Think&Do in my words: What Avondale’s appeal for research means for these academics

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Avondale’s giving campaign uses a phrase from founder Ellen White to seek support for research that improves lives, but what does this look like?

Three academics—President Professor Ray Roennfeldt, Christian Education Research Centre director Dr Peter Kilgour and Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek—respond in a series of interview videos ahead of the Avondale Offering collected in Seventh-day Adventist churches across the South Pacific on Sabbath, June 9.

Think&Do is based on a statement from a book exploring biblical principles of Christian education. White wrote it for parents and teachers. “Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do,” she writes (Education, p. 17). Those in whom this power is developed bear responsibilities as leaders who influence character, she adds. “It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.”

She is saying “you need to adapt to the changing circumstances, and you need to provide a framework which will be meaningful for the people you interact with,” says Dr Skrzypaszek.

White published Education in 1903, only six years after she helped found Avondale—she formed much of her philosophy on Christian education during her time in Cooranbong, the town in which the Lake Macquarie campus is based. Adventists believe White, who also helped found the church, exercised the gift of prophecy.

An “inspirational visionary”, Dr Skrzypaszek says she issues this challenge: “develop a clear understanding of what it means to live in the real world. She’s saying it’s for the benefit of humanity, in order that you may provide the best service. And in order to provide the best service and to help people re-discover themselves, you also need to be educated, you need to a clear thinker. It’s not just a matter of repeating what others are saying, but go into that area of research, try to understand yourself, in order that you may interact with people in that framework in which they find themselves.”

Dr Kilgour gives examples of how research can provide best service for principals, teachers and parents. The research centre he directs examines recommended 21st century pedagogical concepts, applies them in the context of Christian education and analyses the impact. “For a teacher to know that what they’re doing is actually making a difference to the learning of the children in their class . . . then that increases their job satisfaction. When they ask questions such as, ‘I wonder if what I’m doing is actually working?’, ‘I wonder what the parents perceive is the value of some of the activities that I do in the classroom?’, ‘I wonder if this curriculum is actually adding value to the subject that I’m teaching?’, when teachers ask those sorts of questions, using research methodology, we can actually give them the answer.”

“All of us have this curiosity,” says Prof Roennfeldt. “We want to know what makes things tick, and we want to know how to make them tick better.” 

Donating through the Think&Do campaign will primarily support Avondale’s four research centres as they seek a better understanding of Christian education, health and lifestyle, teaching and learning and spirituality and worship. “The research that we’re doing tells us how to live healthier and happier, it tells us what good education is like, how students will learn better, it tells how to relate to God better,” says Prof Roennfeldt. “All of that impacts your life and my life.”

Avondale Offering videos

Avondale College of Higher Education has produced a series of videos to promote the Avondale Offering. The offering, part of Think&Do, is collected in Seventh-day Adventist churches across the South Pacific this Sabbath (June 9, 2018). The series features a promotional video and includes three shorter interview videos featuring Ellen G White Seventh-day Adventist Research Centre director Dr John Skrzypaszek, Christian Education Research Centre director Dr Peter Kilgour and President Professor Ray Roennfeldt. Visit to view the videos.


Visit to choose a project or a scholarship to which you can give as part of the Think&Do campaign. Donations above $2 are tax deductible in Australia.

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