Students make ministry impact

July 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Benefit local Seventh-day Adventist churches

Jarrod Stackelroth
Associate editor, Adventist Record
Adventist Media Network
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Local Seventh-day Adventist churches are benefiting from the placement of Avondale ministry and theology students in their congregations.

Theology student pray

Ministry and theology students at Avondale are taking what they learn on campus into local churches. Credit: Colin Chuang.

The students reported more than 1800 visits to church members, almost 1800 Bible studies, 1400 sermons, 1300 Sabbath school lessons and almost 300 evangelistic meetings between 2011 and 2013. They also reported having a “major influence” in more than 350 and a “minor influence” in almost 700 overseas baptisms.

“They’re making a significant difference through their practise of classroom learning in local churches,” says senior lecturer Dr Murray House.

Student-initiated series in Erina on the Central Coast and in Port Macquarie, Melbourne and Penrith have extended Avondale’s evangelistic influence outside of Lake Macquarie. Students are trained in door-to-door evangelism and practise this regularly throughout their course. Their delivery of The Search and the Beyond the Search DVD series contributed to the formation and the growth of the Blue Haven church plant on the Central Coast.

But the impact of their ministry goes beyond numerical success. “As students do ministry, they build their ministry identity and giftedness, increase their confidence and ultimately cement their God-given skills,” says Murray. He is in regular contact with ministers and elders who are seeking to place more students in their churches. “Practical learning allows theory to come to life and better prepares students for the realities of pastoral ministry.”

Information superhighway

June 30, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Avondale connects to national high-speed data network

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Avondale’s new connection to a national high-speed data network will increase its online capacity tenfold, provide better services and support collaboration between researchers.

AARNet fibre-optic cable

Avondale’s connection via fibre-optic cable to the Australian Academic and Research Network will increase online capacity tenfold.

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) is a not-for-profit company that operates the country’s National Research and Education Network. Its shareholders are 38 Australian universities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Connecting to AARNet is another step on our journey to university college status, says Simon Short, Avondale College of Higher Education’s chief information officer. He is referring not only to the community of AARNet end users, who number more than one million and include those at cultural institutions, health and other research organisations, schools and vocational training providers. The service provided to staff members and students will also improve.

The wide area network linking the Lake Macquarie campus in Cooranbong and the Sydney campus in Wahroonga and providing access to the Internet increases from 100 megabits per second via microwave to 1 gigabit per second via fibre-optic cable. “It just opens up the world,” says vice-president (research) Professor Tony Williams. “We now have the capacity to really innovate online.”

Services offered by AARNet such as cloud storage, global wireless network access and video conferencing will help achieve this.

The connection to AARNet is the most significant improvement to Avondale’s network since 2010. It comes on top of other recent improvements, including an upgrade to the wireless and to the fibre-optic network on both campuses.

In perhaps the best news for students, the connection also comes at a reduced cost. This means Avondale will from second semester this year abolish the fee students pay to access the Internet.

Hymns becomes broadcaster’s forum

June 23, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Journalist Geraldine Doogue returns as compere in conversation

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Journalist and broadcaster Geraldine Doogue will talk about religion in Australia during a concert at Avondale celebrating the Christian tradition of hymn and song singing.

Geraldine Doogue

Geraldine Doogue will return as compere of Hymns and Songs of Praise but will also feature in conversation talking about religion and journalism in Australia.

Geraldine returns as compere for the seventh Hymns and Songs of Praise, which Avondale College of Higher Education will host on its Lake Macquarie campus in August. The host of ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra and ABC Television’s Compass will also answer questions about religion and journalism in Australia during an extended interview halfway through the concert.

“Geraldine brings to Hymns and Songs a personal Christian commitment, a generous ecumenical spirit and several decades of experience in exploring the spiritual heart of Australian culture,” says senior theology lecturer Dr Lyell Heise. He is producing the concert with Valmai Hill in their roles as director and assistant to the director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s Institute of Worship.

Backed by the Institute of Worship Orchestra and led by Avondale vocal ensemble The Promise and soloists Albert Mataafa and Marian Moroney, Hymns and Songs of Praise will be highly participative—the audience will serve as a massed congregational choir. The “energy and quality will far exceed what is normally possible in a local congregation,” says Lyell.

