|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS||
South Australia is a large state in central, southern Australia. The majority of its 1.5 million population live in the capital city of Adelaide, which is known by its nick-name, The City of Churches. It was settled by free British settlers in 1836, who brought Christianity with them. Like the rest of Australia, the majority of South Australians are nominally Christian. There is a small but strong Christian segment of the population, most attending either Roman Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Baptist or Assemblies of God churches.
South Australia was home to a number of aboriginal (indigenous) people for thousands of year prior to European settlement, which occurred when free British settlers established the city of Adelaide in 1836. Over the following decades new settlements were created with farming and mining as the main industries of the state. In 1901 South Australia, along with the other states, entered into the new independent country of Australia. Throughout the first half of the twentienth century the state slowly grew with most migration coming from the United Kingdom. In the later half of the centuries migration expanded, with a significant number of people coming from southern Europe and South East Asia.
Most of south Australia is desert or semi-arid land. The state is often known by locals as the "driest state in the driest continent in the world". There is a low mountain range, the Mount Lofty-Flinders Ranges, which extends north-south for almost 1,000 km and the Murray River, one of Australia major rivers runs through the south-east of the state.
The majority of the population live in Adelaide, which has a population of about 1 million people. There are a few small regional centres with populations in the order of 10 thousand people or so and many smaller towns.
South Australia, particularly in Adelaide, is a multi-cultural society with people from many different backgrounds. The majority can however trace their roots back to the United Kingdom. English is universally spoken, although many children of migrants continue to speak the native languages a their parents as well.
The state is reasonably affluent, with much of its wealth coming from mining and farming. Homelessness and poverty, although not common, continue to exist.
The state currently has a democratically elected centre-left Labor government in power.
The majority of South Australians called themselves Christian at the most recent Australian government census. According to the figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics the percentages of adherents to different religions were as follows:
- Christianity - 59.8%
- Buddhism - 1.5%
- Islam - 0.7%
- Hinduism - 0.3%
- Judaism - 0.1%
Many of those who identify themselves Christians are nominally Christian only, without any real living faith. According to a recent survey two church denominations were growing in South Australia: Pentecostal churches and independent Baptist churches. Most others were stable or slowly dropping in numbers.
In recent years a number of issues have proved divisive within churches in South Australia. The ordination of women in the Anglican church, although generally accepted, has caused concerns for a number of large evangelical Anglican churches. Moves to embrace homosexuality have resulted in some rifts in the Uniting Church in Australia with the formation of the Confessing Congregations.
Evangelism to the community has received high ecumenical focus in recent years with a number advertising campaigns such as the Jesus All About Life campaign. In the media Christianity has been promoted by the overtly Christian radio station Life FM.