I’m a believer

August 28, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Journalist opens up at Homecoming concert

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

A journalist and broadcaster criticised the profession’s wariness of religious issues after candidly declaring her faith during Avondale College of Higher Education’s Homecoming concert.

Geraldine Doogue at Hymns and Songs of Praise

Geraldine Doogue speaks about religion and journalism in Australia during Hymns and Songs of Praise. Credit: Ann Stafford.

In an interview midway through Hymns and Songs of Praise, Geraldine Doogue described her Christian faith as giving her life “solace and ballast.” The host of Compass on ABC TV and Saturday Extra on ABC Radio National said the best journalists work with a sense of conviction but “do not know how to handle religion.” Their hesitancy to ask about a belief system “is a real pity” because “[asking about it is] often the best clue you’ll get to try and understand a person.”

Geraldine’s return as host—she played the same role at the most recent Hymns and Songs in 2012—helped fill Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Murdoch Lecture

The annual Murdoch Lecture explored the role of religion in academe. Speaker Dr Lawrence Geraty, president emeritus of La Sierra University (Riverside, California, USA), used Avondale’s values statement to remind those attending why they associated with a Seventh-day Adventist tertiary institution. Adapting text from a philosophy brochure of the Markham Woods Seventh-day Adventist Church, Lawrence described Avondale as “a place where people seek to become all that God has in mind for them to be.”


Teachers received most of the citations at Homecoming. Avondale Alumni Association’s Alumna of the Year Adele Rowden-Johnson worked in technical and further education for 10 years before her first contact with what is now Southlakes Refuge. “I was only meant to stay for a short while, then return to TAFE teaching. God had other ideas.” The association honoured the former managing director for her dedication in caring for and raising awareness of women and children who are the victims of abuse or domestic violence.

Class of 1974 reunion at Homecoming 2014

Members of the class of 1974 pose for more modern memories. Credit: Ann Stafford.

Alumnus of the Year Cliff Morgan turned down multiple offers from the Adventist Church to teach in its schools, promising instead that once retired, he would serve the mission of the church at his own expense. Cliff made good on his promise after a visit to the Solomon Islands and to Papua New Guinea in 1995. The church’s greatest need in those countries: finding sponsors for local missionaries to grow churches in isolated areas. So began Volunteers in Action, a ministry that has now led to more than 16,000 baptisms across the South Pacific.

Chris Koelma received the Young Alumnus of the Year award for sharing the universal language through performance and education. The composer and bass guitarist has been heading primary music at schools in Argentina and Malaysia since graduation.

Seven other alumni, one from each of the Homecoming honour years, joined Adele, Cliff and Chris as citation recipients: evangelist and field archaeologist Pr David Down (1944); academic Dr Laurie Draper (1954); missionary Coral Camps (1964); teacher and treasurer Harvey Carlsen (1974); principal Mark Vodell (1984); teacher Anthony Hibbard (1994); and communicator Adele Nash (2004).

Alumni Heritage Day

Homecoming closed on the lawns of “Sunnyside,” the Cooranbong home of Adventist Church pioneer Ellen White. A breakfast preceded a presentation by Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek and tours of the house and the South Sea Islands Museum.

Safari and stars

August 27, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Exhibition showcases “God’s paint brush”

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

Karl Lindsay photograph

Karl Lindsay won the Avondale Fine Arts Photography Prize at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival this year with this photograph.

An exhibition illustrating a safari and the stars will be launched by an award-winning local photographer in Avondale Libraries on Thursday.

Our World and the Cosmos features 15 photographs of African and Australia landscapes, night skies and wildlife.

“These photographs allow me to showcase the fabulous paint brush of God,” says Karl Lindsay of Bonnells Bay, an Avondale College of Higher Education alumnus who won the Fine Arts Photography Prize at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival this year. He particularly enjoys photographing the night sky “because it’s something you rarely make the time to see.”

Stars and the Milky Way provide a stunning backdrop to Karl’s winning photograph, which is part of the exhibition. The photograph shows a bicycle framed and lit by the light from a convenience store in the Eastern Province capital of Mambwe, Zambia. The store is called the God Is Able Shop. Judge Aaron Bellette, a lecturer in photo media at Avondale, describes the photograph as having “layers of meanings and elements for the viewer to explore.”

