Auckland University Chaplaincy Network


What the network is.

PAST : The Chaplaincy Network has been running since late 1990. It began as a means of drawing together many people in the university who were engaged in Christian ministry of various sorts. The intention was to encourage mutual support and encouragement, to provide a forum in which different groups could discuss issues and help each other, and to establish a collective nucleus to which people wishing to become active in ministry in the university might address themselves to find out what was going on. All sorts of ministry were included, and students were strongly represented. The network was not seen as a function of the "official" chaplaincy, and indeed was set up to augment chaplaincy activities, which had recently been curtailed by the disappearance of the ACC chaplain. Later, regular meetings for fellowship were started.

PRESENT : At the moment, the Chaplaincy Network is a group of people who meet ( approximately ) weekly for an informal talk about some Christian topic. It's a friendly group, and we are not deadly serious all the time, though we can be if the occasion demands. We have no formal structure, and have so far managed very well without it.

For no good reason, the regular members of the group are predominantly chaplains and academics. This is not intentional; anyone interested is most welcome - see "PAST" above - and a bit more variety would do us no harm at all.

COMMENT : The change has been evolutionary rather than the other. We originally had formal meetings with chairman, secretary, and minutes, at which representatives of the different ministry groups ( only rarely including an official chaplain ) would say what they'd been doing, and points of interest discussed. Some people were significantly helped in various ways - but if you're busy you need quite a bit of incentive to spend a lunchtime every other week on an activity that might bring you a bit of return once a year. Perhaps not surprisingly, attendances dwindled, and meetings became less and less frequent. The fellowship meetings kept going, but with the dilution of the associated ministry emphasis lost some of their original special quality. After the first spurt of activity, the network has been practically invisible, and as the original set of students moved on there were no replacements. Perhaps in compensation, the more regular attendance of the chaplains added another dimension, and that was very welcome.

What the network has done.

Through the years it has evolved through various forms, and will doubtless continue to do so.

Real World : As perhaps its most visible activity, the Chaplaincy Network started publishing Real World in 1992, and kept it going ( sometimes a bit tenuously ) until November 2005. It never really hit its original target ( the first issue was intended for tertiary students throughout Auckland, and also promised six issues per year; by the second issue, that had dropped to at most four per year, and I don't know that it ever had much circulation outside the university ), but successive chaplains said that they got significant reactions to the issues, so it must have done something.

Other ministry : This has been spasmodic.

 - In 1995 ( ? )
we tried a sort of outreach based on weekly meetings in PLT5, but advertising was pathetic - which was perhaps as well, because we didn't keep to the original timetable anyway. A few students turned up to one or two of the talks, but didn't come again, doubtless depressed by the overwhelming atmosphere of middle-aged academics. But that's all we had.

 - In 1997 ( after intensive planning in 1996 )
we offered two cycles of the Alpha course. I think they were worth doing, but they didn't go like the examples in the Alpha course books.

 - In 1999
we worked through a draft introductory course in Christianity, intended as an alternative to the Alpha course. We decided that the principle was good, but that the details of the course needed much further development. No one has yet got round to the development, but perhaps someone will.

What the network does.

Weekly meetings : Inevitably a mixed bag, but almost always interesting and informative. I enjoy them a lot, and bend my timetable to get there if I can. I've certainly come to know a lot more about the chaplains and university chaplaincy through these meetings, and that alone has been worthwhile. But most of the time that's all.

What's happening this year ( 2007, just in case I forget ).

We are meeting weekly in Newman Hall on Mondays at 1.00 p.m., or so, in Seminar Room 1 - on the top floor a bit to the right as you come up the stairs. If you get there on time and find no one there, hang about for a while. As I write, for once, our programme for this semester is up to date. Meetings are advertised in Next Week, unless I forget, and provided that I know what's going to happen a bit in advance.

Worked examples - what happened in times past.

It would be interesting to record all the Chaplaincy Network's activities here, but it would take time. As of now, all I've put here are the bits originally made electronically and not thrown away. All of these record topics discussed at our meetings. If anyone wants to transcribe my vastish collection of bits of paper, don't hesitate to get in touch !


Alan Creak,
2007 May.

Here's the University Chaplaincy web page, in a manner of speaking.