One of the best experiences I have had was my time living and studying at Morling College. My on-campus experience helped shape me theologically and personally as I rubbed shoulders with staff, lecturers and other like-minded brothers and sisters wanting to grow deeper in Christ and be better equipped for ministry. As much as I enjoyed the daily lectures and class discussion, it was the after-class discussions, the late-night debates and the solidification of calling to the mission of Jesus that remains at the forefront of my memory.
10 years on from my college experience and I am serving Jesus as a pastor in the Central West of NSW. I love regional ministry! The community of faith I have the privilege to serve are friendly, hospitable and hungry to know more of Jesus. When one of our young adults felt called to go to Morling College I had a real mix of emotions. I was so excited for Sarah and I could not encourage her enough. I was excited for her to experience the many blessings of college life that I had enjoyed but there was also a sense of sadness and pain. I didn’t want our community to of have to say goodbye to her as she travelled across the sandstone curtain (the Blue Mountains) to the big smoke. This was heightened because I knew that she had no real desire to move to Sydney and wanted to stay here.
I wondered if there was a way in which Sarah could have the joy of college but stay here? A long story short, through exploring a number of options Sarah decided to stay here in Orange (thankfully) and has almost completed her degree in ministry via a mixture of online study and intensive modes. Sarah is also the Kids and Youth Coordinator at Orange Baptist Church. It seems to me that Sarah has very much enjoyed her study experience but says that her on-campus intensives have been a real highlight because of the face to face interactions.
This got me thinking, how could we have more face to face college experiences for people throughout the Central West, in the Central West? As I was pondering these questions, I had a welcomed phone call from David Starling. As it turned out, David and others at Morling had been asking similar questions but from a college perspective… how could Morling College better partner with Churches in regional areas? Over the course of a few months, with a lot of prayer and conversations, we floated the idea of the “Biblical Foundations for Ministry” course, including twice-yearly intensive units taught in Orange, with other pastors in the area.
It is fair to say that there was a really positive response. That response led to the first intensive being held at Orange Baptist Church back in October 2019 with 12 students joining Morling Lecturer Anthony Petterson for a unit on Old Testament Prophets and Writings. It was great to see these people rubbing shoulders with the lecturer and other like-minded brothers and sisters both inside and outside the classroom, encouraging each other to grow deeper in Christ and be better equipped for ministry here in the Central West.
This year we plan for the project to continue, with two more intensives in April and October. In April, Anthony Petterson will be joining us again, this time for Old Testament Foundations, and in October, Morling's Chief Community Life Officer Gayle Kent will be teaching an intensive unit that students can take as part of a Pastoral Skills and Methods subject or a Chaplaincy Skills subject. Both the April and the October intensives can be taken for academic credit, with the face to face days combining with online components completed before and after the intensive. For more information, read more about Morling's Biblical Foundations for Ministry and email Morling’s Future Students Advisor, Rebecca Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org.