1962-1963 / LTh (Henderson Campus)
BTI (and God behind it) caused a life revolution for me. I will always be grateful for the bold and creative leadership shown by "Bunny" Burrow, this brash Australian who pitchforked BTI into the 20th Century. I still shake my head in wonder at how he took a disparate group of anything-but-intellectual students straight into studying for and completing the Melbourne College of Divinity diploma in two years flat - twice the speed of the Baptist College students of the day!
I still remember the set texts carrying the grave warning: "This book is liberal in outlook." I rather hope such warnings no longer exist. Also, the sheer joy of study which took me down some bypaths unexpected by our lecturers; for two or three weeks I largely ignored our set curriculum to romp joyously through "The Ante-Nicene Fathers" a hefty 12 volume set published in Buffalo, New York in 1885. I so hope they remain on the College library shelves to this day.
And what great models of Christian faith and scholarship our lecturers were! "I thank my God on every remembrance of you." Rob Kirkby, Frank England (who told me I had to go to university at the end of those two years, because the way the world was going, the College Diploma was only the first step), Les Rushbrook (whose face shone like Moses), Warnock Watson (who quite amazingly got a very unmusical bunch to put on a public performance of Stainer's "Crucifixion") and others also.
These days, I wonder at why we never wondered about the absence of female or Māori lecturers, but it was the zeitgeist of the early 60s. And other staff too shaped us for a lifetime; from the indefatigable Miss Jaggers to Owen Henton who quietly shared the joys of the orchard with us.
As for what's happened since, I went into Bible College thinking God had called me to literacy work in India; I finished up as an educational psychologist and then teacher's college lecturer in New Zealand, followed by several decades as a university lecturer in Australia and then as a university ombudsman, before returning to New Zealand to marry again, this time to Patricia Allan (née Robinson) who I first really got to know at BTI in 1963... "How good is the God we adore..."
So much more remains to be said, by those more eloquent than I am. BTI taught me I had a brain, and how to use it. It opened the pathway to university study, something I'd never dreamed of. Years later, I asked Pam, my first wife, if she would have married me if I hadn't done such study. She looked me in the eye and said, "Probably not."
I’m currently volunteering all over the place - anything to avoid sitting at home playing Patience on the computer! In this last decade, I have taught English as a second language to migrant refugees; tutored senior Māori high school students in homework study at university; planted native plants with Forest & Bird, plus working parties removing wilding pines; served Red Cross as an emergency driver for Meals on Wheels; kayaked the River Avon to remove rubbish from its floor; served DOC as a Seal Watch volunteer in Kaikoura. Plus, I’m singing the praises of electric cars to all and sundry.
At 83, I’m grateful to God for a healthy mind, body and spirit. In terms of my journey on The Way, I sometimes reflect on how Peter Hallinan in his 20's and Peter Hallinan in his 80's are mutually horrified by each other's views, and both with equally good reason!