Avondale Homecoming honours alumni


One of Avondale College of Higher Education’s longest-serving staff members is now its Alumnus of the Year.

Alan Thrift received a standing ovation as he accepted the Avondale Alumni Association’s highest award during the worship service at Homecoming.

One of Avondale College of Higher Education’s longest-serving staff members is now its Alumnus of the Year.

President Pastor Desmond B Hills presented the award in recognition of Mr Thrift’s dedication to musical excellence, particularly at Avondale, his gift as an educator and his contribution as a mentor. He acknowledged his 41 years as head of the then Music Department and noted his achievements as including: conducting the Avondale Symphonic Choir in the first television broadcast of a choral program in Sydney; organising tours throughout Australia and to New Zealand and the United States; and serving for 20 years as musical director of the Sydney Male Choir.

Eight other alumni, one from each honour year, joined Mr Thrift as award recipients. Receiving citations from their classmates were: minister’s wife and retired cooking demonstrator and teacher Geneva Smith (1941); artist Melvin Duffy (1951); Dr Lloyd Willis (1961), a Professor of Religion at Southwestern Adventist University (Keene, Texas, USA) who also preached the Sabbath sermon; retired chaplain Dr Roger Henley (1971); minister Pastor Michael Brownhill (1981); Seventh-day Adventist Church youth leader Pastor Nick Kross (1986); nurse Marilyn Lewis (1991); and minister Leighton Heise (2001). 

Classmates connect: Iris Landa and Pastor Eric White at the 1961 honour year reunion.
Credit: Ann Stafford.

Alumni Lecture
Dr Marion Shields described Jesus as a “shiftless Nazarene” during the presentation of her “Outliers, misfits or something else?” paper at the Alumni Lecture on Friday. The senior lecturer in the School of Education at Avondale based her description on Jesus’ lack of education and employment and His nomadic lifestyle, while also noting His relationships with women and tax collectors and His praise of a Samaritan. His message? Not to restore our broken relationship with God but to heal broken relationships among people. Dr Shields noted the difference between the Pharisees’ definition of holiness—based on exclusivity—and Jesus’—based on inclusivity. Putting the latter into practice, particularly in the church, can be challenging, she said. “A healthy church often attracts unhealthy people, but a healthy church should be one of the few places where those people find love and acceptance.”

The Avondale Alumni Association dedicated the lecture to retired Seventh-day Adventist educator Dr John Hammond.

Annual general meeting
During the annual general meeting following the lecture, members of the association reelected Desmond and Jenny Laredo Hilder as their president and vice-president.

Reminisce, relax: Homecoming is for alumni who last studied at Avondale 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 years ago.
Credit: Ann Stafford.

Hymns and Songs of Praise
Avondale vocal ensemble The Promise and seven of its former members featured in a reunion performance at Hymns and Songs of Praise on Saturday evening. Tenor Dell Lawrence and mezzo-soprano Vivienne Calwell’s duet—the two sang “The Prayer”—moved the audience as did producer Dr Lyell Heise’s dedication of the final hymn, “Because He Lives,” to the 11 family members who died in the Slacks Creek house fire. The concert, produced by the church in the South Pacific’s Institute of Worship, almost filled Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church.