Saturday, December 07, 2013
Broken Hill bound: updated 1st communion
I’m off to Broken Hill for the weekend. It’s a town of some 18,000 people, some 520 kilometres from Adelaide.
I’m going for the Ordination of one of our Uniting College Candidates, Jo Smalbil. Three years ago, Jo embarked on an experiment with us. After discussion with her Presbytery, she crossed the border (Broken Hill is in New South Wales, not South Australia). She spent the first year with us in Adelaide.
But for the last two years, she has been studying with us from Broken Hill. In sum, after some initial relational building, she’s down 2/3rds of her training in her local context.
Study wise, she comes down for our intensives and does the rest by distance. Relational wise, we pay for her to travel 9 times a year, to our monthly Leadership Formation Days, up and back in a day. This gives her a sense of connection with candidates. Fieldwork wise she has worked in her local church and participated in Frontier patrol work.
It’s a fascinating, and in Jo’s case, effective experiment, the fruit of which is evident over the weekend.
The only down side is that the only flight for Broken Hill leaves at 6:45 am Saturday, and returns 7 pm Sunday. It makes for an early start and a long weekend.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
seeking Director of Christian Education and Discipleship
Due to one of our team being called by another part of the church …. we at Uniting College need to find a Director of Christian Education and Discipleship. It’s a crucial part of our life as a College – we took the risk in 2009 of moving away from the traditional academic divisions of Bible, Theology and Pastoral – to four streams – Bible, Missiology, Leadership and Christian Education/Discipleship. So this role is crucial in ensuring the formation, discipling, learning piece. Here’s the brief advertisement, if you want more information, contact me on steve dot taylor at flinders dot edu dot au
Essential to Uniting College is a commitment to placing discipleship and faith formation at the heart of learning, leading and living. We seek a Director of Christian Education and Discipleship (0.7-1.0), to equip for Christian discipleship and resource congregational formation for Christian living in daily life. The role includes academic leadership, teaching and co-ordination of VET. Applications close 5 December, 2013.
Friday, November 22, 2013
connecting networks: a sausage, a story, a space
At Uniting College last night, we played host to the Urban Mission Network. Drinks and nibbles began at 6 pm, followed by a bbq in the common space. The 60 people present were then divided into three groups and inviting to participate in three different learning spaces, around which they rotated every 15 minutes. In each space was a different dessert and a different presentation.
One was our new Vanier space, in which the story of it’s birth was told. Another was a lecture room in which three Faculty presented in 5 minutes each something from a recent lecture. In a third space, highlights from the 2013 year were shared, linked to our Strategic plan.
The approach allowed lots of participation from the College team, it got people into the range of learning spaces that make up the College, it allowed for variety in presentation.
Finally we gathered for worship, concluding at around 9 pm.
It was wonderful to be hosting folk from the church, to be telling the College story, to hear the buzz of conversation and questions as people engaged and participated.
The Uniting Church in South Australia has around six active mission networks. Each meet regularly, moving around different churches, who take turns to host and to tell their story.
Hence the obvious idea, to suggest to each network that they consider us as a church. Could we take a turn to host, to tell our story, to participate in the natural rhythm of their life? So we asked, and the Urban mission network were the first to respond and a great night was had by all.
We hope in the future there will be more mission networks, willing to let us offer them a sausage, a story and space.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Mahara tutorials – a 21st century College
As part of commitment to quality education at Uniting College, next year we’re making Blended learning a focus. We want to maximise the mixing of students face to face and online.
As part of that, we’re experimenting with a programme called Mahara. In a few sentences, Mahara is a personal learning environment mixed with social networking, that lets you to collect, reflect on and share your achievements and development online. It’s a student space, perfect for collecting all their work over the space of a degree, perfect for a lecturer to point to an essay, or a paragraph and say “You really should make that public for the class to see.” It lets you build your resume, it syncs seamlessly with Moodle, it lets you blog, it lets you decide what to make public and to whom.
