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A Word From our CEO, Michelle Dempsey

Greetings CEN community! There is no doubt that as we head towards the Easter break and the end of term one, we can say ‘we’ve hit the ground running’ this year! With the recent and very successful Executives Conference behind us, we are focusing our attention on the development of our strategic directions in preparation for the upcoming CEN National Conference and AGM. We thank the Lord as an organisation for His grace and mercy as we seek to glorify God in all that we do.


Stuart Fowler

We were saddened by the passing of our good friend in Christian Education, Stuart Fowler. Stuart made a huge impact on the development of our National Institute for Christian Education, and on many educators prior to the formation of the National Institute. It was sobering recently to hear Rev Tim Costello reflect on the impact of Stuart’s ministry in his own life as a student at Melbourne University in the early 70s. I suspect we will never know the full impact of Stuart’s influence. Jack Mechielsen spoke at his memorial service, offering a wonderful reflection on Stuart.

Click here for Jack’s memorial reflection.

A simple booklet of tributes to Stuart’s ministry was available at the memorial service. If you are keen to have your own copy of this booklet, please email Melinda Storm.


Introduction of New Staff

We are certainly blessed to have a great team working at CEN and we have been pleased to welcome some new people to this team. Rachel McClure has settled in well as the SEO for NSW and ACT schools as well as CEO of the CEN Hub. Fiona Partridge has embraced her new role as SEO for our SA schools. In case you missed it, Fiona is also working closely with Chris Parker on the delivery and development of our Professional Development courses.



It’s also been great to welcome the wonderful Rod Thompson back to our team.  He’s making a great contribution and we are thrilled to have Rod’s input into our Professional Learning as our Coordinator of Biblical Foundations. Check out Rod’s spot in our eNews!

A Word From our Institute Director, David Gray

As many may already be aware, the National Institute for Christian Education turns 40 next year. In the lead-up to this milestone, we continually thank God for His provision and sovereign hand over such an important piece of the CEN movement.

To be involved in training up our teachers in ways that take seriously the public truth of the gospel is both an honour and privilege.

One of the greatest encouragements in this particular ministry is the manner in which Institute students (our teachers and administrators) lives are changed. Institute students regularly reflect that on the back of their study with the Institute that they were more energised, more passionate, and found their task in Christian education more manageable as a result of their study. Hearts are changed and for many, the Bible cuts through in ways that it never had before.

We continue to encourage all our school decision makers to deeply consider staff members placed under their care who will benefit and grow through engagement with the National Institute. Thank you to the many schools across the CEN network (and beyond) who faithfully continue to invest in their postgraduate training arm.

In conclusion, as an Institute, we continue to reflect on, thank God for, and celebrate the life and contribution of Stuart Fowler. The National Institute is better off for having the likes of Stuart as part of such a rich history.

A Word From our Academic Dean, Dr Beth Beech

Semester 1, 2018

Semester 1 has gotten off to a strong start with 13 new Master of Education and Master of Education (Leadership) students from Bayside, Plenty Valley, Dubbo, Annandale, Torrens Valley, Rehoboth, Maranatha and Melton Christian Schools/Colleges! A hearty welcome to all our new students.


Masters Graduates

On Monday 19 March, the National Institute for Christian Education celebrated with 19 teachers as they officially completed their post-graduate studies in Christian education. The graduates were awarded qualifications in:

· Graduate Diploma of Education
· Masters of Education
· Masters of Education (Leadership)

Please join us in congratulating the following graduates:

Graduate Diploma of Education

  • Jason Brown
  • Olivia Chapman
  • Daniela Repse
  • Truyen Duc Tran

Master of Education

  • Cheryl Brennan
  • Ben Heckathorn
  • Louise Kee
  • Susan Pedler
  • Chad Robertson
  • Jennifer Staj

Master of Education (Leadership)

  • Lara Curtis-Morris
  • Jannet De Bruyn
  • Rosy Ebenezar
  • Stephen Ey
  • Joanne Fahey
  • Dale Hamley
  • Dane Keane
  • Alastair Walker
  • Geoffrey Xeros


International Conference for Christian Educators

The Bethlehem Tertiary Institute (BTI) and IAPCHE Asia-Oceania (International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education), of which we are a member institution, are hosting an international scholarly conference “Modelling Christ’s Love and Hope within Professional Practice” in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand on 11-13 April 2018. Several National Institute lecturers will be presenting academic papers including:

Miriam Lili – Dramatising an apocalypse
Chris Parker – Digital Discernment: Moving from technological instrumentalism to discerning determinism as we disciple teenagers in Christian schools
Dr Fiona Partridge – Re-imaging leadership in Christian communities of learning
Dr Elizabeth Beech – Photo elicitation metaphors for determining postgraduate course efficacy

Click here for more information and registration details.


