Image (l-r)L: ACOM Principal Neale Meredith, Churches of Christ Vic/Tas Executive Officer Rob Nyhuis, ACOM chair Michael Adams and Stirling College Interim Principal Steve Sutton at the recent meeting where agreement was reached to explore a future national college.
The Australian College of Ministries (ACOM) and Stirling College (the federal Churches of Christ theological college based in Victoria) have unanimously decided to explore coming together to create one national college with multiple specialisations.
The two College Board Chairs have stated in today’s press release:
“While a final decision has not yet been made to bring the two Colleges together into one new entity, we are sensing that the time is right to explore this opportunity to create an even stronger and more well-resourced training organisation to better serve our network.”
The two Colleges started life as one (The Federal College of the Bible) in 1907 before becoming two separate colleges in 1942. Recommendations in 1987 and 2010 for the complementary colleges to work together stalled, so today’s announcement to explore moving towards their reunion is significant.
“What’s made way for this today has been a desire for unification, to work together more collaboratively, and several conversations at both the governance and on-the-ground leadership levels,” said Daz Farrell, Executive Ministry Director of churches of Christ NSW/ACT.
“This is not a power play or a political play, rather it is strength meeting strength to serve our churches. That’s the unanimous heart: we are better together, so how do we serve our churches and their leadership development?”
Keith Farmer was Principal at ACOM from 1981 to 2004 and has experienced much of the history.
He remarked, “I’m really feeling very positive about what’s happening.
My sense is that there’s a clear complementary nature to what the two colleges offer.
There will be a synergy in both the reality and the message of coming together in a complementary way and I think that’s really timely at the moment.
“Australia and, in general, western culture is drifting fairly quickly away from Christian emphases and in Australia we’ve actually become a minority.
We need therefore to unite together as one heart and mind, as Jesus prayed that we would, and support and encourage one another as Christians. The first step in that is that as a movement of Churches of Christ that we come together.”
For existing ACOM students and those in the churches of Christ NSW/ACT network, this coming together would mean access to Stirling’s many strengths including the areas of counselling, spiritual and pastoral care and Clinical Pastoral Education.
ACOM brings its experience in online education together with strengths in areas of Bible, theology, mission and leadership.
“Among many things, returning to one National training entity helps to grow the DNA identity of the national network of Churches of Christ, and partner organisations.
This commonality in terms of DNA is helpful in many ways, from leadership development, to mission, to research,” Daz added.
Read ACOM’s full announcement HERE.
Read more stories of Fresh Hope HERE