Uniting Church gives thanks for long and dedicated service

A service to mark the conclusion of employment of Dr Suzanne Boorer and Dr Nancy Ault with the Uniting Church WA was held on Friday 29 June at the Murdoch University Worship Centre. After the withdrawal of the Uniting Church WA from the Perth College of Divinity, Suzanne will continue as Academic Chair Religion and Nancy as Senior Lecturer in Religion at Murdoch University.

Suzanne and Nancy asked Rev Margaret Tyrer to preach at the service, on Proverbs 8:22-32 and John 1:1-18.

In a sermon called ‘Grace and Truth’, Margaret noted the importance of truth-telling that is not self-justifying to both the Wisdom of God in Proverbs and the Word of God in John. There can be no true reconciliation with it.

She said we like to think we shine a light on God, but God shines a light on us and finds widespread rejection of God’s very goodness.

“To receive Jesus and to believe in him necessarily includes receiving and believing his unflattering account of what our belligerent blood and wilful flesh do to his grace and truth,” Margaret said.

“For there is no reconciliation without this confronting truth, which is also potentially liberating truth.”

Rev Dr Michael Owen, Past Moderator of the Uniting Church WA gave thanks for the many years of service from Suzanne and Nancy.

“Dr Sue Boorer commenced in her role as Lecturer in Old Testament in the Perth Theological Hall in 1986 and, together with the other Perth College of Divinity staff, began to teach in the Murdoch University Theology Program as it started. The position became a joint appointment with Murdoch in 1994. Through the years, she has served faithfully as Lecturer, and then Senior Lecturer, in Old Testament, and has participated faithfully in the church’s program of formation, nurturing many candidates in their preparation for ministry, and teaching in the wider church,” Michael said.

“Dr Boorer has sought to inspire in her students a love of the Old Testament, introducing them to critical biblical scholarship, giving them skills in the art of critical exegesis, and in Hebrew. At the same time, she has engaged in extensive researching and publishing internationally, particularly in the area of the Pentateuch.

“Dr Boorer has also provided supervision for many higher degree research students. She has served as Principal of the Hall, and on Synod committees as well as national church committees. She has been President, and is currently Vice-President, of the Perth College of Divinity. She is currently Senior Lecturer and Academic Chair of the Theology Program.

“In 1999, the Synod of Western Australia welcomed Dr Nancy Ault as Lecturer in Practical Theology in the Perth Theological Hall in a joint appointment with Murdoch University. Since that time, Dr Ault has participated in the church’s formation of ministerial candidates. She has served as Director for Supervised Field Education and developed resources that have been recognised by the Australian and New Zealand Association for Theological Field Education. Dr Ault has nurtured students in spiritual growth and development and she has conducted workshops and retreats for the wider church.

“Dr Ault has introduced students to pastoral care, worship and liturgy, spirituality, homiletics, world religions, and community leadership.

“Dr Ault has also provided supervision for many higher degree research students. She has served on several Synod committees and she has been a long-standing member of the Learning and Teaching committee in the School of Arts. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Theology Program, working towards international recognition as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

“The church is grateful for this long and dedicated service,” Michael said.

Rev Dr John Squires, Director of Education and Formation at the Uniting Church WA, said he has appreciated the work of both Suzanne and Nancy over the many years.

“Personally, I have appreciated their scholarly contributions over that time, initially as colleagues in the national network of Uniting Church theological colleges, then more recently, as I have worked with them in the Perth Theological Hall Formation Program,” John said.

“Many ministers in Western Australia have been shaped by their approach to discipleship and ministry. In this final service, colleagues in ministry and former students have offered a public acknowledgement of that contribution. The evening has provided an appropriate closure to this long period of service, as the shape and structure of theological education changes.”

Read Rev Margaret Tyrer’s sermon in full here.

Photos: Sophia Lizares

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