The concert will open with the premiere performance of prize-winning composer and local Cooranbong resident Blake Robinson’s composition “Sky Passage,” with Blake guest conducting the orchestra. Among the hymns and songs to follow are “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Softly and Tenderly.” Young Avondale alumnus and composer Benjamin Milis will also guest conduct a performance of his song “Worthy.” The similarly named, and popular, “Worthy Is The Lamb” closes the concert.

Inspired by the BBC Television program Songs of Praise, Hymns and Songs of Praise celebrates “the timeless music and lyrics that continue to inspire Christians” and “the contemporary expressions of praise that are a tribute to the ongoing creativity of Christians in the worship community,” says Lyell. Offering praise to God in a musical form is also biblical, with Avondale Conservatorium director and The Promise artistic director Aleta King noting the Bible’s use of psalms and songs. “Understanding and celebrating our spiritual roots strengthens us in our identity and purpose for the future,” she says.

The Institute of Worship first presented Hymns and Songs of Praise in 2005. Lyell and his colleagues have since taken the concert, and the orchestra, to every mainland state in Australia and, this year, to Auckland and Papatoetoe in New Zealand.

Hymns and Songs of Praise with Geraldine Doogue, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saturday, August 23, 2014, 7-9 pm. $20 (single), $15 (concession/student), $40 (family—two adults and two or more school-age children).

Lady Elle’s homecoming

May 28, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Concert to welcome back musical icon

Alexandra Radovan
Public relations intern
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A concert to welcome home a long serving and refurbished musical icon will celebrate the return of a piano Avondale was never supposed to have.

Claire Howard Race and Lady Elle

Claire Howard Race will perform Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with Avondale Singers and Avondale Chamber Orchestra at the welcome home concert for Lady Elle. Credit: Colin Chuang.

Lady Elle will be officially named during Avondale Conservatorium’s Welcome Home! concert in Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church this Saturday (May 31). The Yamaha 9-ft concert grand piano returned from a refurbishment this past summer that included a restring, a paint, a polish and the replacement of all wearable action parts—including keys.

The name, Lady Elle, is a subtle reference to American pianist and vocalist Liberace, who used the piano during his last Australian tour in 1973. But how did she end up at a college of higher education in Cooranbong?

Dr Lynden Rogers, a senior lecturer in physics, remembers the story. Shipping issues had delayed delivery of a much smaller piano for Avondale College’s annual choir concert in 1974. A piano had been promised, though, so a piano—Lady Elle—was delivered. Apparently, no one could deny her beauty and the Avondale community rallied to raise the further $3000 to buy the piano. Lynden says he will forever wonder if the story was just a cunning ploy by distributors to make a bigger sale.

Lady Elle has now been a part of college life for 40 years. “She’s invaluable and irreplaceable,” says Avondale Conservatorium director Aleta King. To ensure Lady Elle’s longevity, plans are now to implement an access management system beginning in second semester.

Welcome Home! will feature a performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia by pianist Claire Howard Race, Avondale Singers and Avondale Chamber Orchestra. Avondale Conservatorium’s other ensembles will also perform as will five of its high distinction students.

Concert: Welcome Home!, Saturday, May 31, 2014, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, 7.30 pm.

BaRK a child’s best friend

May 28, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Lecturer’s research gives bite to canine assisted literacy program

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

The story behind an Avondale lecturer’s first-of-its-kind paper about a canine-assisted literacy program is published today in an inspirational book.

Child reading to dog

Barbara Fisher hopes her study, which features in a new book, will raise awareness of the educational benefits of canine assisted literacy programs. Credit: Lake Mac Libraries.

A study by Barbara Fisher investigated the effectiveness of BaRK (Building Reading Confidence for Kids), which sees a child read one-on-one to a trained therapy dog. The subject of the study: a disengaged nine-year-old called Zack.

