Friday, October 10, 2014

can you help us tell our story in clear, compelling and contemporary ways?

During the week, I was copied into an email, from a person interstate (and from another Denomination). It noted that “Uniting College is one of the most cutting edge colleges in Australia.” It is a huge compliment and a wonderful encouragement. (For those interested in some of our story, here is what I shared at the 5th birthday “naming change” celebrations).

Due to a number of changes, we need a pretty special person to help us tell this “cutting edge” story. The changes include increasing the funding (from 0.4 to 0.6), making the role permanent (it was fixed term) and increasing the amount of money we budget for promotion. So, do you know someone who can help us tell a story – God’s story actually – of a divine invitation to go on a journey?

Marketing Officer
Uniting College exists to develop life-long disciples and effective leaders for a healthy, missional church, who are passionate, Christ-centred, highly skilled and mission-orientated practitioners. We offer a range of ways to learn and grow as a person and as a leader: through accredited course providers’ Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University and also through non-accredited courses for the Uniting Church.

An opportunity exists for the position of Marketing Officer. This position is a critical part of a committed team working within this tertiary education environment.

The Marketing Officer reporting to the Principal of Uniting College for Leadership & Theology, will work closely with the College faculty and staff, the Executive Officer and staff of Adelaide College of Divinity and the staff of the Communications team.

This diverse and challenging position will have a key responsibility for assisting the Uniting College and the ACD to tell their stories in clear, compelling, contemporary and relational ways. This will include;
• The ongoing development of the Uniting College and ACD brands
• Coordinating market research as to how the Colleges are viewed by current and future clients
• Providing professional advice on marketing strategies and methodologies
• Developing marketing and communication plans
• Strategies to increase awareness of the learning and spiritual growth opportunities provided by ACD and Uniting College in local, national and international communities
• Developing high quality written and digital communications
• Managing social and online media communications
• Proven ability to undertake successful promotional campaigns

It is essential the successful applicant will have relevant experience and/or qualifications in marketing, promotions and communications. Similar experience within an academic institution in the VET or Higher Education sector is well regarded. Understanding and experience of theology or theological education will be a significant advantage.

Further details are outlined in the Position Description & Person Specification which is available on our website http://sa.uca.org.au/uc-positions-vacant/ . Enquiries can be made to Manager, Human Resources on 08-82364278 or humanresources@sa.uca.org.au. Please forward applications addressing the selection criteria of the Position Description & Person Specification to humanresources@sa.uca.org.au by no later than 4pm, October 13, 2014.

Posted by steve at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Uniting College team news

There have been a number of team changes occurring at Uniting College in recent times.

First, a warm welcome to Kathryn Pearson, who has began her 12 month position as Principal’s PA. She is stepping into a role with Eloise Scherer taking 12 months maternity leave.

Second, at the most recent Standing Committee, Sean Gilbert’s placement as Ministry Formation Co-ordinator was adjusted from 0.7 to 0.8. This is because Sean has agreed to teach Introduction to Formation for Ministry on a permanent basis. This is a core first year topic that syncs really well with Sean’s existing responsibilities in SFE and Integrative Ministry Practice.

Third, we are now commencing a search for a 0.4 Lecturer in Pastoral Care. The hope is that this person will teach a rotating suite of upper-level pastoral topics. This will increase our Continuing Education offerings for ministers in placement. It might also be strategic as we think about what it means to train people for ministry that includes with agencies and in social work.

Fourth, Tanya Wittwer has been appointed as the new Post-Graduate Coordinator. Tanya is currently an adjunct lecturer with us, teaching Synoptics. She is also currently employed at School of Population Health, University of Adelaide, both as a Lecturer and as a Post Graduate Coordinator. As Post Graduate Coordinator she has refocused and refreshed their course work Masters and initiated two research degrees. She brings ministry experiences including as Hospital Chaplain, lay ministry at St Stephens Lutheran, Youth worker at Magill Uniting Church, Joint Churches Domestic Violence Coordinator. She has also lectured widely n Old and New Testament, Preaching, Pastoral Care, Narrative Therapy and Public Health. Her students describe her as passionate and enthusiastic. She has an MDiv (Wartburg) and a PhD (homiletics). She has successfully supervised at post-graduate level and has a track record of publication, in both academic and non-academic settings. Her recent research is in homiletics and pastoral formation. Tanya plans to start with us late November, then take four weeks holiday over Christmas and New Year, before starting mid-January 2015. This will allow overlap with Rosemary Dewerse, as she prepares to leave the team.

