News Archive

Principal's report to 2011 Graduation Ceremony
5 December 2011

I acknowledge that we are meeting on the land of the Kaurna people who have been custodians of this area for thousands of years.

Friends of Australian Lutheran College

Students and Graduates
ALC teaching and support staff
Emeriti teachers of the College
Members of the Academic Board
Directors of the Board
Professor Paul Beirne, Dean of the Melbourne College of Divinity
Pastor David Gogoll, Chair of the Board of Directors
Rev Dr Michael Semmler, President of the Church
Ladies and gentlemen:

If you have studied or worked at any of these institutions, please stand and remain standing as you are able:

Concordia or Immanuel Seminaries…
Luther Seminary…
Lutheran Teachers College…
Australian Lutheran College…
Any school or college of the LCA…

Please, give each other a round of applause.
Thank you – you can resume your seats.

What an encouragement you are! What wealth is invested in this room!
You are a treasure and a gift, an inheritance that makes our future real.
Never underestimate what you can do in to build that future.
It is in our hands.
What we have learned, and what we do with it, will make a difference to us, to the church, and to the world. Let it be a difference for good.
This is our responsibility as individuals, and our responsibility as a community.
This is who we are and what we still do at Australian Lutheran College.

We are shaping tomorrow’s pastors, teachers, and church workers who will think imaginatively about issues that affect all of life in the church and the world. Together we are learning to think faithfully and vitally about life and faith in the light of biblical and church teaching, and to be effective spiritual leaders, educators and workers who bring life and renewal in the church and communities we serve.

This statement is not window dressing. It is our determination under Christ, and our commitment as the post-secondary education provider of the Lutheran Church of Australia. We celebrate the support and encouragement of our church, which next year will increase its already generous contribution to the finances of ALC to $1.3 million. This is outstanding on its own, and we are hugely grateful. Even more outstanding, however, is the membership of the church praying for this learning place, and encouraging us to go on, to grow, and to flourish.

Under our Strategic Plan, ALC’s horizons continue to expand.

For some years we have been a Higher Education Provider. Last year at this ceremony I invited attendees to mark our entry into the Melbourne College of Divinity. We are now a Recognised Teaching Institution of the MCD, and tonight I would like us to acknowledge the presence of the Dean of the MCD, Professor Paul Beirne. Paul, we owe a debt of gratitude to you and the staff at MCD for the hard work and commitment you have shown in making ALC part of your learning community of colleges. We have joined you as you are journeying into Specialised University status as the MCD University of Divinity, which will happen very soon. We look forward to the increased engagement with theological reflection in the Australian community, and participation in the dialogue of listening, learning, and growing together in faith and knowledge.

Over the past 2 years ALC has made a strategic move into Vocational Education and Training, and we are a Partner Training Institute of the Australian College of Ministries. We have had to develop an appetite for change and risk. VET and Grassroots Training have connected us with many new students and learning opportunities. Next year we will continue to build this part of our operation, as our start-up partnership with Delta Ministries concludes. Vocational Education and Training subjects and qualifications will become the responsibility of the School of Theological Studies, and we are currently looking for an energetic person to lead that school. Grassroots Training will explore and expand learning opportunities for the people of the church, using the material, delivery modes, and styles that best meet their needs. One thing I regret for 2012 is that ALC will no longer be an agent for the Vetamorphus program in secondary schools. We pray, nevertheless, that the program will go well with its new agents and remain transformative in the lives of young people.

Developing an ALC Research Centre is important to our strategic direction. The Board of Directors will meet on the 5th December, where it will receive a progress report on this Centre. Our plan is to launch it during 2012. It will be vital in the educational health of ALC, and we hope a major contributor to health and well-being of the church at large. While we were quick to launch out into VET, we have been much steadier in launching the Research Centre. This reflects, to a large extent, the breadth and flexibility of our growing learning environment, as we seek to work with such a wide range of students.

Professional development and intentional lifelong learning are increasing features of the ministry landscape. ALC has long worked in this area, and it is positioning itself to meet the increasing demand from pastors, teachers, and church workers. Beyond the regular programs for which we are known:

  1. We have walked with the LCA as it has developed the Continuing Education Program for pastors, which is currently being implemented.
  2. We have willingly undertaken the training of Specific Ministry Pastors.
  3. With the Executive Officer of the Church we have rolled out the Twenty20 program for emerging leadership.
  4. We are enthusiastic about our partnership with Finke River Mission in bush training for indigenous pastors and evangelists in the Centre.
  5. We have accompanied the Board for Lay Ministry as it develops training for Lay Workers, and we want to do more of it.
  6. New horizons are opening up in our long term partnership with Lutheran Education Australia in teacher training, in-service training, post graduate qualifications, and leadership development.
  7. We are moving ahead with training plans for other boards and commissions of the church.
  8. We are privileged to be partners in the development of a chair in Lutheran Theology at Sabah Theological Seminary in Borneo.

All of this tells you that everyone at ALC has been working hard, often above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to the academic program, ALC staff work hard to deliver a high standard of service and pastoral care to students and boarders. We have a fantastic team as diverse as the students themselves. Teachers, professors, librarians, assessors, administrators, accountants, ICT, web developers, administrators, receptionists, cooks, managers, cleaners, maintenance guys, care giver – the list goes on of very special people to whom ALC is a place of ministry and service. I especially acknowledge people who have left the service of ALC over the last 12 months, or are about to leave:

Marilyn Pickett; Hannah Pietsch; Ines Goegan; Joy Wurst; Joan Ward; Amber Venner; Shannon Hood; Travis Doecke; Colleen Andretzke

In addition a number of wonderful volunteers have served at ALC in 2011.

Last year I acknowledged the imminent retirements of Drs Malcolm Bartsch, Greg Lockwood, and Meryl Jennings. Dr Bartsch has been replaced by Dr Merryn Ruwoldt; we are currently interviewing for Dr Lockwood’s replacement; and advertising for Dr Jennings’s replacement. Our measured pace in these academic replacements is the result of meeting the demands of the rapidly changing environment in which we find ourselves.

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. 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. 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. God give you strength and courage wherever and whenever you need it.

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

In 2011 it has been my privilege to serve this community as Principal. Thank you to our 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.

[John Henderson, Adelaide, 26 November 2011]