A Hybrid Homecoming: Avondale alum come in person and online for annual gathering

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Former students and staff members returned to Avondale in person and online for the university’s first hybrid Homecoming on August 26 and 27.

The event is establishing new traditions to extend reach while returning to others because alumni like to meet face-to-face.

The most engaging new tradition: the live streaming of an online-only interactive Memories Program. It featured the return of a well-received initiative: interviews recorded on Zoom with award and citation recipients. Performances of old and new hymns and songs provided segue ways to the video packages, while social media comments fed conversation between the hosts.

For the first time in two years, alumni gathered in person to worship on Sabbath. Music from Avondale Symphony Orchestra and Avondale Singers provided one of the talking points. The other: a sermon from 2012 alumnus Pastor Abel Iorgulescu, who revealed gospel symbolism in the story of David and Goliath. “We were encouraged and blessed by the excellence of presentation and the ideas and thoughts expressed,” wrote one alumnus who watched online with his wife. Another attended in person but wanted to share the live stream with friends. “[My wife and I] came away thinking how fortunate we were to have had the Avondale experience.”

The heart of Homecoming: the honour year reunions. All were in person, although several welcomed alumni online. One even had two hosts: on campus and on Zoom.

Alumni award recipients

Avondale Alumni honours an Alumna, Alumnus and Young Alumnus of the Year at Homecoming. It revealed the names of these award recipients ahead of the Memories Program.

Young Alumnus Mikaela Matthes (BA, 2016) has put her passion for helping others into practice “even when the opportunities have overwhelmed me.” She has worked as a child and family therapist for Uniting and now as a counsellor at Heritage College Lake Macquarie. Ms Matthes added a Master of Professional Psychology to her Avondale degree this past year.

Glenda and Peter Roberts (DipPrimTch, 1968, 1972) are the fifth couple to receive the Alumna and Alumnus of the Year awards. They would begin their first posting together—as teachers and librarians—at Kambubu Adventist Secondary School in Papua New Guinea before calls to Sonoma, Tweed Valley and Macquarie colleges. Their citation is for a commitment to mission service and the ministry of teaching that transforms lives. They have made that ministry even more effective by coordinating a Special Teacher Training Program for Fulton Adventist University College. The couple developed a Certificate of Education for the program and delivered it as an in-service for 350 untrained teachers in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. They did this over a decade in retirement.

Class citation recipients

Like the awards, class citations also recognise dedication to transforming lives, engagement with learning and discovery, and commitment to service. Receiving these were:

  • Dr Allen Sonter (Theological Normal, 1952) for servant leadership in Seventh-day Adventist education;
  • Administrator Ian Grice (DipAcc, 1962), whose conviction and dedication for improving policy and process supported church mission;
  • Ministry–teaching team Pastor Kevin and Glenda Amos (BA Theology, DipPrimTch, 1972) for serving church and community with a compassionate heart for others;
  • Educator Dr Jean Carter (DipTch, 1982) for a willingness to serve where sent and lead when asked;
  • Minister Pastor Owen Ellis (BEd, 1992) for learning and growing himself while humbly helping others do the same;
  • Laitini Matautia-Ulugia (BA/BTch, 2002) for using the arts in a cultural context to help students be their best, and;
  • Anna Bocchino (BNurs, 2012) for consistently demonstrating care for others, particularly those at a vulnerable time of their lives.
Dedication of Listening in the Morning by Dr Trevor Lloyd [Photo: Cybele Craig].

Dedication of alumnus’ devotional

Avondale marked 150 years of Adventist Education with the dedication on Saturday of a new devotional. Listening in the Morning is the work of 1952 alumnus Dr Trevor Lloyd. The book recognises the achievements of the church’s forebears and seeks to inspire a new generation of teachers. Among the presenters, Dr Lisa Beardsley-Hardy. As education director for the worldwide church, she praised the “unflagging efforts and dedication” of all teachers, administrators and staff members for adapting to the challenges of COVID-19. “The pandemic has elicited creativity, perseverance and sacrifice in the noble cause of educating for eternity.” Karlie Fraser (BA/BTch, 2012), a teacher at Avondale School, also spoke, reminding her fellow alumni why Adventist Education matters today. Dr David McClintock then offered a prayer of dedication in his role as education director for the church in the South Pacific.

Avondale’s new Val Kranz Duncan Memorial Organ [Photo: Cybele Craig].

Dedication on new virtual pipe organ

A second dedication followed during the Organ Homecoming concert. The university’s new Hauptwerk virtual pipe organ is now the Val Kranz Duncan Memorial Organ in memory of Val Duncan (1942-2019) and in recognition of the “support, love and gratitude of the Peter Duncan family.” Avondale Conservatorium patron and Duncan family friend Dr Lyell Heise invited Peter to stand as the audience showed their appreciation. “Generations of students, church members and community friends and supporters will always be grateful.” He also acknowledged the work of fellow patron Dr Wilf Pinchin, a former mathematics lecturer who designed and installed the speaker system and served as technical consultant to organ builder Ian Sell.

In his Homecoming welcome, Vice-Chancellor Kevin Petrie thanked alumni for their support. “They have this interest in our journey, not just now but decade after decade,” he told Alumni Relations Officer Rachel Humphries. He ended with this message: continue to engage and “above all, to pray.”

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