Challenges at Australian Lutheran College

In August 2015, I attended an interview for the position of Accountant at Australian Lutheran College (ALC). My first impression of the organisation was positive, and it was for a twelve month contact to cover a staff member going on maternity leave. I knew nothing about the college, or even that much about the Lutheran Church, but the place “felt right”, so when the Business Manager rang to offer me the position, I jumped at the opportunity.

I remember well the day I started; amazing people, beautiful grounds, and lots of work to do, but I truly believed that it was for 12 months only and then I would go out and find another contract and move on to another workplace. I had been doing this for a few years and I liked it. Little did I know that circumstances would change, and I would find myself six years later as part of the leadership team of the college and a part of the ALC community.

During those six years lots of things have changed. There has been the closure the residential boarding college division of the business and associated refectory and kitchen. There were changes to educational offerings and, of course, staff changes in the office and other parts of the college. It is a very different ALC now, from when I started, but it still “feels right” and we still have the beautiful grounds and the amazing people and, well, the workload hasn’t diminished either.

Like most not-for-profit organisations, Australian Lutheran College, is resource poor. Money is always tight, and we could always do with more staff. Our workforce is getting older and while we can and do find replacements for retiring staff when needed, we lose their years of experience and wisdom which is something you cannot always replace.

The modern contemporary church requires more pastors, lay workers and teachers, so our challenge is to keep up with new and improved teaching methods while still providing the skills that our students need.

When I started at ALC, all the pastoral students lived in Adelaide and most of them on site. Now in a distributed learning model things have changed, and fewer students are moving to Adelaide.

The last two years have challenged us in ways we would never have expected. If someone had asked me in 2019 what COVID-19 was or talked in terms of “Double Vaxed, PCR test or Zoom call” I would have wondered what they were on about. We have all become proficient in the language and deal with the challenges this pandemic brings in our own way.

It was and still is a huge challenge for ALC. We had to change, almost overnight, our way of teaching students. Our campus, which has always been a hive of activity, became a ghost town as we adapted to the “new normal” of online teaching. Some people coped better than others and we all had to fight hard to remain part of the ALC community. We have survived, with a few more skills and a different understanding of what makes a community.

So how are we tackling the challenges for the future at ALC?

Increasing enrolments at all levels is a challenge we must overcome and, to assist with this, a Certificate III in Christian Ministry is currently being developed with the first secondary school students expected to be enrolled in 2023. The new strategic direction “Toward 2028”, recently launched by the ALC Board, will lead us forward in the growth of enrolments in all areas.

Our biggest challenge is, of course, balancing the budget, because without funds our amazing people, beautiful grounds and our educational offerings would not exist. I can make it work as my predecessors have done before me, but it is the little things for students, their families and staff that often suffer in the current economic climate.

By God’s grace, I am blessed with the wonderful women of the Lutheran Church who, through their fundraising, provide ALC with the ability to give these little things to the student body. Shade trees for the playground, computer equipment to assist with online learning, and a coffee machine to foster the ALC community spirit through morning teas, are but a few of their generous gifts.

Will there be more challenges into the future at ALC? Of course, there will be, and the challenges and changes they bring about can often be difficult to deal with. If we are to survive, and I am sure we will, and improve in an ever-changing world, it is the spirit and strength of the ALC community that will guide us through.

About the Author

Judy Baker

Business Manager Judy is ALC Business Manager and a member of the ALC Leadership Team which oversees the strategic operations and plans for the college on behalf of the Board of Directors. Judy’s primary responsibility is ensuring organisational effectiveness by providing leadership for ALC’s financial, administrative, and human resources functions, and the accommodation facilities.

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