We are running some introduction sessions on this side of the summer holidays.
- Thursday the 21st Nov 1:30-3pm (Common Room at Uniting College)
- Thursday the 28th Nov 1:30-3pm (Common Room at Uniting College).
An opportunity to get going with a Learn! Lead! Live! tool over the summer holidays!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Big Year Out Co-ordinator Appointed!
Uniting College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dan Anear as the Co-ordinator of the new Big Year Out program.
Dan is a strong Christian, with a Diploma of Ministry and broad ministry experience working with young adults. He is also a very experienced VET educator, and will compliment the strong Faculty inputting throughout the program.
Dan says: “I’m thrilled to be beginning in this role, launching this exciting new program. I understand the dynamic and exciting journey that faith can consist of in the young adult years. Big Year Out is an excellent opportunity for young adults to deeply explore the Christian faith, partnering with their church.”
Big Year Out is a unique 1-year discipleship program for young adults, either alongside other study or as a gap year experience. It involves interactive study, community sharing and unique missional experiences. In 2014, it is likely to include partnerships with groups in two other states of Australia, making it a genuinely national growth opportunity.
Those with young adults interested in the Big Year Out, can view the brochure here, or come to the Info night on 3 Dec at 7:30pm at Uniting College, 34 Lipsett Tce, Brooklyn Park.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
we are two more
Exciting day today, as we welcome two new members to our Uniting College team.
Kelly Higgins is our Marketing and Promotions Officer. She will initially be at 0.2 FTE, moving to 0.4 in March 2014. She has an undergraduate degree in communications and multi-media and nearly ten years experience in Communications, Promotions and Marketing, in a wide range of work places – private business, local council, SA Health, Department of Education. She will help us tell our story, as a College, in clear, compelling, relational and contemporary ways.
Adam Jessep is our Blended Education Design Officer, working 0.6 in what is a Faculty position. Adam has over 10 years of experience, with Ministry of Defence and then a range of educational providers, in the area of adult education. He has a Masters in Ancient History, a Graduate Certificate of Education Leadership & Management and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Multimedia. He also has a Bachelor of Theology and is currently enrolled in Bachelor of Theology Honours. Currently, social media and digital technologies are inviting massive changes and we want to be a pro-active, theologically and pedagogically, in processing how these changes impact on our teaching and learning. Adam will work with both students and staff in these changing times, and as we move toward blended learning across all of our topics in 2014.
Both Adam and Kelly’s appointments are designed to resource the essential growth we need to see as a College, in helping transition to digital education and in enlarging our student base. They emerge out of two reviews, a Distance review tabled in July and an Organisational Capacity Review, tabled in August.
Friday, November 08, 2013
Leadership formation days
All around us at Uniting College is change. So much of it that at times I find it hard to keep on track of.
Back in July, we introduced changes to our Leadership Formation Days (announced here). Building on the past, we decided to try in our Leadership Formation Days to focus more specifically on practices and storytelling. Leadership Formation Days (currently) involve Uniting Church candidates for ministry and those in discernment. Prior to 2010, they occurred weekly on a Wednesday afternoon for chapel, community and colloquium input.
With a move to more dispersed training models and Candidates in context and at distance, we needed to find a different rhythm. So we shifted in 2011 to monthly on a Monday, all day. We kept chapel and community and offered a range of topics considered topical.
Another shift began this semester. We’ve moved from topics to practices. We opted to explore the practices (10) essential for mission-shaped spirituality. (Drawing on Susan Hope’s Mission-shaped Spirituality: The Transforming Power of Mission). Each time we gather we take a particular practice and over our day together, explore it in more depth, with a particular focus, on what the practice might mean for us as life-long learners and effective leaders in mission today.
Rather than work through them in the order from Mission-shaped Spirituality: The Transforming Power of Mission, we opted for a most challenging basis. This involved an initial introduction to all 10 practices and as part of that, the question – what practice challenges you the most? The results have shaped how the order.