Zack would read four stories to a labradoodle called Flash at the Toronto branch of Lake Macquarie City Council’s Lake Mac Libraries each week. After eight weeks, Zack’s reading accuracy improved by 11 months and his reading comprehension by 12 months. “I thought, That’s got to be a one-off,” says Barbara, a senior lecturer in the School of Education. She re-tested Zack 12 months later. “He’d retained all his gains.”

Barbara asked Zack why he found it easier to read to a dog. His response: “I don’t feel intimidated because it’s harder to speak to someone who actually talks back when you make a mistake.”

The location of the program, which is away from home and school, also helps remove peer pressure and stress, says Lac Mac Libraries’ lifelong learning officer Julie Dunn. “The dogs love to listen and provide attention and acceptance without judgement, and their calming nature provides an environment of emotional support.”

Zack and Flash now feature in the book, Dogs that Make a Difference: Inspiring stories of dogs that bring hope, help and healing to people’s lives, which is published today by Penguin Books Australia. Barbara re-tells Zack’s story in a chapter called “A BaRKing good idea.” All royalties from the sale of the book support Delta Society Australia, a not-for-profit organisation providing animal-assisted therapy.

Barbara’s paper, which she wrote with honorary senior research fellow Dr Merle Cozens, is published in the most recent issue of the journal, Literacy Learning: the Middle Years. It is the first in Australia to study from an educational perspective the effectiveness of a canine assisted literacy program.

“Parents and teachers had been telling us that children participating in the program demonstrated improvement in reading fluency, phonics and comprehension,” says Julie. “With Barbara’s research, we now have quantified evidence to show BaRK works on multiple levels.”

Barbara hopes her research will raise awareness of the programs in general. “BaRK gives children who struggle with reading and have become disengaged another alternative to improving their reading skills.”

Launch: Dogs that Make a Difference, Lake Mac Libraries, Toronto branch, Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 10.30 am.

Contact Julie Dunn, lifelong learning officer, Lake Mac Libraries, for more information.

PhD shows health benefits of CHIP

May 22, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

And will give Avondale its second doctoral graduate

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A 30-day lifestyle intervention delivered by volunteer facilitators in their communities significantly improves the health of participants, research by an Avondale PhD student shows.

Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin will become Avondale’s second PhD graduate.

Dr Paul Rankin examined the low-fat, plant-based Coronary Health Improvement Program (CHIP). He based his thesis on a study of 5070 people who participated in one of 178 CHIP interventions delivered by volunteers in Canada and the United States between 2006 and 2009.

He found two things.

The first: CHIP can be effectively presented by “appropriately resourced” volunteers in a community setting rather than by professionals in a clinical setting. “If you’ve got a personal connection with someone, you’ll have a bigger impact on their life,” says Paul.

The second: Regardless of age, body weight, family history, gender, marital status or religious affiliation, participants lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS)—a cluster of factors that lead to chronic diseases. Paul: “I can now stand up when I train CHIP facilitators and say, ‘We know that by running this program, you will be making a difference to people’s lives.’”

Paul experienced this personally before beginning his research—he has lost 35 kilograms since making CHIP lifestyle changes in 2005. “Adopting a much healthier diet and getting more exercise made a dramatic difference—my quality of life and my risk factors for MetS improved,” he says.

The PhD will leave another legacy, too. It has helped establish credibility for CHIP in the medical community—Paul is co-author of six journal articles, with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine describing one in the American Journal of Cardiology as “some of the most impressive recorded clinical changes ever.”

Paul is the second student to graduate with a PhD from Avondale—René Gehring became the first in 2011—but the first to begin and end the degree at the college of higher education. He has become “great mates” with his supervisor, Dr Darren Morton, a senior lecturer in health and exercise science in the School of Education. Darren’s even encouraged Paul to take up hang-gliding.

While conferred, Paul will receive his testamur at graduation this year.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific has relaunched CHIP, developed in the United States by Dr Hans Diehl’s Lifestyle Medicine Institute. The Complete Health Improvement Program is now under the leadership and management of Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing in Australia.

A “holey” place

May 22, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Annual Appeal to re-roof college’s premier performance venue

Bianca Reynaud
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Churches are holy places, but flooding through the flat concrete roof of Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church has seen the building become a “holey” place. Compounding the problem: unlike other local churches, the building is the premier performing arts venue and the spiritual centre for students at Avondale College of Higher Education.

Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church

Work begins on building the pitched roof over Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church. Credit: Joy Taplin.

Water has been leaking through the roof “from the get-go,” which essentially dates to the building’s opening on March 8, 1988. An airflow unit, which sat on the roof, eventually stopped functioning. A wet-seal membrane protecting the roof has deteriorated—even a resealing about five years ago did not stop the leaks.

This has become a major work health and safety issue—the church closed for a time this past year after sections of the ceiling collapsed to the floor. “We have a duty of care to those who use the building,” says Avondale president Professor Ray Roennfeldt, “so despite our tight fiscal position, we’re committed to fixing the problem.”

Water leaking onto instruments, particularly those remaining permanently on the stage, concerns Avondale Conservatorium director Aleta King. The conservatorium uses the building to host its Avondale Concert Series, which includes the meditative and reflective music program, Evensong, and its gala events such as last year’s Homecoming concert, War and Peace. “The combined replacement value of the instruments is in the region of six figures,” says Aleta. She describes Lady Elle, the newly refurbished Yamaha 9ft concert grand piano that Avondale has owned for 40 years, and the Johannus organ as “irreplaceable.”

The solution to the problem: the building of a pitched roof. “We made the decision, rather than continuously repair the membrane, to roof straight over the top,” says assistant property manager James Moncrieff. The roof, insulated to prevent a build-up of moisture on the inside, will also protect a new airflow unit and louvers and keep the sun off the concrete roof, reducing heat inside the building.

Protecting the building to enhance its performance space is in keeping with the vision of those who designed it. Former senior lecturer in mathematics Dr Wilf Pinchin, an expert on acoustics, reverberation and performance space, served as a member of the construction committee. He recommended a reverberation that would suit a range of activities, from orchestral music to spoken word. The building is “versatile,” with many surfaces of different textures that break up the sound—this makes congregational singing sound full, for example. Subsequent modifications could further improve the performance space for all functions. The main reason for the building’s versatility: “to prepare broad-based students,” says Wilf.

The Avondale College of Higher Education Offering collected in Seventh-day Adventist churches across the South Pacific on June 7 this year will contribute to the $650,000 it is costing to build the pitched roof. The most recent offering in 2012 also had a music focus, raising $144,000 to restore and enhance the historic Music and Greer Halls on the Lake Macquarie campus. “Your generosity improved the Avondale experience for our music students,” says Ray. “Your response to the offering this year will do the same, and it will also restore and protect our holy place.”

The building’s physical restoration is important, says chaplain Dr Wayne French. “When I think about worship, I think about Friday nights and Sabbath mornings in College Church. The building has a grandeur that focuses your attention up toward God.” Its design also creates a sense of community. “The students seem close to you. It’s just such a friendly and easy place to connect.”

Collaboration brings musical and creative cohesion

May 20, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

The Promise Jesus: HIStoryJesus: HIStory
The Promise
Psalter Music

Clansi Rogers

The Promise’s fourth album marks a departure for the Avondale College of Higher Education vocal ensemble, and it is a successful and interesting move. While earlier albums included a number of songs with musical accompaniment, which usually reflects the experience of watching The Promise perform live, Jesus: HIStory is the ensemble’s first fully instrumentally backed album. Although I usually prefer The Promise a cappella, this is the album for which I’ve been waiting.

All previous albums have mixed composers and styles. The Promise (2006) and Give Thanks (2013) included arrangements and compositions by members of The Promise, but Jesus: HIStory is different—a full album of songs by one composer and arranger. Avondale Jazz Ensemble director David Pudney, with father-in-law Pr Neil Gough, wrote the songs in the 1980s to “reimagine the stories of the Gospels.” This gives a musical and creative cohesion the other albums have lacked.

The collaboration with the jazz ensemble ensures the album remains a thoroughly Avondale musical experience. And experience is perhaps the most accurate description. As The Promise artistic director Aleta King writes in the liner notes, Jesus: HIStory is a “one-hour musical narrative on the timeless story of Jesus.”

