The fifth Australian Conference on Lutheran Education (ACLE5), held this year at the Adelaide Convention Centre, was the biggest ever. The headcount was 1127, which was nearly triple that of the first ACLE held in 1999.
ACLE attracts leaders, educators, governors and guests from across Australia and also overseas. This year the conference welcomed 20 international guests: from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the USA.
Teachers in Lutheran schools are an integral part of the mission and ministry within their school community. In their classrooms and staffrooms they confront the realities of post-Christian Australia and the spiritual, moral and professional challenges posed by pluralism and multiculturalism.
ACLE stretches and encourages participants professionally, personally and spiritually, as well as, of course, providing opportunities to share the highs and lows of their calling with people who understand, and develop camaraderie and support networks in a relaxed setting.
Each day the ACLE5 program focused on one part of the triangular theme People.Planet.Purpose, which was cleverly subtitled Edu-Reformation (People), Eco-Reformation (Planet) and Ego-Reformation (Purpose).
As the sub-titles indicate, Reformation was the foundation of the theme. Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) Executive Director Stephen Rudolph, elaborates: ‘ACLE began with worship, which included a depiction of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses. It ended with Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber [a guest from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America] exploring our purpose under the topic ‘500 years of Lutheranism, our identity and faith’.
‘She gave participants a thoroughly engaging and sharp reminder about Lutheran theology, its origins and its relevance in today’s society, particularly for educators in Lutheran schools.’
A highlight of ‘Planet’ day was the launch of LEA’s Earthcare Charter. Born out of requests from Lutheran school leaders for guidance as educators and schools celebrate and care for our planet, LEA produced a paper on caring for creation. Out of that came the concept for the Lutheran Education Earthcare Charter.
Reflecting on the ACLE5 experience, one teacher said the highlight was ‘the opportunity to catch up with colleagues, to be reminded of why I accepted the call as a teacher in a Lutheran school’. Another said the best parts were, ‘Lutheran educators united together in celebrating the Reformation and Lutheran education, and receiving a complimentary ACLE scarf to further define unity in our mission and ministry’.
Papers from some of the keynote speakers and other presenters can be found on the ACLE5 website.