So the shape of our final leadership formation Day for 2013 – with a focus on being bearers of the message – was as follows.
9:30 am – Missional Practice – Tim Hein – Being message bearers – the habits that shape and sharpen “message bearer” ministry
11 am – Morning tea
11:20 – Communities of trust processes in groups in S1, chapel, common space – Introduction including reflection of practise as a disciplines that read us, read our community actions.
12:20- Chapel with special guest Malcolm Gordon leading
1:10 – Lunch
2:00 pm – Storytelling one – Julie, an ordinary evangelist – a great example of a message bearer – using Skype. After the story, reflect in groups using a regular set of questions to engage and deepen insight.
2:45 pm – Storytelling two – Saint story told by Steve Taylor – Parikaha story as an example of a community as a message bearer.
After some adjustment over the last few months, all that initial trying out of new things – story, group processes – there was on Monday a real sense of depth and engagement. The mixed modes of input – teaching, storytelling, chapel, discussion, food are throwing up some lovely patterns. A highlight for me has been the storytelling – inviting new voices among us. We’ve used a mix of local, national and international guests and heard some great stories of God at work. A change, one of many, that is working it’s way nicely through our life.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Vanier Space commisssioning – just a twinkle one year ago
I’m so looking forward to this.
A year ago, chaplaincy was only a twinkle in a few eyes at Uniting College for Leadership and Theology.
Now there’s a Diploma of Ministry with a specialisation in chaplaincy, there are students, there is a new course offering – Theology and Practice of Chaplaincy, it’s available in distance and will be taught as an intensive in November 2014, there is talk of a Masters cohort, there is a hardworking Chaplaincy Co-ordinator – Trevor Whitney.
And there is a dedicated
Pastoral Vanier space. It is being commissioned today, Thursday 31 October, 6.15-7pm (below library). It is during the tea break at Presbytery Synod. (The “we” story of how it happened I’ve chatted about before).
Update – Photo of launch, with 50 guests watching 2 students using a hospital bed in the classroom to demonstrate what they’ve learnt about chaplaincy care.
During the launch, the dream was shared by the person who first dreamed it, some 10 years ago. A student spoke of their growth. An interactive prayer of commissioning was prayed. And the room was named – Vanier Space – after a contemporary pastoral theologian who’s integration of practice and theory in radically fresh forms of Christian life inspires us.
The room was named
It’s amazing what can happen in the space of one year.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A Clear Call mission and evangelism conference + intensive
Next year, Uniting College are delighted to be partnering with the National Assembly Mission and Evangelism working group – in a conference and intensive on mission and evangelism.
A Clear Call is a national conference engaging in how we share our faith contextually where we each live, love and have our being. It is for everyone who would like to share their faith and would benefit from conversation, information and practical examples. It is for all people: lay people, ordained, teams, young adults, all cultures and the full spectrum of theology of the Uniting Church. It will be be fun, deep, thoughtful, energetic, thought provoking and practical. It will approach faith-sharing from every angle. Speakers, program, registration is here.
The conference is followed by a week long intensive, Evangelism, Conversion and Mission of God. This course is designed to assist participants in forming and developing churches and faith communities in the task of evangelism. Participants will examine the nature of Australian society and its implications for evangelism and the growth of the Church. They will explore understandings of the value of evangelism as integral to the mission and ministry of the church. They will develop skills and practices in implementing local church evangelism. They will explore some of the important issues around evangelism, conversion and the mission of God, including pluralism and postmodernity. Content could include theologies of evangelism and conversion, the Australian context in history, contemporary challenges, models and practices of evangelistic churches, evangelism and special events and resources for evangelism today.
Taught by Olive Fleming Drane and John Drane for Uniting College of Leadership and Theology, they will use creative and inductive approaches, including storytelling, to help participants process and ground learnings for their own mission and ministry.
