Journalist opens up at Homecoming concert


Cooranbong, New South Wales

A journalist and broadcaster criticised the profession’s wariness of religious issues after candidly declaring her faith during Avondale College of Higher Education’s Homecoming concert.

. . . the best journalists work with a sense of conviction but 'do not know how to handle religion'.

In an interview midway through Hymns and Songs of Praise, Geraldine Doogue described her Christian faith as giving her life “solace and ballast”. The host of Compass on ABC TV and Saturday Extra on ABC Radio National said the best journalists work with a sense of conviction but “do not know how to handle religion”. Their hesitancy to ask about a belief system “is a real pity” because “[asking about it is] often the best clue you’ll get to try and understand a person”.

Geraldine’s return as host—she played the same role at the most recent Hymns and Songs in 2012—helped fill Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist church.

Murdoch Lecture

The annual Murdoch Lecture explored the role of religion in academe. Speaker Dr Lawrence Geraty, president emeritus of La Sierra University (Riverside, California, USA), used Avondale’s values statement to remind those attending why they associated with a Seventh-day Adventist tertiary institution. Adapting text from a philosophy brochure of the Markham Woods Seventh-day Adventist church, Lawrence described Avondale as “a place where people seek to become all that God has in mind for them to be”.

Graeme Frauenfelder creatively welcomes alumni and students to 7.28. [Photo courtesy: Ann Stafford]


Teachers received most of the citations at Homecoming. Avondale Alumni Association’s Alumna of the Year Adele Rowden-Johnson worked in technical and further education for 10 years before her first contact with what is now Southlakes Refuge. “I was only meant to stay for a short while, then return to TAFE teaching. God had other ideas.” The association honoured the former managing director for her dedication in caring for and raising awareness of women and children who are the victims of abuse or domestic violence.

Alumnus of the Year Cliff Morgan turned down multiple offers from the Adventist Church to teach in its schools, promising instead that once retired, he would serve the mission of the church at his own expense. Cliff made good on his promise after a visit to the Solomon Islands and to Papua New Guinea in 1995. The church’s greatest need in those countries: finding sponsors for local missionaries to grow churches in isolated areas. So began Volunteers in Action, a ministry that has now led to more than 16,000 baptisms across the South Pacific.

Chris Koelma received the Young Alumnus of the Year award for sharing the universal language through performance and education. The composer and bass guitarist has been heading primary music at schools in Argentina and Malaysia since graduation.

Members of the class of 1974 pose for more modern memories. [Photo courtesy: Ann Stafford]

Seven other alumni, one from each of the Homecoming honour years, joined Adele, Cliff and Chris as citation recipients: evangelist and field archaeologist Pastor David Down (1944); academic Dr Laurie Draper (1954); missionary Coral Camps (1964); teacher and treasurer Harvey Carlsen (1974); principal Mark Vodell (1984); teacher Anthony Hibbard (1994); and communicator Adele Nash (2004).

Alumni Heritage Day

Homecoming closed on the lawns of “Sunnyside,” the Cooranbong home of Adventist Church pioneer Ellen White. A breakfast preceded a presentation by Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek and tours of the house and the South Sea Islands Museum.

Alumni enjoy breakfast at “Sunnyside”. [Photo courtesy: Ann Stafford]