On roles and reputations

Last Friday there was a very … particular talk given at Principal’s Hour at college. John Woodhouse spoke on the crises facing the college, and the spectrum of responses required.

The two big factors that are focusing this discussion of change are the global financial crisis, and the non-committal, options-required nature of Gen-Y. The first is somewhat inevitable, but the second requires a deeper thought.

Now, what follows is my opinion and my perception. Let me make that very clear. Many statements below are implicitly preceded by “As far as I can tell,”, “The way I see it,” or grammatical equivalent.

Moore is a Reformed Anglican theological college. It is very explicit in it’s commitment to theological training as the best foundation for a life of ministry. It is also very explicit in it’s commitment to full-time on-campus involvement as the way to shape community and communal learning. It is also very much committed to producing people to serve the Sydney Anglican Diocese and any other diocese who likes people of that persuasion. This is the core of what Moore College is and does.

Moore has produced graduates in leading opinion making and gate-keeper positions. For example, the effect of Philip Jensen and what was done via St Matthias, CBS and MTS has had an important influence on the way we do things in Sydney. This is not to say he is the only influence, just an example of the type of opinion making effect. Now, each individual graduate has some sphere of influence in shaping other people’s opinions. Some, as noted above, have greater influence than others. This has shaped what we think about Moore college graduates – what they do, what they are like, where they go. Thing is, proximity and loudness tend to have a greater effect. For example, it is has never entered my mind to ask where a missionary went to study theology, but I have never needed to ask where the new assistant minister graduated from. This forms the way we see what Moore College is and does.

The first question is, then, what is the consonance between the perception and the reality? And is it a fair perception?
The second question is, what needs to change more – what people think about Moore and the way things are done, or Moore and the way it does things?

This generation is loaded with information and options. Perhaps the seeming rigidity of the college program is uninviting, and they go somewhere else more attractive. The net is loaded with places to get something that seems better. But should they become convinced of what Moore is convinced – that this is probably the best way? Or do we bow to the pressure of the masses? Or do we concede some things for the sake of some whilst upholding the ideal?

I don’t know how Moore is going to ride through this time. But I do know that I have had a great time here, and thoroughly commend it. I hope that whatever else changes, that doesn’t.

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