Karl first saw the shop the day before shooting the photograph. “I thought, That would look awesome under a starry night sky.” Fortunately, starry night skies are common in Zambia and Karl got his shot. “It makes the perfect statement,” he says.

A former assistant boy’s dean at a school in Kenya and an intern with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Zambia, Karl says he has “left a piece of my heart in Africa.”

His photographs make this obvious. Afternoon Gold, for example, depicts Victoria Falls bathed in sunset. Karl entered the park at dawn and did not leave until dusk. His favourite photograph, Circles in the Sky, is a 15-minute exposure of the African night sky with streaming stars and a silhouette of a tree. “It just shows how insignificant we are,” he says.

Launch: Our World and the Cosmos, Avondale Libraries (Lake Macquarie campus), Thursday, August 28, 6 pm.

Publisher puts name to theological papers

August 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

New books get independent endorsement

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

One of Australia’s largest publishers of theological literature has with Avondale published two books co-edited by academics at the college of higher education.

Avondale Academic Press books

Rob McIver and Ross Cole’s new books are co-published by the Australasian Theological Forum.

Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity is a selection of papers presented at a theological consultation on the doctrine of the Trinity at the head office of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific in 2008. It is co-edited by Associate Professor Rob McIver from the School of Ministry and Theology.

Rob’s colleague, Dr Ross Cole, co-edited Hermeneutics, Intertextuality and the Contemporary Meaning of Scripture. This book is also a selection of papers presented at a theological consultation, this one on hermeneutics—the science of interpretation—at Avondale in January 2003.

Between both books, Rob and Ross along with Avondale president Professor Ray Roennfeldt and Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek contribute seven chapters. Other contributors include honorary senior research fellows Drs Graeme Bradford and the late Arthur Patrick and Drs Jon Paulien and Richard Rice from Loma Linda University.

“The discussion about the Trinity and hermeneutics has been ongoing and shows no sign of letting up,” says Rob, executive editor of Avondale Academic Press. “The chapters deal with the crucial lines of evidence and are written by authors who know the Australian movement.”

Having ATF Theology, an imprint of the Australasian Theological Forum, as co-publisher will give these authors a wider audience, including an international one, adds Rob.

The then field secretary for the church in the South Pacific, Dr Paul Petersen, sponsored the conferences and co-edited the books. His role as the church’s biblical and theological consultant gives the books further “gravitas,” says Rob.

Biblical and Theological Studies on the Trinity and Hermeneutics, Intertextuality and the Contemporary Meaning of Scripture ($34.95) are available with free shipping in Australia from the Avondale Online Store. www.avondale.edu.au/onlinestore

Clinical missionaries

August 21, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Avondale students model in Solomons value of nursing

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

A fifth annual visit by Avondale nurses to a hospital on Malaita in the Solomon Islands demonstrates to local students the value of the profession.

Nurses at Atoifi Adventist Hospital

Avondale students present a skit as part of a medication calculation session with nurses at Atoifi Adventist Hospital. Melissa Byrne played the role of the bad nurse who tries to cover up an medication incident.

A partnership between Atoifi Adventist Hospital and Avondale College of Higher Education saw nine final-year students from the Faculty of Nursing and Health return with lecturer Kerry Miller to the island, July 12-25.

The purpose of the trip: to serve as a clinical learning experience in a developing country and as an introduction to medical-focused mission.

The students served on all wards with those from the hospital’s School of Nursing. They assisted with the care of a boy with burns to more than 80 per cent of his body, diagnosed and treated outpatients with machete injuries, malaria and ulcerated wounds from insect or snake bites and observed the birth of babies.

“We all have great memories we’ll never forget,” says Brittany Charters. “And most importantly, great friendships.” Several of these formed around classmate Melissa Byrne’s guitar. “I asked the children if they’d like to sing and they all screamed, ‘Yes,’ so I started playing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ All the children came over and started singing. They were so beautiful.”

Kerry describes the willingness of the students to build relationships with the staff members and students and the children on the hospital campus as “heartening.” It may even be career defining.

“Many students in the Solomons choose nursing as one of the limited post-secondary avenues for education and may not see nursing as their primary occupational goal,” she says. “By showing that the Avondale students have chosen nursing despite the plethora of alternatives available to them, the Atoifi students can gain a greater sense of the value of this kind of professional service.”