Course Costs: credit $1600 for Bachelor of Ministry; audit $275 (tbc); $1450 for Master or Doctor of Ministry
Course time/venue: 9-5 pm with an hour for lunch. Possibility of offering two evening rather afternoon sessions as opportunities for wider public engagement.
For more info, talk to Uniting College or register through Adelaide College of Divinity.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I’ll say goodbye
An ecumenical worship service occurs every term on the campus at Adelaide College of Divinity. This term was the last service for the Catholic Theological College, who are being closed down at the end of 2013. (The Uniting College will remain, and as our recent press release notes, will actively continue to give visible expression to an education in ecumenism.) So there was a particular poignancy about the service today.
I was involved in the planning, along with the Principal of Catholic Theological College. A creative spark for us came from Joyce Rupp’s, Praying Our Goodbyes. It’s such a practical book, which offers multiple ways to process grief and say goodbye.
So as part of the service we asked a number of folk to reflect on two questions
- What blessing do you most want to carry with you as you move on?
- What blessings are you most in need of?
Here’s what I said, with about 10 minutes prep time in between morning appointments, …
I came to this campus 3 and a half years ago. One of the selling points, one of the reasons I moved my family to another country, was the opportunity to teach and work ecumenically.
I’m a Baptist boy, so having Catholics above me, and Anglicans to my right, and Uniting colleagues to surround, would I thought be a very rich and a very growing experience.
So that’s the blessing I most want to carry with me as I move – ecumenical richness.
That moment when I give my Intro the Theology class a set reading. And then casually mention, oh the author of that reading is Denis Edwards. He’s a colleague on campus.
That moment when I pull Derrida’s Bible: (Reading a Page of Scripture with a Little Help from Derrida), brought on special on a trip to the United States, of my book shelf and realise I share the lunch room with the author.
That moment when I speak at the ACD art exhibition, when I worship in a chapel surrounded by art – Anglican, Catholic, Uniting -
The spirituality and art series run by Jo Laffin here on the weekends in my first year.
That’s the blessing, I’ll carry forward, the ecumenical richness. It’s one of the reasons I came, moved country.
What blessings are you most in need of as you continue your journey?
It’s expressed most eloquently in Te Putahi Matauranga Whakapono Katorika, the history of the Catholic Institute of Theology. As a way of helping me process what feels like the great ecumenical divorce that we’re growing through, I brought this book earlier this year. It describes a very similar journey, the NZ experience of the Catholic Institute of Theology, established some 23 years ago, emerging from the enthusiasm of Vatican 2, to embrace the world. Which closed in 2012, due to a range of reasons, including the actions and inactions of Catholic church hierarchies.
On page 114 there is like a short obituary notice – “What had started as a brave and visionary enterprise was hampered by a pre-occupation with the church’s own denominational interests which ran counter to the ecumenical spirit.”
That’s the blessing I’m most in need of. We live in times when it’s so easy to be pre-occupied with the church’s own denominational interests – Baptist and Uniting. Dare I even say Catholic. What I’m most in need of is a brave and visionary Spirit, of a God so much bigger than my own expression of church. That’s the blessing, that’s the God, I most need.
Monday, October 21, 2013
big year out: a unique young adult discipleship experience
Big Year Out is a unique 1-year discipleship program for young adults, either alongside other study or as a gap year experience. It involves interactive study, community sharing and unique missional experiences. In 2014, it is likely to include partnerships with groups in two other states of Australia, making it a genuinely national growth opportunity. For the full brochure, check out the Uniting College website, under the heading Programs.
