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‘Six crises’ for Sydney college

06 May 2009

by Muriel Porter Australia Correspondent

THE Principal of Moore Theological College in Sydney, Canon John Woodhouse, says that the college is facing “at least six crises".

These include an expected cut in the Sydney synod’s grant to the college, because of the global financial crisis; a decline in enrolments; generational culture change; and challenges to the college’s style of theological education.

Moore College is widely acknowledged to be the powerhouse behind the ethos of Sydney diocese: the previous Principal, Dr Peter Jensen, is now the Archbishop of Sydney.

In an article posted on the Sydney diocesan website, Canon Woodhouse wrote that first-year enrolments had declined this year after many years of steady growth. This was a trend that “might continue for some years”.

The students and potential students of “Gen Y” had “changing expectations of the Christian life and visions for Christian ministry”. “These changes have brought pressure for change to the college that is, in my experience, unpre­cedented.”

Partly because of this, the college could no longer rely on the “strong reputation” among Evangelicals, particularly among 20- to 30-year-olds, “many of whom should at least be considering coming here”. There was a perception that the college was “too hard” or “too academic”.

“With all of these things in the air (and adding energy to some of them) a new and powerful Christian movement from America is sweeping the Evangelical scene in this country — or so it seems,” Canon Woodhouse wrote. It involved “definite views about theological education”.

To meet the challenges, there would need to be substantial changes in the operations of the college, and greater flexibility in the college’s offerings would need to be considered.

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