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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dispersed Lent Journal Project 2014 at distance

One of the dispersed Lent Journals 2014 returned today. It has been travelling by post, moving around rural South Australia, among our distance students. It was a great joy to see it return, complete with post paid bag as students decided to pay themselves rather than let College pay.

The story behind the Dispersed Lent Journal Project 2014 is that we at 34 Brooklyn Park are a dispersed community – students, staff, teachers; post-graduates, under-graduates; studying for audit and for credit; face to face and distance.

At the start of Lent, four journals were released into the community – in lectures, in library, in student common room. Folk are invited to journal what Lent means to them, and pass it onto another in the community. (Full description here). We wanted a way to connect our dispersed, mobile community.

Distance students were keen to participate and here is one now returning after being posted around South Australia. Which means it is now able to be handed onto another student. Connections are being created among the dispersed, spirituality nurtured and nourished among those who gather and scatter.

Posted by steve at 08:44 PM

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

we’re hiring: Business manager

With the retirement of Peter Gunn, our Educational Resources Manager, we at Uniting College are looking for a Business Manager (full-time, permanent). This is a vital role in helping us manage forward the many changes we are making and undergoing. So if you know someone with exceptional business and financial management skills, a strong commitment to the vision of Uniting College and an ability to be an integral part of a committed team offering relational and efficient service in a tertiary education environment, then please let them know …

Description:

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.

If you consider you have exceptional business and financial management skills, coupled with a strong commitment to supporting the fulfilment of the purposes of the Uniting College, then this could be the position for you. This position is an integral part of a committed team offering relational and efficient service in a tertiary education environment.

The Business Manager will work closely with the Uniting College faculty and staff, Executive Officer and staff of Adelaide College of Divinity, and the Finance Management team at the Uniting Church SA Synod Office. This diverse and challenging position will be responsible for strategic business planning and innovation of the Uniting College and for building collaborative business relationships with other education providers.

The successful applicant will need to have demonstrated experience in the management of staff. Overseeing and leading the transition of the development of systems, processes and resources to support faculty in the delivery of courses, is crucial to the success of this position.

A degree qualification in Business, Accounting or other related discipline, together with a commitment and participation within a Christian congregation or faith community, are essential criteria.

A Position Description / Person Specification is available here or by contacting the Human Resources department on 8236 4234 or 8236 4278.

Please forward applications addressing the selection criteria of the Position Description / Person Specification to humanresources at sa dot uca dot org dot au by no later than 4pm Monday April 7, 2014.

Posted by steve at 01:15 PM

Friday, March 21, 2014

pioneering a pioneering week

It’s been an intensely busy, but very productive week.

We’ve had Dave Male from the UK with us. Each evening we’ve engaged in storytelling around pioneering. Four folk have told local stories – one of early cross-cultural encounter in Australia, one of community gardens and how they change church, one of participation of individuals in new forms of church, one of transitions. Each has been videod. Around each story was woven group processes to deepen encounter. This included creative worship (like St Patrick on St Patricks Day) and the perspectives of Dave and Heather Male.

During the day, Dave Male has been working with us on developing material for a distance course. This includes 6 key modules needed for pioneering, accompanied by a range of resources (readings, video grabs of Dave Male, powerpoint, stories). The 4 local stories will add richness, all enhanced by the soundbite video clips and quotes we’ve been grabbing all week from those who participated in the evening sessions.

The result is that we’ve been able to develop what will be an online Pioneering topic that will be available in both our Diploma and Bachelor of Ministry.

It also makes possible a Diploma of Ministry in Pioneering, a one year equivalent period of study, that can be done full-time or part-time, face to face or by distance. A Diploma neatly integrates into the Bachelor of Ministry for folk who want to study further. But not everyone wants to do three years, so a one year Diploma, or a one semester topic, is an important addition to our training options as a College.

As Dave commented after we’d shown him the syllabus -

“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.”

There is still some work to put all this together as a finished product but it’s been a very productive week.

Posted by steve at 07:10 PM

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Happy 5th birthday Uniting College

We celebrated Uniting College being five at Presbytery Synod last night. Some thought it was a milestone worth a cake.

As well as the cake, we also provided 400 individual cup cakes for supper, all with our logo.

Before the cake and candles, there was a bit of an introduction to the journey of this five year old. It was laced with prayer; a highlight of being one, of being two, of being three etc, followed by an audience response, including rifting off a Paul Kelly song.

Here’s the liturgical responses

synod feb 2014

And for those interested, here’s the full script … (more…)

Posted by steve at 08:07 AM