News Archive

Principal’s report to 2010 ALC graduation ceremony
7 December 2010

After acknowledging that Concordia College is on the land of the Kaurna people who have been custodians of the area for thousands of years, Pastor John Henderson presented his 2010 report to the ALC graduation ceremony.

Pastor John Henderson address the graduation assembly

Pastor John Henderson addresses the graduation assembly

Rev Dr Michael Semmler, President of the Church
Pastor David Gogoll, Chair of the Board of Directors
Directors of the Board of Directors and Academic Board
Graduates and students
ALC teaching and support staff
Emeriti teachers of the College
Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the ALC 2010 Graduation Ceremony.

A quick biblical search will reveal that formal theological education is mentioned only once in the New Testament, when Paul recounts his education ‘at the feet of Gamaliel’ in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3). It is the opening line of his defence when arrested in the Temple for stirring people up against the law and bringing Greeks into the holy place.

Paul quotes his theological education as evidence that he knows his stuff, and has earned the right to speak. For him, however, it was only the beginning, a prelude to meeting Jesus, conversion, and the divine call to service and ministry.

Australian Lutheran College is a prelude act in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ through his Church today. We establish credentials. We ensure the reading of Scripture and the learning of Christian faith and tradition. We develop intellectual, practical, and personal engagement with the Word, the world, and the purposes of God.

To this end, ALC works to provide the most effective education it can, using the means available to us, so that students may sit at the feet of Jesus, just as Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel. As Jesus used the world around him as his classroom, so we learn from what God has done, and is doing, in our lives and our world.

In 2010 ALC has continued to pursue the goal of providing and facilitating Lutheran theologically-based educational services across all streams of post-secondary education. This is the vision set out in our 2009–2015 Strategic Plan. We have arrived at more than one major milestone along the path to this vision.

2010 has been the first year of operation of our new Academic Board, replacing the previous Academic Standards Advisory Committee. The new body oversees academic governance aligned to the ALC Strategic Plan. I express gratitude to the experts and academics who sit on this Board and look forward to their further contribution to the academic life and standards of ALC.

We have continued to develop and implement quality in theological Higher Education. We have done this as a Non Self Accrediting Institution, registered and accredited under State and Commonwealth regulations. In October we hosted a visit of the Audit Panel of the Australian Universities Quality Agency. We expect to receive the Definitive Final Draft of the Audit Report next week. Early indications are that the report finds us in a good state of health, with productive work behind us, and fruitful work to go on with. We will be taking the Audit Report fully into account as we further develop educational praxis in our institution.

While engaged in the audit process, ALC also continued with an application to the Melbourne College of Divinity, to become a Recognised Teaching Institution. This has been in process for a number of years, and represents a major step in the ALC plan. This status will position ALC to remain a credible Lutheran provider of theological Higher Education for the longer term. Students, staff, and friends of ALC are invited to attend a special ceremony in our chapel this Thursday at 10:25am, when ALC will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the MCD.

Secondly, during 2010, through a partnership with Delta Ministries, ALC introduced Vocational Education and Training to its mix of offerings. People are starting to hear about Grassroots Training as an operational arm of ALC. Several LCA departments and boards have shown enthusiasm for the opportunity this presents. In 2011 we will continue to consolidate this initiative, and celebrate and explore the potential and intricacies this introduces to our community and our service to the church.

ALC is resolved to respond with enthusiasm, energy, and in a coordinated way, to the expressed needs and requests of the church we serve. We also intend, in the coming year, to scope and develop a research centre for theological Higher Education, another strategy in the plan.

I acknowledge here all the staff members who work tirelessly to maintain the multiple services of the College and meet the many obligations it faces, often on short time frames. This is no mean feat given our complex and demanding environment, and the number of changes currently underway.

Among those departing in 2010 were Ms Ursula Franck, who led ALC through the intricacies of registration and accreditation as a Higher Education Provider, and Ms Juanita Lieschke, who served for 22 years, ultimately as our registrar. We honour and thank them for their skills, contribution, and friendships among us.

In advance of their imminent retirements, I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the services of three of our senior teachers: Dr Meryl Jennings, Dr Greg Lockwood, and Dr Malcolm Bartsch. These are three experienced and professional teachers and leaders who will be sincerely missed. Their combined service to ALC totals over 40 years. We are grateful that their expertise will continue, however, through service as sessional lecturers and through recognition as emeriti of ALC.

Plans for the future are always undertaken with conscious and grateful appreciation for the solid work of those who have gone before us. In that spirit, this year we have celebrated the 50 year jubilee of the Löhe Memorial Library, opened on 2 October 1960. Thousands of students have now explored its expanding contents. The vision and enterprise of those who nurtured it into existence was to develop a first rate theological library, prominent amongst its peers in Australia. We believe that vision has been, and is continuing to be, achieved. It is a modern professional library which offers a sophisticated focus on information literacy, with growing online and multimedia resources, and dedicated staff who have adapted well to institutional and technological change.

The existence of ALC, and the fulfilment of its purpose, is dependent on the ongoing support and commitment of the Lutheran Church of Australia. We are not an independent theological school, and we do not pursue education as an end in itself. We pursue it in the cause of service to Christ and the church. I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the Church, Dr Mike Semmler, the members of the College of Presidents, and the General Church Council, for their unwavering support and commitment to ALC.

Many people do not realise that the LCA commits around ⅓ of its operational budget to theological education. This subsidy, and the generous donations of many church members, enables us to keep the classrooms open. Budgets are never in surplus, and student fees, boarding, and other sources of income would not nearly be sufficient on their own to make ends meet. The ministries of the LCA, including its schools and aged care centres, are also the destinations of most of our graduates. I would like to sincerely thank all those involved, in one way or another, for your ongoing support, and your encouragement to us in meeting the challenges that still lie ahead. I also acknowledge the long standing relationship between ALC and the former Director of Lutheran Education Australia, Dr Adrienne Jericho, whose sudden death we still grieve.

I will end with a word to and about our students, the majority of whom study off campus. You are women and men of extraordinary calibre and potential, and you have willingly undertaken the study of sacred theology to explore and expand your calling. Your study will not usually result in immediate personal profit, but equip you for ongoing ministry and service. I stand in awe of your desire and commitment to be part of this great adventure of faith. The church needs you, the world needs you, and I pray that God may give you strength and courage wherever and whenever you need it. I pray that, when you are called to give account of your faith, what you have learned and experienced at ALC will stand you in good stead as you make your good confession.

Pastor John Henderson

Pastor John Henderson

I offer my warm congratulations to today’s graduands, those of you who are here, and those who are unable to be present.

Throughout this year it has been a privilege for me to serve this community as Principal. Thank you to everybody—students, families, staff, church, supporters, and friends, for all your contributions, for being part of who we are, and for believing in what we do and who we can be in Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Pastor John Henderson

Updated: 07/12/2010 [1.00]