My Journey Starts: Researching Evangelical Baptist Colleges
My name is Scott Wigginton and I’m here for five months on sabbatical from Campbellsville University in the U.S. where I’m in my 15th year serving as Professor of Pastoral Ministries and Counselling and Associate Director of our Master’s program in Marriage and Family Therapy. My interest in Morling College initially began from researching evangelical Baptist colleges in Australia and discovering that Morling seemed like an excellent fit, both for my Christian worldview as well as my approach to counselling and ministry. Following up on that, I made contact with an Australian colleague named Ian Jones who put me in contact with Terry Kohler here at Morling.
For me, Australia has always been one of the most interesting places in the world. While in some ways it is quite different from the U.S., in others it is very similar. I love the natural good humour of the people, the beauty of the landscape, charming quirkiness of the language, and the diversity of the multi-cultural experience. As an “adventure guy,” I have delighted in the chance to explore and to have unusual experiences like the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb at twilight, exploring the Central Coast, bush walking with new mates, a Jeep trip in the Blue Mountains, Aussie Rules football, and upcoming trips to Uluru, Darwin, and Kakadu National Park. Who gets to hunt for kangaroos and pet koalas on an academic sabbatical or explore the remarkable beaches of Sydney? Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the iconic Opera House!
I will take quite a bit home from my time here at Morling College. The best part of my experience has been the relationships with colleagues and new friends. I teased our dean, Margaret Welch, when she picked me up at the airport that she was my best friend in Australia. Since we had only e-mailed prior to this and I knew almost no one in the entire country, the bar was pretty low! But Margaret has become a dear friend and colleague and I am so grateful for the faculty and staff from Morling. After teaching in higher education for over 25 years and counselling over 30, I’ve enjoyed learning the “Aussie way” from a fine counselling, chaplaincy, and spiritual care team who are committed to the best the behavioural sciences have to offer under the tutelage of the Wonderful Counsellor! The Psalmist wrote, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them.” I’ve discovered a like-minded group of colleagues here who desire to nurture great hearts for Christ while also encouraging the development of skilful hands.
Like Father Like Son
My son Caleb just graduated a year ago from the university where I teach and the program that I help lead. Had he lived in Australia, Morling College has a number of aspects that would have been very attractive to him. As a young guy who wants to make maximum impact for Christ, he would appreciate all the different options here that would prepare him to be salt and light. First and foremost, the Morling faculty is a well-equipped, multi-cultural team that goes beyond teaching in the classroom to actually going out to do the work of ministry. Morling is a place where the teacher/practitioner model is not just a catchphrase but a way of living.
Another thing Caleb would appreciate about this place is the welcome extended upon coming. All of us certainly appreciate a friendly place, but the truth is what we really want is a friend! Here at Morling I’ve felt a number of hands of friendship extended from the very beginning. This has been true of faculty. But it has also been so very true of staff and students as well. Teaching a couple of courses and supervising counselling students, I’ve been impressed with the students’ desire to learn, natural curiosity, work ethic, and willingness to engage and support one another.
Morling has a Clearly Defined Vision for the Future
Finally, Morling is a place that has a vision for the future. Beyond management, the leadership of Morling is actively thinking out of the box and positioning the school to remain a leader in theological education in this part of the world. The sounds of construction on and around this campus speak to a vision that is being actively pursued.
In my next three months, I’m excited about the chance to travel not just in Australia, but to some other countries in this region. What an amazing opportunity to be a part of God’s activity and to experience His refreshment in my 60th trip around the sun. Thanks for Terry Kohler, Margaret Welch, and Ross Clifford for the opportunity to come Down Under for a bit and to “have a go!”