Life savers

August 14, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Academic’s bacteria paper shows patient safety improving in hospitals

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

A major reduction in the incidence of a hospital-acquired bacteria causing morbidity and mortality has saved 500 lives over the past 12 years.

Brett Mitchell

Brett Mitchell’s paper shows a significant reduction in the number of preventable deaths in Australia. Credit: Brenton Stacey.

The finding, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases August 4, is based on a longitudinal study of Staphylococcus aureus in 132 Australian hospitals.

The bacteria is acquired through the poor management of intravascular devices, such as cannulas and drips. So improvements in hand hygiene, skin preparation and surgery management, for example, have decreased its annual incidence per 10,000 patient days from 1.72 in 2002 to 0.64 in 2013.

These figures equate to a mean reduction of 9.4 per cent each year or 2500 fewer cases—about 500 lives—over the duration of the study.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Brett Mitchell, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Nursing and Health at Avondale College of Higher Education, describes the finding as a “robust” indicator of the quality of clinical practice. Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia “is one of the most important infections because it’s easily measured, consistently measured over a long time and correlated with patient care,” he says. As the first hospital-acquired infection to be nationally defined, “it’s also a performance indicator for hospitals.”

The paper is the first longitudinal multi-state and territory study of the infection in Australia. Limited communication between the states and territories had until 2006 a negative impact on coordination and understanding of infection prevention, says Brett. “No one wanted to report data because infections were high in hospitals but low on the political and public agenda.” Things changed when health ministers created the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. “We began looking at all infections, not just specific organisms, identifying best practice and standardising that practice.”

The result, and another first for the paper: the finding of a significant reduction in both the methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus. “Other countries have seen a decrease in one strain; we’ve seen a decrease in both.

“People have died unnecessarily from this infection,” says Brett, “but what we as a healthcare sector can now say is we are significantly reducing the number of preventable deaths in Australia.”


August 14, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

What we learned from our study of development projects in Nepal

Joshua Page
Public relations assistant
Avondale College of Higher Education
Kathmandu, Nepal

Everest. Sherpas. The world’s only non-quadrilateral flag. The country: Nepal, of course. The nine Avondale College of Higher Education students who visited June 17-July 15 learned much more about this landlocked nation, though. Rough roads, raging rapids. Patriarchy, poverty. The caste system, climate change. And a vulnerable but proud people fighting for a better life.

Emma McCrow with manual sewing machine

A small business owner teaches Emma McCrow to use a manual sewing machine in Ghanjaripipal village, Nepal. Credit: Alexandra Radovan.

The trip served as the practical component of one of our international poverty and development studies units. We’d previously completed other units in the course and prepared extensively throughout first semester for the trip. During our month in Nepal, we traversed 19 of its 75 districts to visit 15 villages, all beneficiaries of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) projects.

The field work took a different form from most short-term mission trips: we were monitoring and evaluating completed ADRA projects. It doesn’t sound as exciting as building a church or a school, and in some ways, it wasn’t. But as senior lecturer Brad Watson says, “It’s much harder engaging in a process where someone else is feeling like they’re the ones who ‘did it,’ and those foreigners were only tangental. As a feel-good activity, it doesn’t work as well as other experiences, but it is providing an important service.”

While the projects we evaluated were funded in Australia, our feedback would join a large body of research being presented to the British government’s UK Aid. The kicker: we could influence millions of dollars of humanitarian funding. “Take it seriously, because ADRA takes it seriously,” advised Simon Lewis, the ADRA Nepal country director at the time.

Throughout our travels, we found ourselves irresistibly drawn to the people of Nepal and their stories. Our translator, for example: a career woman in a patriarchal society. Malnourished eight-year-old twins overlooked in a reasonably prosperous village, and the challenge to provide help for them that would continue after we departed. Nepal’s only all-female adventure company, with glowing hope for the future. An ambitious young man soon to become the first person in his village to hold a tertiary degree. Another man who asked us to tell our government to stop polluting, as we were causing climate change in his village. A confident women’s group who excitedly told us that as microcredit programs gave them income, their husbands gave them respect.

These people are the real Nepal—no less a part of the country than the stones and snow of Everest. We went to help and were gratefully received. But we learned, too. We learned many fail to break the cycle of poverty because they simply lack the opportunity to do so. We learned to hope and to strive for a world where we can offer these opportunities to all.

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.

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.”

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.