Can I note, with some degree of satisfaction, that this is the fourth appointment in 2014 that has been secured in a way that allows an overlap between the person leaving and the person coming. This greatly enhances the continuity among us as a Uniting College team, for which I’ve worked hard, and for which I’m grateful.

Posted by steve at 11:19 AM | Comments (2)

Friday, September 12, 2014

a college of passion

Passion.

Twice this week I’ve been told that a Uniting College lecture is full of passion.

First, a visitor. A successful local business person, dropping in to see “what happens”? And at half-time, looking the lecturer in the eye and thanking them for their passion.

Second, a lecturer. Inviting guests to share of their ministry. Glad, at lecture’s end, of the passion. And how it infected the students, shaped the tutorial, infected the ongoing learning of the class.

Passion.

What is interesting is that passion is a core value at Uniting College. You know those vision statements, destined to sit at the bottom of a pile of papers? Well, the vision statement of Uniting College includes passion:

To develop life-long disciples and effective leaders for a healthy, missional Church, who are:
Passionate
Christ-centred
Highly skilled
Mission-oriented practitioners

So, somehow, passion has snuck out of our vision statement, leapt of the page and seeped into how classes. How?

I asked this question at our team yesterday. What does passion mean for us? And how has it leaked into our life?

And so together we talked as a team.

  • is it because we care for our students? We’re not just about our research, we’re also about the people who come to learn and grow with us
  • is it because we’re shaped by suffering? That in each of us as lecturers, there has been a personal learning, a vulnerability
  • it is because we’re authentic? We want to walk our talk. We want what we say about faith, about ministry, about life, to be lived in us and livable through us.
  • is it because we’re sacrificial? Many of us have been paid better elsewhere. We’ve taken pay reductions to work here, because we believe in the Kingdom, believe in what we’re doing.
  • is it because we’re whole-bodied? The creative act invites us to take risks, to offer ourselves in risk into our projects, our lectures, our classes.

Passion. In us. In all of us as a team. In our life.  Snd so in our lectures. And please, in God’s grace, in our students.

Posted by steve at 09:51 PM

Thursday, September 11, 2014

facing forward Uniting Colleges

“We need different kind of leadership; people that respond quickly to new situations; people that don’t come with a ready made tool kit of resources; people that know how to draw out the best of the local community” So said Andrew Dutney in announcing the birth of Uniting College for Leadership and Theology five years ago. It was the reason for the change of name, a commitment to be a different kind of College that would train a different type of leader.

It’s consistent with how scholarship is understood in the Basis of Union. Paragraph 11 links scholarship with the mission of the church for fresh words and deeds, as the occasion demands. Thus the Uniting Church seeks a different model of scholar than that offered by the modern University. It seeks scholarship (and by implication, a College) that is ecclesial because it is integrative (read alongside paragraph 10), missionary, innovative (fresh words and deeds) and contextual (as the occasion demands).

Posted by steve at 12:09 AM

Thursday, July 31, 2014

best start to my class ever

I’m teaching an evening class this Semester. It begins at 6 and ends at 8 pm. It runs the danger that those arriving from work will be hungry and that attention levels will be flagging by the end. For those with a class prior, there’s an awkward time of waiting.

So I decided I’d offer soup. A quick email to all participants, saying that soup and bread would be available in the student common room from 5:30 pm.

We have no facilities for cooking, but who needs an oven when you have a crock pot, filled with pumpkin and simply turned to high two hours prior.

By 5:30 pm, about half the class had gathered. We were sitting around a table, pushed together. Bowls were being filled, compliments were being exchanged. Introductions were being made, banter was being exchanged, the warmth of humanity was emerging. Students were meeting me as “Steve the soup maker” seated at table, rather than Steve the lecturer, standing at the front of class.

soup

By the time we entered the classroom, a culture had been created. There was a relational connection, a sense of community, that no amount of first hour class dynamics would have the hope of achieving.

It’s the first time I’ve offered food and I was for me a very significant lesson in my teaching experience.

Posted by steve at 09:21 PM

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Uniting College welcomes Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Coordinator

Good news today with the appointment of Karen Vanlint to fill the newly created position of CALD Co-ordinator (VET) at Uniting College.

Karen has taught ESL 0.5 at Salisbury TAFE, for the past 3 years. She has significant experience as a school teacher, here and in the UK.
She has a particular passion for CALD persons, and displayed not only an excellent grasp on the appropriate approaches to establishing this stream at Uniting College, but insight and energy on how it might be significantly developed into the future.

