It’s a long way from Chicago to Perth, and it took us about 30 hours each way, but the opportunity and the experience are incalculable for us. Today I want to say a few things about Vose Seminary in Perth, Michael O’Neil and Brian Harris, and I’m posting a few pictures of Perth. I’ll have other posts in the days to come. But we have to declare our appreciation to Monica and Michael and Rosemary and Brian for being such wonderful hosts … they kept an eye on us with enough distance for us to adjust to the time zone changes and relax, but they were always near enough to help us with all we needed.
I was invited by Vose, via Michael and Brian, to give some keynote addresses at their annual conference for pastors: Beyond Four Walls, An Exploration of Being the Church. So I put together a lecture on the gospel, one on what it means to be “relevant,” and then a final one on atonement. Each of these was shaped in the direction of church and mission, and I think each will be published by Vose in the coming year. Kris and I attended a few other presentations, including one on ministry to Muslims and one by Michael on Jonah and prayer. Other keynote papers were by Brian (on trinity and church life, and Brian’s research has been on Grenz and evangelicalism) and by Stephen Garner, from Auckland, on cultural exegesis. We learned a bundle about Australian and New Zealand TV culture — and the theology at work! Papers by Karen Siggins, Bernie Power, and Margaret Wesley … all such great work and helpful ideas for the church.
The internet makes for a smaller world, and I met a host of pastors and professors and readers of this blog and our books. Not the least of whom are Jarrod McKenna and Andrew Hamilton, and I’ll stop right there with names. Each day involved a great pace, including stopping twice for Devonshire tea!
What struck me about Vose was how intimately tied it was to the church. It is both a reality and complaint that seminaries have become too much like an academic institution and not enough like the place where folks enter leadership in the church, but this isn’t the case at Vose. Every professor, and I had more conversations with Michael and Brian about this, is not only connected to a church but seems to be either a pastor (or was a pastor) or very close to a pastor. This changes everything about the seminary, and I’m confident about the capacity for Vose to become a leading seminary.
Speaking of Perth … what a place to walk and gawk! Kris and I got to walk numerous times along the Swan River, and the walkways alongside the river are manicured, beautiful, and lined with (some palm) trees and — yes indeedy — full of great birds. This is my picture of the Rainbow Lorikeet.