Of approximately 40,000 students attending Australian Lutheran schools last year, only 13 per cent identified as Lutheran. 49 per cent were members of other Christian churches, and 38 per cent identified as ‘other’. More than ever before, our schools are mission fields in our own backyards.
Chaplains have a special chance to share life with young people whose identities and beliefs are still forming.
Rachael Stelzer, Junior School Chaplain at Redeemer Lutheran College at Rochedale, Queensland, says, ‘It is my joy and my challenge to present the timeless truths of God’s love and welcome to children from many cultural, language, faith and family backgrounds. Sometimes I just need to find the right language.’
For Adam Yeager, being a lay chaplain is wild and varied: ‘Whether it is kicking a footy with Year 6 boys, tackling questions about science, history, philosophy and theology with Year 12s or supporting staff through seasons of grief and doubt, chaplaincy is rarely easy and never boring’.
‘A school chaplain can be a theologian, a counsellor, an administrator, an executive, a coach, a mentor or whatever we are needed to be.’
Being a Christian chaplain in a government school can be even more challenging, as it means you can’t explicitly preach the good news of Jesus to students. But chaplains can always be an example of Christ’s love and light to the young people they serve.
Sharon Salomon (pictured above) has been a chaplain in state schools in Queensland for 11 years. ‘I’m not someone who can really share the gospel [in words]; I do better trying to be the person who lives it. Showing [God’s] love … kids pick that up.’
- Visit www.lca.org.au/spread-the-word to find promotional materials (bulletin inserts, A5 flyers, PowerPoint slides and social media posts) to help you spread the word about our Story of the Week.
- Read the full Story of the Week and other stories like it in The Lutheran. 11 editions/year. Only $44 (Aust), $46 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email firstname.lastname@example.org phone 08 8360 7270