She has a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Education, a Diploma of Christian Studies, a Cert IV in TESOL, and a Cert IV in TA (Training and Assessment).

In the midst of a very rich field of applicants, Karen also spoke of a particular personal ‘call’ to this role, having moved house to specifically engage with communities with higher numbers of CALD people.

Her references noted her diligence, quality and innovation in teaching, and organisational ability. She is an active member of Parafield Gardens Uniting Church.

The position is 0.2, and Karen will commence on Tuesday 29th July. She will focus on

  • the delivery of CALD VET training
  • liaising with ethnic Christian Communities in South Australia
  • student support as required

This position (similar to BYO Co-ordinator and Chaplaincy) is being funded through the release of funds from a specific Trust, to enable innovations which can result in new cohorts of students. We expect it to grow, but are starting small.

Personally, this is probably the most exciting innovation I’ve been part of initiating in my time as Principal of the College.

Posted by steve at 07:08 PM

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Diploma of Ministry: New pathway in Innovation and Pioneering

It seems appropriate in the week following Pentecost, to note the recent decision of the Academic Board to approve a new pathway in Innovation and Pioneering.

Dave Male has endorsed this, saying:

“This is a fantastic course that equips missional leaders for the present and the future of the church. I would encourage any leader to consider coming on this. It has some of the best material and teachers in the pioneering world.”

Diploma of Ministry: New pathway in Innovation and Pioneering

A new pathway in the Diploma of Ministry will provide a comprehensive foundation in principles and practices of ministries of innovation and social entrepreneurship shaped by a Christian commitment.

The Diploma of Ministry is nested within the Bachelor of Ministry for those who wish to continue their study. This new pathway would be ideally suited for those wanting to transition to Bachelor of Ministry Practice Stream.

The Diploma of Ministry general structure is 8 units, of which 4 are core and 4 are elective. In this pathway students complete 6 required units (including the four core) and 2 optional units. The Diploma can be completed in one year of full-time study, or part-time equivalent study.

Required units

MINS1002 Introducing the Scriptures*

This unit provides an overview of the OT and NT writings, exploring major theological themes (one being missio Dei). Students in this pathway would have available an assignment focused on pioneering in Biblical texts.

MINS1305 Reading Cultures*

Key themes in this unit include understanding communities, global cultures, and ministry models. Students would have available an assignment focused on pioneering in a new mission.

MINS1601 Spirituality for 21st Century Disciples*

This units assists students to develop the ability to articulate biblical, spiritual and ethical bases for Christian discipleship and reflect on application of these in our own life and others.

MINS1510 Introduction to Formation for Ministry*

In this unit students explore the nature and practice of Christian formation, including learning styles, self-assessment, commitment to ethical practice, to develop an understanding of identity in relation to taking on professional role in ministry and the implications for vocation, faith and life.

MINS23xx Innovation as Pioneering

This new unit explores questions such as: Who is a pioneer? What are their practices? How do they sustain their life? (for more, see here).

MINS2518 Supervised Field Education 1

Students in this pathway would undertake SFE for experience in a pioneering context, either starting something or in observation.

Optional units

Two units chosen from the following:

MINS2318 Mission Then, Mission Now

MINS2314 The Theology of Jesus Christ, Word and Saviour

MINS3339 Missional Church Leadership

MINS2537 Theology and Practice of Chaplaincy

MINS2317 Guided Study in Innovation A

Each of these units gives students the opportunity to explore or reflect on themes relevant to innovation and pioneering:

  • Mission Then, Mission Now explores church history for mission lessons for today;
  • Theology of Jesus Christ explores Jesus with particular attention to boundary crossing;
  • Missional Church Leadership invites reflection on mission to Western cultures with particular attention to the local church’s participation;
  • Theology and Practice of Chaplaincy introduces students to practices, images and theological themes in a practical theology of chaplaincy.
  • Guided Study in Innovation A enables a focus on mission shaped ministry

Rationale for new Diploma pathway

We have, over the last few years, used the specialisation pathway in the Diploma to point to particular vocation paths within our suite of courses. A new pathway in innovation and pioneering continues this focus.

We have a BMin Practice Stream offering and the Diploma provides a clear entry pathway.

The Uniting Church have asked us to train pioneer leaders and this course meets this request.

In a diverse educational market, this continues one of the unique foci of Uniting College around leadership, mission and innovation.

