For the new year …

… I am going to diverge from writing about my research or even theology/biblical studies in general and post something more personal (yes, a few days late for the actual New Year’s Day, I know, but…)

I am currently on long service leave and officially finished as the Uniting Church chaplain to the University of New England on 31 December, although I have been on annual and study leave since mid November. The church’s current game plan is to replace me with two half time “mission workers” – students or otherwise theologically etc untrained people who seem to be going to be expected to work between them the same hours as I did, but for less than half the pay. Assuming, of course, that two suitable people apply.

The university public relations people did a rather nice piece about me which was clearly widely read by the university communty. As a result of this, I have had a fairly constant stream of people coming up to me on campus and in the shopping centre to tell me how sorry they are to see me go and that they think the Uniting Church is very stupid. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are committed Christians or rampant atheists or somewhere in between. Apparently, the ones who haven’t found me have told the various members of my family, all of whom work or study on campus. It’s comforting to know that I haven’t wasted the last nine years.

At the moment, as I said, I’m on long service leave until towards the end of February.  I’m using the time mainly to work on my PhD, which has suffered significantly over the last twelve months, but I’m also job hunting. The full time study has been great, although somewhat hampered by the fact that I haven’t had internet access on campus for over three weeks. The IT people didn’t test that the existing cabling would be adequate for the new all-singing-all-dancing internet system until after they installed the new hardware. Guess what? It wasn’t and Al the cabler was been too busy to fit recabling our part of the building in before Christmas and the uni has been closed since then.

The job hunting has been less great. By looking at a number of ministry profiles (similar to position descriptions) and talking to various people, I have eliminated a number of things that I don’t want to do, but am yet to find something that I feel I could commit to for the next 5 years. This is the expectation for most ministry placements in my denomination. There are several ministry positions coming up soon, but applications don’t close until the end of February or some time in March. A friend at the uni has offered me some short term research assistant work, but there’s nothing much going in the way of longer term work at the uni. Those in the know suggest that this will probably change when the new Vice Chancellor arrives in February.

So, in the meantime, I am contemplating the mysteries of the Gospel of Thomas and writing chapters of my thesis/dissertation interspersed with writing  job applications. Although in the week between Christmas and New Year, I mainly read novels and had a rest. A Facebook friend whom I’ve never met posted a wish on my wall that the best of 2009 would be the worst of 2010. I hope she’s right!

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