The order of the songs takes the listener on a reflective journey. A number of the songs are enjoyable as stand alone pieces—particularly “We Have Seen His Star,” “Gethsemane” and “Our Father”—but most are best enjoyed in the context of the whole album.

While Jesus: HIStory opens and closes with quiet reflection, it’s full and powerful at its heart. The album does not fall into the trap of being a weak imitation of an impressive live performance. Rather, it is an excellent testament to the quality of the jazz ensemble and to the musical maturity of The Promise.

I hope to see more collaborations such as this. Indeed, I look forward to an album created fully by members of the Avondale community. Jesus: HIStory is almost there and is a worthy chapter in Avondale’s long history of telling the story of Jesus in musical and creative ways.

Clansi is an alumna of Avondale College of Higher Education who has reviewed each of The Promise’s four albums.

Jesus: HIStory is available from the Avondale Online Store or from Apple’s iTunes music store.

Nurses: a force for change

May 15, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Students use celebration to support colleagues

Nursing students at Avondale have written messages of encouragement to their contemporaries in the South Pacific during International Nurses Day celebrations on May 12.

International Nurses Day 2014

Students decorated cut-outs representing themselves as nurses, a “force for change.” Credit: Tamera Gosling.

The Faculty of Nursing and Health will send the messages to registered nurses and students at Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where former Avondale lecturer Katherine Cooper is now dean of the School of Health Science. The messages will also go to the School of Nursing at Atoifi Adventist Hospital on Malaita in the Solomon Islands. Keynote speaker Julie Angari, a former dean of the school, provided some context. A partnership between Atoifi and Avondale sees Faculty of Nursing and Health staff members and students return each year to serve at the hospital.

Lecturer Sonja Dawson introduced the day’s theme: Nurses: a force for change—a vital resource for health, which aims to demonstrate to governments, employers and members of the community the role well-educated and well-informed nurses play in improving patient safety and the quality of health care. She also brought a sense of perspective, comparing the ratio of nurses and midwives to the population in developed countries such as Australia (1:120) with the ratio in developing countries such as Papua New Guinea (1:2000).

“You might not realise it, but you’ve signed up for lifelong learning,” she told the students. “If you allow yourselves to listen to that still small voice within, and act on the promptings you are given, and are faithful to continue the pursuit, I can guarantee your journey will be a satisfying one and one that you can and will be a force for change.”

International Nurses Day is held on May 12 each year, the anniversary of modern nursing founder Florence Nightingale’s birth. It honours nurses and the contribution they make to society. The International Council of Nurses has celebrated the day since 1965.

Em’s the voice

May 7, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Staff member’s reality TV performance wins over stars

Linden Chuang
Assistant editor—digital, Adventist Record
Adventist Media Network
Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia

An Avondale staff member’s rendition of a song from a musical has impressed coaches and the audience on a commercial television station’s reality talent show.

Emily Rex on The Voice

Emily Kilgour’s performance of “Pure Imagination” earned her a pass to The Voice’s “battle rounds.”

Emily Kilgour, whose stage name is Emily Rex, performed “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory during the first series of “blind auditions” on Channel Nine’s The Voice this past Monday (May 5).

The show’s website describes the performance as “hypnotis[ing] the coaches,” three of who turned their chairs around to watch Emily sing.

Hip-hop artist, with whom Emily will work in preparation for the “battle rounds,” enthusiastically sang along, admitting “Pure Imagination” was his favourite song. Vocalist Joel Madden noted Emily’s “beautiful voice” and “beautiful song selection” while singer and songwriter Kylie Minogue described the performance as “confident” because “there was nowhere to run [or] nowhere to hide.”

“I wanted to do the best I could,” says Emily, the professional placement officer in the School of Education, “but it’s nerve-racking because everything is based on a first impression.”

Emily performs as part of Vintage Season with husband Jarel. The two released their self-titled debut album on Adventist Media Network’s Psalter Music label in 2011.

Former Psalter artist Anna Weatherup also made it through The Voice’s “blind auditions” in season two of the show this past year.

The winner of The Voice receives a recording contract with Universal Music.—Adventist Record