Semester 2, 2018

If you have been considering deepening your understanding of Christian education, particularly within the context of our CEN school community, we are now accepting applications from new students for the Master of Education, Graduate Diploma of Education or Master of Education (Leadership) courses for Semester 2.

Click here to begin this simple process through our Enrolment Portal.

If you are not sure you want to commit to a full course of study you may also enrol as a ‘non-award’ student for one or two of our core units; Biblical Foundations of Education and Worldview Assumptions in Education. A certificate is issued for these studies and they can later count towards the full award.

Click here to enrol and select ‘non-award’ in the application process.

A Word From our Professional Development Coordinator, Chris Parker

During pupil free days at the start of this year, hundreds of teachers at CEN (and some non-CEN) schools participated in professional development in distinctive Christian education foundations, pedagogy, and curriculum design. All teachers completed one of the Certificates in Christian Education. Many participated in a new workshop designed as a followup for those that have already engaged with Transformation by Design training. These teachers spent dedicated time focusing on the development of the Christian perspective when designing curriculum. Some feedback from these teachers follows:

“I found the whole day engaging and interesting. I enjoyed being challenged and thinking about my role in the classroom and the positive influence I can be with God’s enablement. Thankyou!”

“I really enjoyed this course and I feel a renewed enthusiasm for Christian Education. It was delivered in a professional and authentic manner.”


Online Courses Available

What is Christian Education?
A FREE 2 hour engaging course for new parents or new teachers

Board Member Induction
This is the perfect FREE induction course (CEN members only) for those who have joined a school board (or need a refresher). Fully accredited in NSW for boards wanting accredited training in that state.
Click here to enrol. 

Board Foundations
Designed for boards or individual members to work through and provides a detailed overview of the foundations of board governance. Fully accredited in NSW for boards wanting accredited training in that state.
Click here to enrol.

A Word From our Biblical Foundations Coordinator, Dr Rod Thompson

I am thrilled to commence working with CEN in this capacity. We have recently returned from nearly 12 years in New Zealand, where I was working at Laidlaw College. I now work as part of the ministry team at Springwood Presbyterian Church in Sydney’s Blue Mountains, as well as commencing in this role with CEN.

Christopher Watkin (Thinking Through Creation, 2017, p. 2) has recently asserted: “to explain the Bible to the culture in which we live is not enough; we must also explain the culture in which we live in terms of the Bible”. Educators and school communities seeking to practice education that is responsive to the good news of Jesus must take this challenge seriously. There is an urgent need for us to be deeply immersed in the Bible, not only so that we can love God, but so that we can discern the times and places in which we live, and be counter-formed as faithful witnesses by God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. The incisiveness of our educational work will depend very greatly on the biblical grounds from which we work. Let’s embrace this challenge together.

A Word From our Governance Coordinator, Kathy Pereira

Although Kathy is currently residing in Tonga, she is still working in a part-time capacity for CEN as our Coordinator of Governance. We look forward to sharing one of her projects at the AGM and National Conference in May. Kathy was recently caught up in the fury of Cyclone Gita which caused widespread damage across Tonga. We were so relieved to hear that she and her Tongan colleagues were fine. Kathy sends the following message to our CEN community.

Dear CEN friends,
I can’t believe I am almost finished Term 1 in Tonga. Thank you to everyone for your messages, prayers and support. In the 9 weeks or so I have been here we have managed to survive Cyclone Gita and despite the damage to buildings and crops, people have shown the most remarkable sense of community – sharing everything and literally opening their homes to strangers who have lost everything.

I am based at the main Free Wesleyan Church boys school, Tupou College, which has approx 900 boarders and is a village of about 1300 people in total. My role as Professional Development Coordinator is to pilot a program here for supporting the ongoing growth of the teaching staff. Many have limited training so this will become a vital part of their ongoing development. It is a privilege to be here and to walk alongside people who are keen to learn.

I am very grateful to God for the opportunity to see the world through different lenses and at the same time, check my own priorities. And I am also very grateful for the ongoing support and encouragement from Michelle and all at CEN. Please pray for the people of Tonga as they continue to live with the impact of such a major cyclone.

Executives Conference 2018

The CEN Executives Conference for 2018, The Elephant in the Room was a wonderful opp ortunity for building networks and certainly to be challenged. Thanks to all of those who attended. The warmth of engagement, the wrestling with tough topics, the fun of the Amazing Race and the great sense of fellowship was infectious.

Click here to access some resources from the conference including a lot of great photos! This one is one of my favourites!



