Mamarapha College celebrated their graduation on November 20 at Livingston Adventist Church, WA, and saw 15 students graduate with an array of certificates, diplomas, and advanced diplomas, and 12 students receive progression awards.
The weekend also saw a baptism and the commissioning of Connie Toga, a Mamarapha College pastoral ministry graduate and the first Indigenous female to be commissioned into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The college has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 interruptions and borders closures over the past two years. In 2020 they were only able to conduct one of the 11 scheduled classes and although in 2021 face-to-face classes could be conducted again, the college experienced a substantial decrease in student numbers.
“Despite these negative impacts it was nice that we were able to celebrate graduation and several achievements to finish the year,” said Mamarapha College principal, Pastor David Garrard.
The theme for graduation was God’s calling, and the keynote speaker was Pastor Darren Garlett, Australian Union Conference (AUC) ATSIM Director.
“Pastor Garlett delivered an insightful message as he challenged all students with Jesus’ words in John 15:16 to live in accordance with God’s specific calling on their lives to ‘go and bear fruit’, despite the trials they will encounter,” said Pastor Garrard. “He explained God’s calling is ‘the most exciting journey offered to mankind’.”
One of the graduates, Susan Doolan, lives in Aputula community in the remote region of the Finke, NT. She is the first person from that area and wider remote areas of NT and SA to receive a Diploma of Indigenous Ministries. Ms Doolan has a special ministry in the local school and teaches the children about Jesus through drama and music.
Another student, Soani Vosalevu, achieved the highest qualification offered at Mamarapha College, an advanced diploma of Indigenous pastoral ministry. Soani has been working as a chaplain at Karralundi school in WA and has been called by the Northern Australian Conference to commence an internship in Darwin in 2022.
“Another highlight during the final 2021 study block was the baptism of Florence Williams on Graduation morning,” explained Pastor Garrard. “She is a Year 1 student who comes from Wujal Wujal community in far north Queensland just south of Cooktown and loves to share Jesus with her family and friends.”
The historic commissioning of Ms Toga was attended by president of the WA Conference, Pastor Steve Goods and AUC leaders, who joined via Zoom including, president Pastor Terry Johnson, secretary Pastor Michael Worker, associate ministerial secretaries Pastor Lyndelle Peterson and Pastor Brendan Pratt. Several Victorian pastors who were instrumental in Connie’s internship process also joined via Zoom.
The commissioning was a significant event for Mamarapha College as Ms Toga began her pastoral journal at Mamarapha College and has since returned to the college as the ministry coordinator.
“We have been blessed to finish the year on such a high note,” said Pastor Garrard. “We can see God working in our Indigenous communities and in our Indigenous ministries, and we cannot wait to see what His leading brings in the years to come.”