics for over twenty years and completed a Master of Arts in Applied Ethics in Health Care at the Australian Catholic University in 2001. She is currently a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney and a visiting lecturer in Medical Ethics at the University of New South Wales as well as a fellow in the Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education (CASE), a Christian research centre on campus. She is also a visiting lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. In 2009 she was awarded a Global Bioethics Education Initiative Grant by the Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity in Deerfield, Illinois, USA. She has since received a number of grants to pursue research on ethics at both the beginning and end of life. She is currently chair of the Ethics Committee for the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia.

Megan is involved in community discussion of current bioethical issues through media work and education.  She has written on many topics including euthanasia, stem cells and cloning, genetics, assisted reproduction and health resource allocation and she is a popular public speaker. She has written two books on the ethics of reproduction.  Fearfully and wonderfully made (2012) and A life already started (2013). In 2009 she convened the inaugural evangelical Christian bioethics conference at New College of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. She is a scholar at the Centre for Public Christianity, a research and media organization promoting understanding of the Christian faith in Sydney. 

Megan has contributed to development of health legislation at state and federal government levels and has an advisory role in the work of the Australian Christian Lobby. She was a foundation member of the National Health and Medical Research Council Licensing Committee, which regulates human embryo research in Australia and reports to Federal Parliament. She has acted as a consultant in bioethics to the Anglican Church in Sydney since 1998 and is a member of the Diocese’s Social Issues Committee which advises the Archbishop and develops ethical policy.

Her main research interest is the link between spirituality and suffering at the end of life and she is pursing this as a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney.

Megan and her husband are involved in ministry in a local church and they live in Sydney, Australia. Her favourite bible verse is Revelation 21:4.