State Executive Officers Gathering in February

It’s great when we get the CEN team together, including our State Executive Officers. This happened in February when we joined in meetings at the national office. Check out this photo of my wonderful team! I (Michelle) took the photo, I haven’t been shafted!

National Conference and AGM

The CEN National Conference (which includes the AGM for member associations) is a pivotal event in the life of CEN and its members. We are excited to be bringing you a challenging and exciting time of fellowship and learning. This year our theme is Perplexing Times: Resilient Schools. Our current cultural story is indeed, perplexing. You don’t need convincing that we need to be as prepared as we can be to meet the next challenge with grace and wisdom. In Christ, we find the resilience to face the obstacles and get excited about the opportunities.

Once again, we encourage you to send more than one member of your board and leadership team to this conference. Our conference is held at the quirky, unique, and very comfortable Mercure Hotel, which started off as a boarding house for public servants in the 1920s.

It is with much pleasure that we let you know that we have secured Steve McAlpine as our keynote speaker for our conference. Steve is the lead pastor of Providence Church Midland, WA, and is a dynamic speaker and writer. Steve was very well received at our Executives Conference in March 2016. It will be great to welcome him back.

Click here to check out some of his writing.

We will also be welcoming John Somerset from Somerset Education (the man behind our yearly financial survey), and Brian Cox, an international consultant in Christian Education. Brian has been a long time servant on our Christian Teachers’ Journal editorial committee and is a well-renowned speaker. There will, of course, be others that we will announce closer to the conference.

Click here to download the information pack.

Click here to register through the CEN website.


On Sunday evening (20 May), following the CEN National Conference in Canberra, a lovely event is held each year on a boat which slowly moves around Lake Burley Griffin. The event is the AGM for AACS.  This year this will also be AACS’s opp ortunity to farewell Martin Hanscamp (we will also be farewelling Martin at our Conference, so you won’t be missing out if you need to leave Canberra early). Details for this event are found in this flyer. Register early as the boat will fill quickly!

Christian Schools National Policy Forum

The annual Christian Schools National Policy Forum hosted by CSA commences on Monday 21 May. It would seem that many have not received the email sent by CSA flagging this event earlier in the year. Please note that due to the Great Hall being closed for refurbishment, the dinner is being held in the smaller Mural Hall. It is my understanding that these seats are now taken.

Click here for registration details. 

For those wanting to stay on at the Mercure ho tel after the CEN National Conference and AGM, and prior to the Policy Forum, please indicate that when registering for the CEN Conference.

A Word From our National Board

In a recent board meeting, the National Board worked hard towards defining our strategic directions for 2018 and beyond. This will be presented at the upcoming National Conference and AGM. The board was also keen for you to note the following:

  • Board nominations – refer to the information under AGM general information for your board to make nominations for national board members.
  • Christian Super – please note that Christian Super is also seeking nominations for board members. As a Principal sponsor for Christian Super, we would be keen to present some nominations to Christian Super. If you or your board have someone in mind, please forward these suggestions to Melinda Storm for the process to be initiated.

A Word From our Nurture Editor, Nina Edlin

52 Years!

This year is Nurture’s 52nd year of publication and we will have a new look and feel, a little bit of a refresh. In preparing to do so it has been wonderful to look back.

Nurture started when CEN was just beginning, it was understood that they needed a mechanism to continually communicate the heart of Christian education to parents and families. The editor at the time, Ray Hoekzema, noted in the first edition the intention to ‘strengthen the faith of parents who already sacrifice to provide for their children with Christ-Centred education’ and also the desire to prick the consciences of those who do not. It is interesting to reflect that now, 52 years later, the same intention is at the heart of the publication.

Each edition of Nurture is drafted with the following purpose:

  • To challenge Christian parents to a fuller and deeper responsibility towards the training and education of their children;
  • To bring before the Christian community the compelling claims of Christ-centred education which supports parents in this task.

As I grew up attending a couple of CEN schools, I had the opportunity to read Nurture on the way home on the bus, and while I didn’t realise it at the time, Nurture was having a shaping effect on my worldview, on my understanding of God’s sovereignty in all areas of life, and of the bigger picture around Christian education.

In this edition of Nurture we will hear from:

  • Chris Prior who unpacks what makes CEN schools unique.
  • Michelle Dempsey as she keeps us up to date with what has been happening with CEN.
  • Chris Parker reflects on parenting in the digital age, how we and our children can be connected and yet lack connection.
  • Patricia Weerakoon, following her presentation at the Principals and Executives Conference, looks at the developing teen brain and how we can encourage wisdom and self-control in this vulnerable time.
  • Simon Lainson, who’s article reflects on our relationship with prayer.
  • Penny Reeve looks how we can support families who foster children.
  • NT Christian Schools and Sandy Galea look at why and how we can help our children memorise scripture.
  • A student from Wellington Christian School shares her reflections on the Easter story.

