Why PULSE is engaging with UCA Schools

Conversation | Karen Mitchell Lambert | 11th February 2020

PULSE team leader Karen Mitchell-Lambert has been visiting each of the Sydney-located UCA schools over the last few weeks. Here’s why.

Over the past 2 weeks I have been intentionally visiting the Principals of the Uniting Church Schools in Sydney. We have five: Pymble Ladies College, Ravenswood, Knox, Newington and MLC. Outside of Sydney we have 2 additional schools: Margaret Jurd in Newcastle, and Kinross Wolaroi in Orange. We also have Wesley College at Sydney University and The Exodus Foundation in Ashfield. Margaret Jurd and the Exodus foundation work specifically with disadvantaged young people.

The original proposal for Pulse had 3 pillars:

Karen with Newington Principal Michael Parker

1. Grow what we have;
2. Work with the schools to explore the possibility of developing faith communities within them; and
3. Work with University Chaplaincy to strengthen their connection with the Schools and the Church.

So in light of this, now that we have a bit of a plan about where we are going as PULSE, I felt it was time to touch base with the school Principals to let them know about PULSE and explore how we could work together and explore what is possible. If you have ever visited one of these Uniting Church schools you’ll know they are very impressive pieces of architecture. A number of them have just celebrated over 100 hundred years of educating young people. Each of them is very, very, different. Each has their own style and vision for who they are and what they are trying to achieve. What suits one child will not suit another.

There was a number of things that the schools hold in common. Their deep love for the Uniting Church, and their passion for sharing the gospel. This plays out in every school in their rigorous commitment to social justice – not just in words, but also in actions, and through their dedication to religious eduction and the importance of Chaplains. Every school cared deeply for their students and families, offering genuine pastoral care and support however they could. This has included how they support drought affected families whose children are boarding at the schools, as well as a variety of scholarships and bursaries for disadvantaged people and communities, including refugees.

Students from UCA Schools talked about Climate Action at 2019 Synod and helped form the strategy that was adopted by Synod.

What has very pleasantly surprised me is the school’s willingness to work with the PULSE team, exploring together how we can grow our ministry with young people in the schools including creating a UCA School’s curriculum, and what a UCA School Climate Action would look like. We have also talked about strengthening the relationship between the schools and the Church moving forward, exploring how we can connect with Uniting. As initial conversations all of them were really exciting and I am very hopeful about what God is going to do next as we move forward as a whole church. I look forward to visiting the others as the months go on.  #Allofthisisus.

Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.