LO­GOS – where no one gets left be­hind

Central Leader - - EDUCATION& TRAINING - By FLORIS NIU

A few years ago I had a con­ver­sa­tion with Rev­erend Ale­sana McCarthy about a Chris­tian stud­ies pro­gramme he wanted to in­tro­duce to BEST Pa­cific In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion.

At the time, Ale­sana was BEST’s chap­lain – do­ing his daily vis­its with staff and en­sur­ing that ev­ery­one was happy and sup­ported in their roles. BEST is one of those unique work­places where pa­cific cul­ture and Chris­tian­ity went hand in hand with the teach­ing and sup­port of stu­dents. In say­ing that, BEST is by no means bi­ased in its ap­proach to all cul­tures, reli­gions and de­nom­i­na­tional pref­er­ence. If you study at BEST you will find a melt­ing pot of spir­i­tual people and eth­nic di­ver­sity.

Fast-for­ward to 2014 and Rev­erend McCarthy is still the well-loved chap­lain but he’s also the co­founder of LO­GOS – BEST’s School of Chris­tian Stud­ies.

Lo­gos proudly runs a level 3 Cer­tifi­cate in Chris­tian Stud­ies – a pro­gramme which fo­cuses on grow­ing people’s un­der­stand­ing of ‘‘what it means to be a Chris­tian in New Zealand in the 21st century.’’

In the last three years, LO­GOS has grad­u­ated al­most 100 stu­dents from the pro­gramme with some grad­u­ates con­tin­u­ing stud­ies in the­ol­ogy, while oth­ers have been em­pow­ered to bet­ter serve their church and com­mu­nity.

Founded three years ago, LO­GOS is a gift to the com­mu­nity from Anita Fin­ni­gan, CEO of BEST. The pro­gramme runs for a full year, one evening each week across the Manukau and New Lynn cam­puses. The stu­dents are pro­vided with a hearty meal each evening and the full cost of this year long pro­gramme is $100.

As I raced to catch the class on Thurs­day evening in New Lynn, and with­out know­ing I was join­ing them in their les­son, tu­tor pas­tor Derek Jones and his class wel­comed me into the fold. Af­ter find­ing com­fort in the blue sofa on the cor­ner, I found my­self com­pletely ab­sorbed in the evening’s topic: ‘‘The Birth of the Church’’ and the dif­fer­ence be­tween ‘‘Pen­te­costal and Evan­gel­i­cal’’.

It be­came clear that the pro­gramme was es­sen­tially ex­plor­ing God and Chris­tian­ity from all an­gles. The teach­ing style was very in­ter­ac­tive and in­clu­sive… it did not seem like a class at all, but more a gath­er­ing of like-minded people with a de­sire to know more about the his­tory of Chris­tian­ity and per­haps search­ing for af­fir­ma­tion in their daily lives as Chris­tians.

Derek Jones is a pas­tor him­self, how­ever he did not im­pose his own de­nom­i­na­tional views on the stu­dents. In fact, he en­cour­aged them and gave am­ple analo­gies for the stu­dents to open their minds to other per­spec­tives and in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the word. He had a candid but nar­ra­tive-rich style of teach­ing. It was en­gross­ing and the stu­dents had a strong rap­port with him.

I be­lieve this is what makes study­ing at BEST so dif­fer­ent from any­where else. At one point in his les­son, Derek de­scribed his goals and phi­los­o­phy for the stu­dents’ achieve­ment as the Hawai­ian word ‘‘Ohana’’ mean­ing fam­ily.

‘‘When you are part of this pro­gramme, no one gets left be­hind’’, he said.

The sen­ti­ment is echoed through­out BEST as a whole.

Pro­gramme man­ager Martha Farmer (Aunty Martha) ex­plains that LO­GOS is an­other plat­form for ‘‘people to be em­pow­ered through knowl­edge and the ex­plo­ration of the word of God…al­low­ing them to be free and be real’’. It is a place where stu­dents can ques­tion and chal­lenge the bi­ble’s teach­ings and in­ter­pre­ta­tions: ‘‘…to un­lock their true des­tiny in their Chris­tian walk’’.

The pro­gramme is led by Rev Ale­sana McCarthy, Martha Farmer (pro­gramme Man­ager) and sup­ported by Stephen So­lai, Pas­tor Derek Jones (Tu­tor) and Rev. Tala Fa’amausili (Tu­tor).

The next in­take for LO­GOS starts on April 14, 2014. To join the pro­gramme call 0800 425 624 for more in­for­ma­tion.

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