Update from Rev Dave Wiliamson

From the Community Development Minister and University Chaplain, Rev Dave Williamson. 

MoTiv Visit - July 2014

MoTiv is the re-imagined and re-positioned presence of the church in Delft Technical University in Holland. Their recent visit to Australia was hosted by Oasis, Flinders University, and supported by the Tertiary Campus Ministry Association, and the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

MoTiv is unique. But the team reflects their willingness to be both honest and vulnerable about the place of traditional religious services or chaplaincy within an ever-increasing secular institution. Some thirty to forty years ago, as a traditional institutional chaplaincy operating out of a Dutch University, chaplain Ton Meijknecht served the needs of his Catholic students. They were drawn to conversational groups through his charisma and a connection with what they found in their own parents’ church: a sense of direction and purpose in their life. But Ton noticed year on year that the numbers began to wane, even though every year he made a more determined effort to create fancier brochures and catchier titles. Ton realised at that time that traditional chaplaincy – that is, the provision of religious services based on a particular tradition to a secular institution – was dying. 

Over the past few decades MoTiv has re-positioned itself with the blessing and support of the church and the university to provide leadership and coaching through consultancy in values, identity, ethics, personal development and change management. MoTiv seeks to ask what lies within – reflecting on the values and motivations that shape us, give rise to life within us, and within our world. 

MoTiv’s four coaches are academically trained in the fields of personal development, ethics, diversity, teambuilding, modernity and globalisation, and history. They all continue to develop their own unique skill set to sit alongside the theological education they have received. 

An important reflection I experienced through MoTiv’s visit was the sense of confidence the team owned, and indeed grew into. For many the church takes on one of two positions within public discourse, either that of apologetics – defending its place and its theo/ideology, or it shrinks back into small pockets where it deems itself relevant. Often neither position provides adequate space for creativity to flow and direction and meaning to prosper. Through their transformation MoTiv had to face their own sense of irrelevance, and associated fears of inadequacy. Yet it was this very process that led MoTiv back to the interconnectedness of our human experience, and the desire to nurture to the intrinsic elements common to each of us, namely our identity and our motivations. 

MoTiv shared in several forums with chaplains, students and university faculty and staff during their visit. They also held a recorded public lecture. If you are interested in obtaining a copy please contact the Oasis office at Flinders University: oasis@flinders.edu.au or 08 8201 3530 

Thinking through hospitality(excerpt from the Scots worship notices 29th June 2014)

Some of my most memorable experiences travelling are from the times I have been welcomed into the homes of locals. In coming to study in Australia many international students long for the opportunity to experience life with an Australian family. In 2014 the University of Adelaide set up a partnership arrangement between alumni (and families) and international students. The program was extremely popular and saw demand well exceed the number of hosts available. Each alumni family and student was expected to get together for one activity, meeting or event. That was all. It demonstrates the real desire of students to experience everyday Australian life. 

I’m hoping as a church community we can build on the successes of the past and enable more students the opportunity to have such experiences into the future – whether it be friendships bound by an occasional meal or invitation to an event/activity, or through the provision of a network of ‘homestay’ type accommodation options. I have been in conversation with a number of Uniting Church communities to begin to establish a network of people and places that can welcome students into their lives – whether it be for a few hours, or a few months. Options may include homestays, meals, activities or trips to regional/country parts of SA.  Dave.

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