by Rev’d Dr Cathy Thomson

The 2020 Commencement service for St Barnabas College took place during Evening Prayer on the evening of the 19 February in St Peter’s Cathedral with The Rev’d Canon Jenny Wilson, Cathedral Precentor, officiating.  Archbishop Geoff Smith was present to congratulate students who graduated in 2019 through St Barnabas College. The Venerable Dr Ruth Mathieson was among those honoured having received recognition for both attaining her Doctorate in Biblical Studies, and the particular distinction of a University Medal from Charles Sturt University.  The Archbishop commissioned the new Principal, Diocesan Ministry Development Advisor and Director of Formation: respectively, The Rev’d Drs Cathy Thomson and Don Owers, and the Rev’d Nic Denny-Dimitriou.    The College’s prizes for the 2019 academic year were awarded by the Principal and representatives from various awarding bodies.

The Bishop of Willochra, The Rt Rev’d John Stead, was the preacher who based his sermon on Luke 6: 7-38. Bishop John explored the transformative combination of faith and deepening theological understanding.  He also encouraged students to be open to the Spirit of God who sings with the spirit of all individual Christians in a crescendo of perfect encounter between faithful people and their God.   

The intercessions for the world and the Church were thoughtfully led by current staff and students, while the Cathedral choir conducted by Director Anthony Hunt sang beautifully the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in Stanford in G setting, as well as Psalm 110 in Murrill Chant and the Rutter “God be in my Head.”

A large crowd gathered for the service and there was a very positive feeling in the Cathedral in honour of the recent graduates and prize-winners, the 2020 academic year and the new staff appointments.  The service was followed by a reception in the Library and Atrium of the college building across the road from the Cathedral. Here a happy crowd gathered: some sharing reminiscences of studies completed and others hopes and aspirations for the year ahead.  Past and present students were accompanied by their family members and friends, who it must be recognized are an indispensable support to those who are studying theology and often working in quite demanding ministries and jobs at the same time.  Three SBC principals, the newly-commissioned Cathy Thomson, the previous, Don Owers, and the one before that Matthew Anstey happened to be “snapped” standing together – a rare photo opportunity!

2020 is a very significant year in the College’s history, as it celebrates the 140th anniversary of its establishment in 1880 by Bishop Short.  A special celebration of this anniversary will take place later in the year with a service in St Peter’s Cathedral followed by refreshments and a college “open” session.   It is hoped that at this event a St Barnabas College Foundation will be established to help stabilize resourcing for the College into the future.

It is possible that some in the diocese are unsure of what it is the college does in this historical era of the 21st century.  St Barnabas does what it has always done well and that is to train women and men who feel called to ordained ministry to be theologically well-educated and to be formed as priests and ministers to enable them to carry out that calling.  St Barnabas also offers professional development training for clergy through the Graduate Certificate in Ministry which can be taken in the Leadership or Supervision stream.  It is hoped the leadership stream will be taken up by clergy who want to understand how best to live into their leadership roles and to turn the challenges of today’s church into opportunities for growth and flourishing.  The Supervision course was developed in response to the recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to the Sexual Abuse of Children, that all clergy should be receiving Professional Pastoral supervision to assist them minister in God’s Church in a way that has integrity and is helpful to all the people of God. 

St Barnabas also looks forward this year to working closely with LEMU, the newly constituted Leadership and Education Ministry Unit, to offer the best training for lay people and equipping for a range of lay ministries, driven by the imperatives of the 2022 Diocesan Vision.