Rev Gary van Heerden, Chaplain at Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) was admitted as a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church in Australia on Tuesday 13 March, at the college.
Dr Kate Hadwen, Principal of PLC wrote about this joyful occasion in the PLC newsletter.
“Inspiring is a word that’s often used within our community, and rightly so,”she wrote.
“This week, we celebrate with Rev Gary as he is admitted as a Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church in Australia. Originally a Methodist minister, this transition has been a journey for Gary over the past almost seven years, since he began working at PLC in 2011. Gary has served in seven churches in South Africa along with spending two months working as a gardener in a silent community in Switzerland and three months as the van driver on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. In addition to serving as a minister, Gary is a qualified psychologist and has lectured in this subject at the University of Fort Hare.
“At a quick glance, synonyms for inspiring include encouraging, heartening and uplifting. Far greater than his qualifications or experiences, Gary brings to our PLC community an unparalleled combination of humility and inspiration. Perhaps this is what makes him so unique and so loved by staff and students alike,” Kate wrote.
“Gary leading circle conversations with small groups of girls is one of the most powerful experiences to witness. His passion for outsider witness practices and narrative therapy is such a gift to our students. For the past three years after the student leadership retreat when we ask the girls what was the most powerful experience they had, most cite the session with ‘Rev’.
“Beyond the knowledge and skills he brings to the role, is his strong sense of service and humility. In speaking after the Service of Admission, in true Gary form, he thanked the Uniting Church for ‘taking a chance on me’ and spoke of his desire to serve both the Uniting Church and PLC.
“At times, we look to famous role models to find inspiration when often the ones in our lives who are most inspiring are right beside us, in the background, quietly encouraging and lifting us up,” Kate wrote.