VET training brings hope to Christian education

Dr Elaine Ledgerwood began her new role at the Uniting Church Centre in August as Presbytery Minister Education and Training.

Elaine will be working in the VET sector (Vocational Education and Training), helping people gain a Certificate 4 in Christian Life and Ministry. Initially, this will be through the Adelaide College of Divinity, tailored to suit the Uniting Church WA. The course is aimed at people who want to explore and deepen their Christian faith, as well as those who want accreditation as a lay preacher.

“It’s actually really quite important for everybody to have education past what they learnt in Sunday School,” Elaine said. “And while of course Bible studies and the sermon on Sunday morning has a role in that, this is for people who want to explore things further and deeper and enhance their ministry in the church, whether that’s into a formal recognised lay ministry or just to be able to contribute better in their congregation or just for pure exploration of what theology is.

“In the VET sector we talk about contextualising. So it’s using what’s already in the workplace, in this case in the Uniting Church, to teach the concepts.

“If you do the whole Certificate 4, you will have done all the requirements to become a lay preacher.”

She also said the course could be a good option for people with English as a second language, as Elaine can support people with their language requirements through the course. And while she is still getting used to the role, Elaine said she’d love to introduce a ‘gap year’ course for young people either after high school, or after university or other training. She has had initial conversations with both the Uniting Church WA’s Uniting Generations and Multicultural Ministry to explore where education could be heading in these areas.

Elaine has worked in a range of fields that have led her to this moment. Having completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in ‘hope’, worked as an Occupational Therapist, in aged care, and adult education, she is ready to serve the Uniting Church WA in this new Presbytery role.

“I’ve known that I’ve wanted this for such a long time,” she said. “I’ve been involved in adult education at the universities for ten years and I loved it. What I loved about that was working with students who never thought they’d get into university.

“It all comes back to my ultimate passion: hope, which is what I wrote my research about. How do we encourage people to have hope? Education is an outworking of that passion to hope because you can do so much more with an education. It’s a real privilege to be part of that.”

For more information on this new role and what it could mean for you and your journey in faith and ministry, contact Elaine on 9260 9800 or email

Heather Dowling


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