Rev. Dr Sarah Penwarden


Listening to each other: Attunement as a practice for sustaining community
Thursday 27 March 2025 | 4:00pm

We walk towards God in community. We are the Body of Christ and we are being the Body of Christ together. The church is thus both the work of the Spirit and the work of us, the people. How do we do church together with each other in a way that enables hope and flourishing to occur? This session imagines a church community responsive to each other, where leaders and people are in tune with each other. It begins by highlighting how listening within a church community can help it align or re-align with the overall vision and purpose of being the Body of Christ. It focuses on two examples of practices of attunement. Firstly, it describes the value of sermon evaluations as a practice of attunement. Secondly, it presents a survey designed and completed with the speaker’s own church where congregants were invited to identify which elements of church life created flourishing and hope in their lives. Such practices are tools through which to listen within the Body – with our mind, heart and ears – to hear the promptings of the Spirit.

Sarah Penwarden


Rev. Dr Sarah Penwarden is a counsellor, supervisor, and trainer in private practice based in Auckland. She has a PhD in Counselling from the University of Waikato. Her interest is in grieving and how writing stories can help a person journey in and through grief. She is a lecturer in the School of Theology on a part-time basis and is interested in holding in tandem the realities of life struggles with the hope of the gospel. She co-edited the book, Stories of Therapy, Stories of Faith. Sarah is an ordained Anglican priest in the Local Shared Ministry context of the Auckland Diocese. She is married to David, with three adult step-children and lives in leafy west Auckland.