Associate Professor Lisa Schmidt was installed as Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) Executive Director on 10 February by LCA Bishop John Henderson at Bethlehem Lutheran Church Adelaide.
Assoc Prof Schmidt is the fourth national director for LEA, after Mr Stephen Rudolph, who retired in 2018, the late Dr Adrienne Jericho and Pastor Tom Reuther. A member of LEA’s Board of Directors from 2013 to 2018, she is the first woman to hold the post.
Bishop Henderson said LEA was ‘committed to the mission and ministry of the Lutheran Church of Australia through supporting quality, Christ-centred education’. He called on LCA members to encourage Assoc Prof Schmidt in her new role. ‘Pray for her, honour and support her, and work peacefully together with her’, he said.
LEA Board Chair Brett Hausler and Regional Directors John Proeve, Julian Denholm and Dennis Mulherin gave greetings after the installation, while students from Calvary Lutheran Primary School Morphett Vale in suburban Adelaide and Navigator College Port Lincoln on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula welcomed Assoc Prof Schmidt in their own words.
Chase, aged 8, said: ‘On behalf of all students in Lutheran schools I would like to welcome you to Lutheran education. I pray it’s not too hard being the boss of everyone. May God bless you as you support all schools and early childhood centres.’
Pastor Thomas Bohmert, Senior Chaplain at St Peters Lutheran College Indooroopilly Queensland and a member of the LEA Board, preached at the installation service on Matthew 17:1–9, the transfiguration of Jesus.
Drawing on the text, Pastor Bohmert described Assoc Prof Schmidt’s installation as ‘a mountain top experience’. And while he said everyday work and life would contain challenges, it was important not to be discouraged.
‘Lisa … as you fill this role and go from here, don’t forget the mountain top’, he said. ‘Come back often to meet with your Lord, to hear his words of comfort and encouragement, to be fed and strengthened, to connect with the people whom you are part of, to celebrate. Lisa, fear not! Go from here with the knowledge that Christ is with you, that we are with you, and that together we don’t have to cling to the mountain tops, but can enter the valleys confidently, face the crosses patiently and move forward in hope faithfully.’
Assoc Prof Schmidt, who formerly was the Dean (Education) for the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in South Australia, said making her vow of service during the installation had confirmed for her that the role was ‘a vocation, not a job’.
‘It also affirmed for me that call I had felt when I decided to apply for the position’, she said. ‘And something that I had already been stunned by was affirmed again … just how many people are praying for me. So I’m humbled by that because I feel deeply supported.
‘I guess the overwhelming message of the installation was, “you’ve got some very big challenges”, and that’s always going to be the nature of the role because the world keeps changing. But we are supported by each other and by God, and so it becomes doable.’