In Workplace Health and Safety terms, few people would consider the study of theology a particularly risky business, but the Uniting Church Moderator for South Australia, Dr Deirdre Palmer, sees things differently.
‘In our theological education, we encounter a God who invites us into a different way of seeing the world, a God who invites us beyond our own self-interests to engage with others; a God who desires peace with justice for all people; a God who challenges our materialistic and individualistic cultural values. A God who invites us to see all people as deeply loved by God and of infinite value’, she told the congregation for the first University of Divinity-Australian Lutheran College (UD-ALC) graduation ceremony to be held outside of Melbourne.
‘I hope that it will be, as you risk the journey of walking alongside people, sharing in their lives, encouraging them to explore faith and meaning-making, that you will draw from the deep well of the Christian faith to inform and bring wisdom to the insights you may offer into that space’, Dr Palmer told graduates.
Adelaide’s Bethlehem Lutheran Church was the venue for the graduation ceremony for more than 40 students completing studies at ALC, who were presented to University of Divinity Chancellor Dr Graeme Blackman. The ceremony was held on Friday, 5 December, in the presence of UD faculty from three of its ten colleges located in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
This ceremony was preceded two weeks earlier, on Friday, 21 November, by the ALC Valedictory and Conferral of Awards ceremony, held at Zion Lutheran Church, Glynde SA. At this ceremony, graduating students entering or already serving in Lutheran schools and congregations as teachers, pastors or lay workers were presented with vocational certificates.
ALC Principal Rev James Winderlich reminded the congregation that they were gathered to ‘witness and celebrate prayers heard and promises kept’ in the lives of valedictorians. ‘We celebrate God’s faithfulness to our church community’, he said.
‘We are called together by the God who gathers. We are gathered to collectively see God, so that we will bear witness to what we see. G K Chesterton said, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. The vision of God and the faith that it creates in us is our soul. Our witness is the passing of that soul from one generation to the other. All of this happens in and through the eternal community of the church, in the living body of Jesus Christ.’
For the first time in ALC history, students who completed the formation program of the Lutheran Strand in Queensland (delivered in partnership with Australian Catholic University) received their certificates in a ceremony in Queensland, held at Living Faith Lutheran Church, Murrumba Downs, on Sunday, 30 November.