Spirituality and Worship Research Centre
The Avondale Spirituality and Worship Research Centre was established in 2015 for the following purposes:
- The Centre will provide an environment for interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research relating to matters of spirituality and worship.
- The Centre will seek out research that that has practical applications that meets identified needs in the Christian Church and the wider community,
- The Centre will act as a forum where academic discussion relating to the nexus between society and Spirituality and Worship is encouraged.
- The Spirituality and Worship Centre will, by its very existence, highlight the continued importance of the core spiritual heritage and ongoing vision of Avondale College of Higher Education. It will respect historical roots within Seventh-day Adventism, and will welcome dialogue with the broader community.
Fostering the spirituality of its staff and students has been at the centre of Avondale’s Mission since its establishment in 1897. This emphasis is clearly evident in the “Introduction” of the earliest surviving “Calendar”, that of 1899, which opens with the words, “True education is the co-operation of man with God in working out the plan of redemption; it is a process by which God works in man to restore His image in the soul.” It states in its second to last paragraph that “The present is emphatically an age of reform, and we profess to be a progressive people. The gospel message for this time is a three-fold message, its work being to reveal three phases of truth, physical, mental, spiritual.” [“Third Annual Calendar: The Avondale School for Christian Workers, 1899,” pp. 9, 12]. The commitment of the early leaders of Avondale to the three-fold development of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of their student body was reflected in a very practical way in the way the student’s time was arranged. “A daily program was published in the Announcements between 1903 and 1915, and the information given there and elsewhere in the Announcements reveals the following result. Each five-day week was organised in a way which allocated the following number of hours: 9.75 to religious exercises (including morning and evening worships and chapels), 22 for classes (including 1 hour to spelling; 1 hour to music, 5 hours to industrial training, and 15 hours for academic study); 11.25 for study, 12.5 for work. Saturdays (observed strictly as Sabbaths) were devoted to religious exercises and evangelism, and most Sundays were spent in a physical labour program” [Robert K. McIver, “Physical, Mental, and Moral Education at Avondale College,” Adventist Heritage 16/1 (Spring 1993) 53; Cf. “The Future of Theological Education in Australia – A Case Study: Avondale College,” Colloquium 25 (1994) 96-98].
Subsequent to its 19th century beginnings, the Avondale School of Christian Workers has transformed itself into the Avondale Missionary College, and more recently Avondale College of Higher Education. Currently it is seeking government approval to become Avondale University College. This trajectory from secondary school, through a teaching-focused tertiary educational institution, to an institution poised to become recognised as a research and teaching focused University College, has brought great changes. But throughout its history, spirituality has remained at the core of Avondale’s values. The Avondale Spirituality and Worship Research Centre is a tangible representation that this core value remains central to Avondale as research becomes a greater part of the activities of Avondale’s faculty members and students.
The Spirituality and Research Centre is establishing professional and other resources. It is working to establish links with academics from all parts of the world – including Australia, naturally – who are actively involved in researching topics related to Spirituality and Worship, and would welcome inquiries from interested academics. The centre is negotiating to make available relevant data sets to suitably qualified researchers for further investigation, and is working with the Centre Board to establish policies regarding access to such databases.