What does climbing the Story Bridge have to do with theological education?
Plenty, if you are an Activate student at Trinity College Queensland. Part of the rationale behind Activate (the college’s gap-year program) is to help students integrate their studies through mission-shaped activities and broad-based life experiences. One of those is climbing the Story Bridge. It’s a fun thing to do. The jumpsuit is a little dated, but as you harness up and start climbing, the 90-minute journey offers a unique perspective on the river city and some interesting insights into Brisbane’s history.
But it also provides Activate students the opportunity to deepen their capacity to reflect theologically. For us, the experience wasn’t just a bridge climb. It was a rich encounter that opened all sorts of conversations about ‘bridges’. Reconciliation is a central theological theme in the Christian faith. Reconciliation is about spanning the divisions in our lives. Where relationships are broken and chasms appear, God invites us to follow his incarnational lead to gently enter the space of the ‘other’ to build relationship, bear the pain of hostility and restore connection between the distanced parties. In other words, our faith calls us first to embrace the divine ‘bridge’ that God offers to us in Christ, spanning the gulf between divinity and humanity. God then invites us to embrace his kingdom work of bridge-building in a world stained by alienation and hostility. As we pondered where bridges need to be built in our lives, the challenge of actually climbing a bridge provided fertile illustrative material for discussion and reflection.
Activate students have the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Ministry by the end of their gap year. It has been said that the longest journey in the world is the twelve inches from our head to our heart. Experiences like the Story Bridge climb facilitates the integration of theological information into life’s fabric, helping turn knowledge into wisdom.
After a positive start to our gap year program in 2018, we are pleased to announce plans to further develop Activate in coming years. In 2019 we will create a number of streams within the program, offering students a variety of learning options.
For high capacity, academically capable students, the classic Activate experience will be available to them: completing a Diploma in Ministry and participating in a full suite of additional activities (overseas mission trip, first aid course, barista course, safe driving program, mental health first aid course, money management program amongst other things).
For those who really want to focus more on their studies, a Contemplate stream will be created, completing only some of the additional activities, allowing students more time to concentrate on their studies for those who wish to maximise their learning.
A third option will be a program called Motivate, which is for students who might struggle with tertiary academic work. This will allow participants to do the full set of additional activities but some of the academic study can be audited (which means you sit in lectures to experience the learning but there will be no assessment – rather than receiving a Diploma of Ministry, you instead receive a non-accredited Trinity Activate Certificate for your participation).
The final option is called Dedicate. This is a two-year program where the Diploma in Ministry is completed part time across two years, whilst participants also complete a part-time internship within a local congregation, learning to serve the church.
The other opportunity available to the wider church is to financially assist a student to participate in the Activate program by contributing to our new Scholarship Fund. This is fully tax deductible and will assist a student to cover either their educational or accommodation costs.
Go to www.trinity.qld.edu.au/activate/ for more information.