As well as:

  • ‘What is Christian Education?’ free online course.
  • Details on our 2018 Photo Showcase.
  • We look how our boards are being trained in the Godly Governance Conference reflection.
  • Revamped Kids’ Page.

ITEC19 Planning

The planning for ITEC19 is going really well, as we continue to confirm some wonderful speakers both globally and nationally. We have confirmed the following speakers:

James KA Smith
David Smith
Jeff Bethke
Patricia Weerakoon

We are also pleased to note that Narelle Sketcher will be our MC.

The renovations and extensions to the SA Convention Centre are complete and a magnificent ven ue awaits us. Isn’t it lovely that they have done that for us. It is encouraging to hear plans that are underway for schools to bring their whole staff to this event in 2019.

Canada Study Tour

This is a fi nal call for those interested in the Canadian Study Tour to register interest with Melinda Storm as soon as possible. We are preparing to book flights and get this underway, however, there are still spots available. Come and join in this both rewarding and invigorating adv enture that will bring us in very close contact with our North American colleagues, across their beautiful country. A day visit to Banff and Lake Louise is also included.

Contact Melinda if you are keen.

A Word From AACS Executive Officer, Martin Hanscamp

Advice for Christian Schools on Christian Employment

One Christian school group (a member of AACS) has recently spent a large amount of money obtaining legal advice on the defensibility of requiring staff to be Christian and minimising the risk against discrimination claims. A lengthy document of advice resulted and it shows that these matters require consideration and time to digest and should be tailored to each organisation’s context.

It’s important to note that the protection afforded via ‘exemptions’ is presently under considerable challenge and that Christian schools should prepare for a changing context by being able to demonstrate that there is a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ for each staff member to be Christian. This involves ‘hard wiring’ explicit Christian belief and expectations into the school’s core documents (Constitution and Statement of Faith) and incorporating expectations for staff around lifestyle or support for school beliefs into appropriate documentation.

Even whilst we might not agree with a narrow and dualistic understanding of faith (ours is a holistic view that Christ’s rule involves “all things”) yet we need to understand that that is the commonly held (‘separatist’) view of religion in Australia and therefore that view will be applied to interpreting discrimination law. As such, Christian schools need to ensure that all staff are engaged in explicit ‘religious’ activity so that these aspects in a job description will meet a ‘genuine’ occupational requirement test, e.g. the requirement to lead devotions and prayer and not just to attend. Here, it is not enough to say that we require staff to be Christian but that we outline a ‘genuine’ reason for them to be so.

It is quite likely that following the SSM survey, and likely legislative change, that previously untested discrimination law in this area will soon become tested. Therefore, we encourage schools to review their documentation and processes and practices on an ongoing basis thereby maintaining character/ ethos and minimising risk.


A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER… (note the references of organisations below are not sponsors, just groups doing some interesting things that we’d like to encourage)

Christian Teachers Needed

Attention Teachers!

Did you know that one of the biggest concerns on the mission fields of the world is finding teachers to work in the schools where the children of Christian workers are educated?

Ove rseas Christian schools often need staff for a short-term placement that can be as little as one month or as long as one semester.

We believe there is a source of supply just waiting to be roused to action. Teachers who have retired or who have long service leave accrued might like to consider making themselves available for service in ov erseas schools for a short-term placement.

Have you ever considered spending time teaching ove rseas? Would you like to know what is available and where the needs exist?

If you would like to know more, please contact Richard Jessup from Interserve Australia either by phone (0415 426 406) or email (

The need is there; could you be part of the solution?


Bruce Burgess, the National Director of PeaceWise was recently visiting our national office and sharing the great work that has been done on the development of PeaceWiseKids and PeaceWise Youth.  Please refer to the link below for more information. Also, a professional development training around these new initiatives is taking place at Covenant Christian School, NSW on the 30 April. 


Click here for information on the professional development training day in April.

Click here to view the PeaceWise Kids promotional video.

RockSalt Arts

A number of schools have engaged with this Tasmanian performance duo, Steve and Hannah Cooper of Rocksalt Arts. Steve was recently teaching at a CEN school, Newstead Christian College. With a vision for people to “connect with and revel in creation and creativity,” they may be a great incursion for your school. You can follow them up through these links.

Click here to view their new video. 

Click here for their facebook page.

World Vision Student Leadership Conference

World Vision is working hard at re-defining their role in Christian Churches and Schools in Australia. They hold yearly day conference in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. You might like to check it out for your young leaders.

Click here for more information and tickets.