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Rachael Higgs

2001-2003, 2006, 2008-2009 / Graduate Diploma in Theology (Christchurch Campus/Distance Learning)

During my studies I had the great satisfaction of going to St Margaret's Presbyterian Church in Bishopdale, and of being there at the time of the minister Phil King, a very good minister, who is still busy working for the Presbyterian Church. It was also good to meet other new people – I was from Nelson so there were a lot of new faces to see.

One time, another student thought to show me, quite unexpectedly, a useful text to use – he was obviously quite familiar with the materials available in the library and was clearly aware of my newness to all this sort of thing. It also meant a lot to me that when our exams were due, Mrs Meadowcroft came and prayed with each one of us, which was a new experience to have someone do that for me.

And I remember Kathy Mayes (Christchurch Administrator) who was so friendly and helpful.

When nearing the end of a practical fieldwork involving visiting the elderly, I gave a Christmas card to an elderly lady. I remember how she seemed to want to hang on to it and not let it go – it must have meant something to her to be given a card. I think she did have some dementia, but it shows how important such a small thing can be.

The courses I took gave me a sound understanding of how to interpret the Bible, freeing me from only depending on what others said – if there is some interpretation about Scripture that seems a bit strange, I can look it up in the commentaries. This also means that I can continue to study Bible passages and books independently using the tools introduced to us at BCNZ.

After my studies, I took a short course in teaching English as a Second Language and did about 18 months of teaching in Sydney at various schools. I then worked at an apple pack house for six seasons, mostly grading apples and doing other part time work in between. Finally, after some voluntary library work at Bishopdale Theological College in Nelson, I have just finished ten years of part time library assistant work there.

I don't know what’s next, but I am hoping that even with Covid there will be something that is safe for me to do. I am too young to stop doing! My desire is to promote The Leprosy Mission's work, so hopefully there will be opportunities there.

I am enormously grateful to God that I had the opportunity to go to Christchurch to study theology, for the very good lecturers there and for the people I met (most of whom I have not seen again since!). There was an air of acceptance of each other – I was about fifty-seven at the time and found going back to study a bit scary, but there was no treating of anyone as if they were a problem.

I am also grateful for the Church I was a part of there, which was very sound theologically. I had tried one or two others, but St Margaret's was the one that I felt provided the things I wanted to find in a church. And as I have already said, I am grateful to be able to know how to interpret Scripture correctly.

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