News & Events

Semester 1 Retreat
12 April 2019

At ALC, there is more to student life than just attending classes. Each Semester, on-campus students and lecturing staff venture off-campus for a time of spiritual retreat. This is a time for quiet uninterrupted reflection—a time for focussing on God’s word and a time for reconnecting with God in prayer.

The first retreat of the academic year took place in April. Students Mitchell Kitson and Catherine Ho have provided the following reflections.


On Wednesday 3 April, staff and on-campus students attended the ALC Retreat for Semester One which was hosted by Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Birdwood. The day was divided into three sessions and concluded with a full Holy Communion service lead by Pastor Tom Pietsch and Dr Stephen Hultgren. The theme of the day was Hymns of the passion of Christ.

The day was opened by a devotional thought from Dr Andrew Pfeiffer and a welcome from Holy Cross Pastor, David Kuss, who made himself available for private confession and absolution throughout the morning. Then followed the first session, which was left open for students and staff to have some self-guided reflection time on a list of provided Bible texts and hymns. (The Holy Cross campus lends itself to these kinds of activities, with a beautiful 19th century church building, large cemetery and the Torrens River just across the road, to find a quiet space to reflect in.)

After morning tea, Pastor Stephen van der Hoek, who had joined staff and students for the day, led a session on Lenten hymns. He walked through the stages of the passion narrative by reading from the Gospel accounts and then playing a related hymn which he then explained. This was a very informative and enjoyable session which gave all involved a good introduction to the deep insights that the hymns of the Church give us.

After a hearty German lunch of bread rolls, ham, salad and sauerkraut kindly provided by Holy Cross, session three was a shorter session allowing time to reflect and prepare for the concluding Holy Communion service which began at 2pm. Dr Hultgren preached on the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

On behalf of the students and staff, I would like to thank Holy Cross for allowing us to use their facilities and for their excellent catering – I heard plenty of appreciative comments from everyone throughout the day. Thank you also to Pastor David Kuss for making himself available, Pastor Stephen van der Hoek for teaching us and playing the organ for our service, as well as all of those from ALC who helped to organise various aspects of the day. It was another excellent retreat, offering something new to take away for everyone and allowing time in the midst of a busy semester to reflect on the Word and journey through Lent together.

by Mitchell Kitson

April 3, 2019 was the day of the ALC retreat, and it marked a significant day in my life.

It was a sunny, lovely day. The worship took place in a garden of Birdwood Lutheran Church in the Adelaide Hills. During the time of worship, a cool breeze touched my cheek and my mind flashed to the Gospel (Matthew 26:36-46): ‘Gethsemane’, where Jesus was betrayed by Judas, and the other disciples deserted Him when arrested by the Roman soldiers. A strong sense of accusation arose to remind me how wicked and sinful human beings are.

As the worship music went on, I saw Jesus was entering into Jerusalem and the crowd shouted ‘Hosanna, Hosanna’. Then immediately, the same voice of the triumphal shouting changed to ‘crucify, crucify’ when Jesus was with Pilate. Soon another picture appeared of Jesus carrying the cross on the road headed to Golgotha which bittered my spirit. 

After the worship, we had a remarkable sermon about the fatherly heart; the loving father longing for the return of the prodigal son. The great father received the repenting son with no condemnation but granted him honour. The worship and the sermon was woven so beautifully to deliver the message of our sinful wicked nature and the unconditional great love and forgiveness of the Father.

The whole event filled me with a great sense of the presence of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what we have done, His love never ceases towards us. My heart instantly cried out, “How great are you, my Lord? How deep is your love to us?” The truth is His great love has been revealed to us on the cross; His profound love is beyond our imagination and what we asked for.

I am so grateful that I could take part in this retreat. Thank you to those who organised and prepared for this event that we could, in this season, again contemplate Jesus’ great love and His death for our sins.

by Catherine Ho