Posted by steve at 12:57 PM

Friday, May 30, 2014

Urban Mission Exposure Melbourne June 5-14

Another new innovation at Uniting College …

Explore diverse approaches to ministry and mission as part of our exciting Melbourne Study Tour: Urban Mission Exposure. Led by dynamic pastor, Rev Mark Reisson, you’ll be immersed in urban culture where you can participate in spiritual and discipleship practices, assess context-based new initiatives and reflect theologically on the emerging nature of cities as global cultural centres

Staying in inner-city Melbourne, you will experience the pulse of city and encounter a huge variety of models of ministry and mission, including churches, mission organisations, and innovative projects.This unique opportunity can be studied at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.

The cost is $550, which includes all accommodation and transfers and you’ll need to make your own way to Melbourne. Standard tuition fees apply (FEEhelp and Studyassist available).

Find out more by phoning Student Services on 8416 8400 or visiting on Facebook.

Rev Mark Reisson is the Coordinator for Mission and Community Engagement with Churches of Christ in SA and NT, coordinates Surrender Conference in SA and is an adjunct faculty member of the Adelaide College of Divinity.

Posted by steve at 01:15 PM

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Coordinator

Uniting College exists to develop life-long disciples and effective leaders for a healthy, missional church, who are passionate, Christ-centred, highly skilled and mission-orientated practitioners. We offer a range of ways to learn and grow as a person and as a leader; through accredited course providers’ Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University and also through non-accredited courses for the Uniting Church.

The newly created Ministry of Pastor position, Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Coordinator, has become available within the Vocational Education & Training (VET) area, which will form part of a committed team offering relational and efficient service in a tertiary education environment.

The Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Coordinator will work closely with the Uniting College faculty and staff, staff of Adelaide College of Divinity, and the students of the Uniting College. This diverse position will be responsible for:

– Planning and overseeing the delivery of CALD VET training
– Liaising with ethnic Christian Communities in South Australia
– Student support as required

The successful applicant will need to have (or be working towards) a vocational or higher education qualification in education, social sciences, psychology or theology, coupled with experience in a Christian education environment with people of CALD backgrounds. A strong commitment to support the fulfilment of the purposes of the Uniting College, is essential to the success of this position.

A Position Description / Person Specification is available by contacting the Human Resources department on humanresources at sa dot uca dot org dot au or 8236 4234 or 8236 4278.

Application close date: 9 June 2014 at 5.00PM

Classification: Part Time Fixed Term

Tertiary Education Environment
Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Fixed term 12 month contract (0.2FTE)

Note: In a tight financial climate, this role has emerged from securing of trust funding. Like other recent Co-ordinator appointments (Chaplaincy, Big Year Out), this is an innovation that is hoped will continue beyond the initial fixed term, but to do so requires the establishing a student cohort.

Posted by steve at 10:13 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2014

team re-building

Teams are never stable. First, teams are made up of people. People change, growth and morph. They feel more involved or less involved, more empowered or less empowered.  Second, teams are made up of people who come and go. As a result, any “team work” is always for the moment. Vital, important.

But healthy teams over time need to work on processes that spiral, rather than process that are linear. They need to find ways to go over ground that is worn, yet in ways that are fresh.

At Uniting College, we’re in a time of rapid team building. We’ve had two new staff join us in the last three weeks, five in the last nine months. Over half of the team of 14 are new to College since I became Principal less than two years ago.

Today I introduced the following process in team re-building.

First, I noted that we had a set of team values. These sit in our photocopy room. They began life among us back in August 2012. That meant, I observed, that practically a good number in our team were now new to these values.

Second, I divided the team into pairs. Each pair was chosen, with an “old-timer”, someone who was there in August 2012, and a “new-timer,” a person who has joined the team in time since.

Third, I invited the pairs to go for a walk or find a couch or share a cup of tea. And to ask each other the following four questions.

  • The “oldtimer” is to be asked – What were the processes and events by which these values emerged? How did it feel?
  • The “newtimer” is then asked – What word or phrase or concept strikes you?
  • Mutual question – What would it be like to be in a team that lived like this?
  • Mutual question – We are a different team now than in 2012. Is there anything we might need to add or delete or modify?

Fourth, each pair was invited to take notes. We will return to these notes next week.

In the meantime, dotted around the room, was a buzz of conversation.  Stories were told, history recalled, values engaged, being team now considered.  It was a team re-building.

