LOGOS – where no one gets left behind
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.