Students worship in Ella Hughes Chapel

More room needed

Friday, May 31, 2024
Brenton Stacey
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Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University’s Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer. He brings to the role experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities.

Help equip a spiritual centre for student worship

It is a problem you pray for. With more students on our Lake Macquarie campus this year, more are attending—or wanting to attend—our worship programs, but we are running out of room.

The offer of free accommodation and a larger investment in fostering the on-campus experience has helped fill our residences. So, hundreds are attending our student-led program, SALT, in Ella Hughes Chapel on Friday evenings and the worship service in Avondale University Church on Sabbath mornings. Inspired at our Festival of Faith to make decisions for baptism and Bible study, more are even joining small groups.

This means, though, that our worship spaces are now too small or ill-equipped to meet our needs. Ella Hughes Chapel fills quickly on Fridays, so students who come later might leave if they cannot find a seat. “We should be making room whenever they walk in the door,” says chaplain Priscilla Mariassouce. Avondale University Church is too big for our Friday evening program, which makes it difficult to build a sense of belonging. And when Ella Hughes Chapel and the church are used by other groups, “we don’t have a home!” says Priscilla.

You may remember the Chapel (or College Hall as we call it now). This historic building stands at the centre of campus. Until the opening of the church in the late 1980s, it served as the centre of worship at Avondale. Now it is empty for most of the year. Our end-of-financial-year campaign is raising money to equip the space as a spiritual centre on campus and provide a much-needed dedicated space for student worship.

The Chapel is big enough to hold every student wanting to attend our worship programs. “And that’s important because, as you’ll understand, we want our students to feel there’s always space,” says vice-chancellor Professor Kerri-Lee Krause. “The Chapel has been part of campus life for 125 years but it’s a new space for our students and a new opportunity for more of them to grow their faith.”

Kerri-Lee credits our “passionate and experienced” campus ministry team for the growing number of students attending worship programs. “We don’t want students missing out on the full worship experience our chaplains, pastoral team and residence directors create—or, possibly, missing out on the experience all together.”

Avondale University Church lead pastor Pr Norman Hurlow refers to the story of creation where God forms then fills spaces. “What I know this campus needs is more spaces like that,” he says, where students can “connect and experience God.”

Making more room for worship at Avondale is an investment with big returns, says Kerri-Lee. “Thousands of people like you have grown and even found their faith at Avondale. Now you have the opportunity to help hundreds more do the same before they head out into their professional mission fields.”

A Home for Worship

Your gift by June 30* will make more room for students to worship at Avondale. * Donations above $2 give you a tax deduction in Australia.

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