Plus at Uniting College, we’re looking for a Big Year Out Co-ordinator – 2 days a week. You’ll be passionate about helping young people explore the fullness of the Christian faith, vocation and identity in contemporary life. You’ll find yourself part of a team committed to developing life-long disciples and effective leaders for a healthy missional church.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
research as gospel potential
“Critical qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the gendered observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices are forms of critical pedagogy. They transform the world.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 5)
Wow. Research that transforms. Now that’s a process, an activity, a culture worth being part of. That’s the goal of our Master and Doctor of Ministry at Uniting College, especially our Missional Masters cohort. Transform the world – beginning with participants and their communities.
Returning to the reading, it cites the work of Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, who provides examples of this type of research that transforms. She lists 25 indigenous research projects. These create, name, democratize, reclaim, protect, remember, restore, and celebrate. In research, these stories are told. They are not utopian for they “map concrete performances that lead to positive social transformations. They embody ways of resisting the process of colonization.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 12)
I was thinking about this yesterday as the urban mission vision of Jeremiah was being discussed. Seek the welfare of the city. Marry. Plant gardens. These were the invitation to create, name, restore, celebrate, the power of a minority group, in a dominant culture, to survive. This is what the church is today, a minority group that is invited into a creative, en-culturated relationship with Western consumer culture. Essential to this will be a set of practices.
Let me be practical. On Sunday I was part of making a solar oven. That’s a urban mission vision of an alternative practice of life. To use the oven is a sustainable way to care for the environment. It will mean a different pace of life, as cooking takes longer, so needs to start earlier, and with eating times dictated by the sun. It’s an alternative way of living, in the midst of Western consumerism.
And then comes the research, which will uncover these practices. For example the work of a student I was reading last week, on mainstreet theology. Or the student studying how local church op shops can be missional. Or the student researching how church communities in mining communities read the Zaccheus story.
“Accordingly, the purpose of research is not the production of knowledge per se. Rather, the purposes are pedagogical, political, moral, and ethical, involving the enhancement of moral agency, the production of moral discernment, a commitment to praxis, justice, an ethic of resistance, and a performative pedagogy that resists oppression.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 14)
Saturday, October 12, 2013
a happening place, a bouncing and imaginative place
Try hanging out at my workplace sometime! It’s a happening place. Lots of people imagining all kinds of things. My students are part of that. Have just marked an assignment where a student was asked to dream of a church that is committed to being intercultural. Damien Tann wrote his as a series of emails to an about-to-arrive pastor. I laughed and was impressed by turns. (And it is WEIRD to read oneself being quoted – will take a while to get used to that!) I’ve been warned by another student in that class that she is writing a children’s book…Another student wrote for a unit called ‘Mission Then Mission Now’ a narrative weaving with its strands being an analysis of the early Celtic Christian church, the Uniting Church in Australia today, and a middle strand of the commonalities. Peter Sorensen did an impressive job of comparing and contrasting the big challenges and bold responses of each to their contexts. And you had to read the woven text…Last semester Maxine Moore did an exegesis of her neighbourhood for the unit ‘Reading Cultures’, ready to respond missionally to it by QUILTING it! Very cool. Meanwhile Phil Smith produced a radio documentary of his local patch, pulling out metaphors for analysis that were offered by the local grocer and teenagers. And Matthew Barker did a short film. (He’s told me he’s writing a play for his next one – as did Damien for his last!) I’ve already mentioned a postgrad student of mine, Maree Aldridge who is an artist extraordinaire. Actually, I have another artist student working on a piece for his upcoming assignment…I love it when students don’t just stick to the essay option (not that that is a bad one!)
That constant thread of creativity, of honouring the life experiences and gifts that students bring with them into the learning experience. This is not a tabla rusa model of education, in which people are treated as blank slates on which new content will be dumped. Rather there is integration, in which new learnings are being woven back into lives and contexts. In other words, the pre-existing “quilter” is evolving, new quilts are made possible, out of blend of what was, what is and dream of what might be.
For the full post, including a reflection on a “bouncing” and “imaginative” Principal, go here. Rosemary’s blog, with her involvement around Australia and New Zealand, is itself a rich window into a happening, bouncing, imaginative life.