Thursday, June 20, 2013

pastoral studies suite: did “we” do this?

One of my learnings at the moment, is how to shift from I to we. In other words, how innovation and change can emerge from groups, rather than individuals – on how to create communities that can look at each other and go “we did this.”

Here’s a marker to reflect on:

It is a hospital bed that sits in the middle of what is becoming a pastoral training suite. With the advent of the new Diploma of Ministry in Chaplaincy (for more see here and here), here at Uniting College, along with other pastoral teaching and training courses, we thought it appropriate to establish a room suitably equipped for pastoral training purposes. The room is in the process of being equipped with various furnishings and healthcare equipment to create a variety of pastoral contexts relevant to contemporary chaplaincy and other pastoral ministries. The contexts being developed include a hospital bedroom, an aged care living room, a disability ramp and wheelchair, and a schoolroom setting and possibly a prison visiting room. These contexts will enable students to envision the lived pastoral context with significant clarity. Students will, for example, be filmed practising and reviewing their pastoral craft in one of the created contexts. In an small room next door we are creating a discrete worship space to symbolise the sense in which the chaplain / pastoral practitioner takes their liturgical and sacramental resources with them into their pastoral context.

So how did this happen?

This innovation began with our Old Testament lecturer, who having recently spoken to Chaplains in South Australia, wondered if we as a College could better resource then. This question was explored in a small group within our team, workshopping creative ways to respond to our funding challenges. (Sometimes challenges can generate creativity.) From that group emerged a creative solution – a Diploma of Ministry in (chaplaincy/leadership) that already existed within our course structures.

As I heard the group share the idea, I wondered if this innovation could be strengthened by resourcing. I took a funding proposal to our Board, as an entrepreneurial experiment. They agreed and a person, was appointed to be a chaplaincy Co–ordinator.

When the idea of the new Diploma of Ministry was promoted at Synod, a former lecturer of the college mentioned to me their dream of a “pastoral suite.”

I mentioned the dream to the new Chaplaincy co-ordinator and suggested he connect with our Campus manager about the logistics. She found a space and put a funding bid to the campus resources board for painting. I also suggested the new Chaplaincy co-ordinator seek to connect by asking agencies for furniture, as a way of decreasing our costs, but more importantly promoting our initiative and building connections. He did. As a result, we’ve been given hospital bed, wheelchair, walker. We are aiming for a public launch in a few months, in which we can invite these agencies to see the result!

In sum, within the space of some eight months, we have a pastoral suite, a new staff person, a clarified Diploma, a more diverse student body, increased connections with agencies, a marketing niche and a branding message that says we innovate not just for leaders in large churches, but also for chaplains in agencies.

Looking back, there are things I might have done differently. But it stands as an intriguing leadership marker. “We did this” – an OT lecturer, a small group, a new Chaplaincy co-ordinator, a “dreamer” lecturer, a Principal as connector, a Campus Manager. Very different gifts mixes and roles, each essential, to innovation.

PS This was a story I shared at the Innovation that Engages Upgrade, as a way of introducing the National Church Life Survey Lead with your strengths insights.

Posted by steve at 08:32 PM


  1. That is awesome!!!!! I love that idea it adds so much to study.
    Uni SA has a social work studio, and that was really cool set up as a living room and also as an office.

    Comment by Nicole Mugford — June 20, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

  2. Crikey, my first reflection on the “marker” is that it looks like an execution chamber replete with lethal injection table …

    Comment by Kim Fabricius — June 20, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

  3. wow Kim, that’s a fascinating set of cultural filter and experiences you bring to the viewing exercise,


    Comment by steve — June 21, 2013 @ 12:03 am

  4. I just love how the painters are using the bed as a place for their paint!


    Comment by steve — June 21, 2013 @ 12:05 am

  5. Loungeroom / aged care living room suite going in soon

    Comment by Trevor W — June 21, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  6. Anyone with art they would be prepared to have hang in the room for a while?
    The theme is Incarnation.
    Contact me:

    Comment by Trevor W — June 21, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

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