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From the Chaplain

On Strowan – Volume 14 // Issue 6 // 22 August 2019

More news for Chapel

College Chaplain is Paul Morrow.

Earlier this month I was in Auckland at the annual Chaplain and Religious Education Teachers’ Conference followed by the Presbyterian Schools’ Principals’ and Chaplains’ Conference. Our first conference was held at King’s School in Remuera, who have not long completed an incredible classroom and library block that rises three storeys with beautiful views out to the Auckland Harbour. I was left wondering how any of the children would get any work done with having to contend with such views. King’s School is set on a beautiful property and we were hosted incredibly well.

Our first speaker was The Rev. Dr Anne van Gend, who is the Anglican Schools’ Resource Executive Director. She referred to the parable of the sower, and challenged us to think about what is required to prepare good soil for our young people to grow and flourish. She referred to five societal myths which she believed were like stones in the soil preventing our young people from developing into the purpose that God has for them:

  1. You can do anything if you work hard enough or put your mind to it. Life is overwhelmed with people who fail and never attain everything they set out to do in life. Shame and a sense of failure bear down on us every day. It is in this place that the Christian worldview provides hope and purpose, in the person of Jesus, who forgives and frees humanity to start over, again and again.
  2. You hold the future of the world in your hands. The world’s issues are too heavy for our young people to bear alone. As the AA twelve steps programme acknowledges, we need a higher power and belief that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. If you have ‘X’ you will be happy. We live in a consumer driven society and never seem content with what we have. The greatest consumer society is the USA whose population makes up just 6% of the earth’s population yet they consume 40% of its resources. We need to focus on the gift gratitude brings to our lives, and the joy that results in being content.
  4. To change the world, you must begin with yourself. This is just another excuse to be self-centred. Anne pointed out that things change in our lives when we focus on others.
  5. If you think differently from me, you insult me. We have a culture now that sets human against human, worldview against worldview, religion against religion, race against race, political thinking against each other and on it goes. We need to engage in dialogue, not for the sake of winning an argument but rather for the sake of understanding one another.

I felt Anne certainly challenged me to think a little more carefully about the messages we can give our children, with the good intention to provide hope, without really thinking through the wider ramifications. I believe, as does Rev. Dr Anne, that the Christian worldview provides a hopeful response to each of the five myths mentioned.

Other guests we were treated to were author Joy Cowley, contemporary New Zealand artist Nicky Foreman, story teller and motivational speaker Stu Duvall, and retired Professor of History at Massey Dr Peter Lineham.

The second conference held at Saint Kentigern College was on ‘Keeping the Faith’ in our Presbyterian schools. This presented the challenges we face with an ever-changing world and, yet in the face of such change, the need to hold on to our special character, our Christian narrative.

I am very appreciative to Rector, Christine Leighton, and the Board for granting me this opportunity each year.

Blessings,

Paul Morrow 
College Chaplain

On Strowan – Volume 14 // Issue 6 // 22 August 2019

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