Posted by steve at 10:45 PM

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2000 km round trip

Currently we are collecting stories of Uniting College students. They are quite inspiring – each so different, each so joyous in the education and formation they participated in. Here for instance is Jo Smalbill. Not having studied for 35 years, Jo is now Frontier Services Patrol minister for Cobar/Nyngan NSW. Last week Jo travelled 2,000 km to attend Graduation and be awarded her Bachelor of Ministry. 2000 km. I kid you not! I love the fact that we could train her remote, through use of distance education and intensives, and in turn, she has grown into a ministry that is rural and remote. (Why on earth we would design education systems in Colleges that would expect a rural person with a passion for rural ministry to move to an urban setting to study and practise ministry in an urban context is beyond me).

I really appreciated the fact that the college tailored my course to allow for the flexibility in study, enabling me to return home to my husband and receive the Field Education required for rural ministry. The Macquarie Darling Presbytery of NSW was also thrilled at the level of co-operation from the college.

And her conclusion –

While studying at theological college, I was constantly reminded that we all have gifts and abilities that are unique to us and it is our responsibility to use them. God will use all of our combined gifts and abilities to build strong leaders for our communities so that the Uniting Church has a future and continues to fulfil his plan.

Jo’s full story is here, with more stories of other students here. For pictures of Jo’s ordination see here and for an Advent inspired poem about rural donkeys, see here.

Posted by steve at 09:33 PM

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

year of the student

It is a new term this week at Uniting College, so to help focus the team, I placed a visual reminder on all the doors down the corridor.

Titled Year of the student, with a picture of 6 different shoes, it is a reminder of work we did as a team at a beginning of year retreat. Last year was effectively a Year of Compliance for us as a team, with multiple government registration processes. We passed all with flying colours, but the danger was we remained in an administrative mindset.

So I suggested that this 2014 year we make the Year of the Student. One of our team found multiple pictures of shoes. We each chose a pair and invited ourselves to imagine being a student. A case study, of arriving late to a first class, helped ground us in our “student” shoes. A bit of feedback from first time students kept us honest. From there, we brainstormed what we could do to focus on student experience. It was a great exercise.

So with a new term, it was time to remind us all of what we dreamed at the start of the year. And to prepare us for some evaluation at our team meeting on Thursday.

Posted by steve at 02:40 PM

Monday, April 07, 2014

Calabashes, Wild Ox, U2, Virgins and Trauma

Flinders University produces a glossy publication to highlight research outputs within Humanities Faculty. It is produced by the Flinders Institute for Research in the Humanities, which unites humanities-based researchers engaged in creative and reflective investigations of culture and thought. The Department of Theology (which is Uniting College) has a one page write up in their latest publication, under the title “Calabashes, Wild Ox, U2, Virgins and Trauma.”

These words don’t usually occur together and make little sense when grouped. But as an overview of research within the Department of Theology in 2013, they are a great indication of the breadth of our focus and interests … Research in Theology is diverse and wide-ranging.

Posted by steve at 11:17 PM

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beyond Education: Exploring a Theology of the Church’s Theological Formation

I’m in Melbourne today and tomorrow as part of Beyond Education: Exploring a Theology of the Church’s Theological Formation, sponsored by the Uniting Church’s Centre for Theology and Ministry and the University of Divinity. The aim is to try and construct a theology of theological education. On Saturday I’m presenting a paper: Theological education in leadership formation (abstract here)

That has been the focus for much of my week. As part of my research, I compared our current 2014 Bachelor of Ministry degree, with our 2009 Bachelor of Ministry degree. Their have been significant changes, as this table shows

In other words, in 2009, we changed our name, from Parkin Wesley College to Uniting College for Leadership and Theology. Sometimes changes in name are simply cosmetic, a rebranding in which the ingredients remain the same. Looking at the Bachelor of Ministry, we see significant change, including

  • A new stream structure that has brought to the fore leadership and formation.
  • More options through specialisations.
  • Space created for formation (4 new topics in SFE and Integration) through the change of 7 topics (in theology, Bible and Pastoral care) from compulsory to optional
  • New topics written especially in leadership and Discipleship and Christian Education
  • Opportunity for “have a go” innovation through BMin practice, with increased SFE and the use of context as primary.

In the second half of my paper I will then ask whether these changes suggest it is either theological education
or
leadership formation. Or using the work of cultural theorist Mieke Bal (Anti-Covenant) and theologian Graham Ward (Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice), this allows theological education in leadership formation.

Posted by steve at 10:06 AM