Petra Bagust – nurturing faith in the Sacred Sanctuary


Petra Bagust, television and radio personality and media chaplain, is confident in her faith in God.

Moreover, she’s willing to connect with people and invite them into open and honest discussions. That is important to her, she says.

So is the programme she hosts each week: Sunday Sanctuary – a small place of calm in a busy world.

Church on the radio

Bagust says when she was asked about doing a Sunday morning radio show, she said it should be a sacred, safe, spiritual place … like church on the radio.

Sunday Sanctuary is based on the liturgy of a traditional church service, Bagust explains. Each element has been reinterpreted for commercial radio.

It begins with a welcome – the call to worship.

What follows is the examen – a meditative part of the show. Baguste guides listeners through some self-reflection. The homily becomes what they call “wānanga” – where ideas meet over the table.

Bagust says she often invites guests to discuss the day’s theme – like grief, gratitude or perfectionism.

The result is a show, rooted in traditional church liturgy, that resonates deeply with a wide audience of listeners.

So deeply, that when producer Today FM suddenly shut down, the Sunday Sanctuary team kept the show going as a fortnightly podcast.

Faith restored

“I think you have literally restored my faith in faith,” a reviewer commented about Sunday Sanctuary.

“In Sunday Sanctuary, Bagust beckons the seekers, the questioners and the restless souls, and offers them a safe place to rekindle their connection with spirituality,” another says.

“By and large my chaplaincy is expressed most in the podcast. Inviting people to come to themselves with compassion” Bagust explains.

Her method seems to be working.

“Your podcast is probably the most enriching and encouraging thing I’ve come across since actively leaving the church and travelling the deconstructed faith journey,” a listener says.

Many people are deconstructing their faith. ” I can understand why they’ve begun on that journey,” Bagust says.

“My sorrow would be if the deconstructing was the end goal.

“Deconstruction” often talks about someone who’s been disillusioned by church, faith or religion  and is breaking down and analysing what they believe, or believed.

Deconstruction often paves the way for rebuilding, or “reconstruction”, Bagust notes.

“It’s the journey of the Psalms, isn’t it?”

Some Psalms portray a world in harmony with a benevolent God, representing faith construction. Others question God’s goodness in the face of suffering, marking the phase of faith deconstruction.

Some capture the struggle to reconcile doubts and disappointments with an enduring trust in God. They exemplify faith reconstruction, she continues.

They don’t contradict each other – they hold tension and represent some of the mystery we find in the human experience in relationship with God.

“I think that I needed to be older to get there,” Bagust says.

“I needed to make space in my life for lament and mystery, sorrow, tension and not having all the answers. And that stuff can live alongside my hope, and my faith, and my joy, and my enthusiasm.


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