“I have found in the last seven years I’ve been at the school that my world, my understanding of God, my understanding of what it means to be a human person in this world has just exploded. It just seems to get bigger and bigger all the time. And I love that. I love that there’s always a bigger story.”– Uniting Church school chaplain
School chaplains sit with young people every day. They learn from them. They teach, conduct worship, lead social justice groups, coach sporting teams and they listen. Chaplains have a deep understanding of both the passion and the pain that young people encounter on their journeys.
At the end of last year, the Victorian Tasmanian Synod said farewell to three long-serving chaplains: Rev Peter Burnham and Rev Peter Wiltshire from Wesley College and Rev Greg Beck from Kingswood College. They will all be missed by their communities and by the wider network of school chaplains.
Rev Graham Bartley has worked as a chaplaincy colleague at Wesley for the past few years and thanked Peter Wiltshire for his “wisdom, intellect and sensitivity which guide and enlighten us.”
He also paid tribute to Peter Burnham.
“We farewell Peter Burnham as he concludes his remarkable era at Wesley. Peter’s experience, spirit and personal qualities are enormous,” Mr Bartley said.
“We will miss him greatly but his legacy of love, strength and integrity will resonate in the college and through so many people for ages to come.”
Greg Beck retired from his role at Kingswood College at the end of 2016 after many years of ministry. Lucinda Malgas replaced Mr Beck and was welcomed into the role of school chaplain at an induction service on 6 February.
During the service, she expressed her vision of the type of school community she hopes to cultivate.
“My hope is that we increasingly become the type of community that Jesus was striving for,” Ms Malgas said
“A community that challenges the injustices in this world, that resists behaviour and challenges institutions that create divisions and excludes people, that resists behaviour and challenges institutions that rob people of their dignity or that threaten creation itself.”
Ms Malgas challenged students to speak out when they see injustice in the world.
“Let us not merely be bystanders where there is a need to stand up and speak out for what is right and let us truly believe that each and every one of us can indeed make a positive difference,” she said.
“We are a community where our individual stories will become interwoven and because your story, your life is so precious, it makes the union of all our stories, our community, a sacred space, a space where we must honour each other’s stories and a space where our collective story will unfold.”
Sarah Lockwood is the synod’s Schools Project Worker.