Life led and shaped by the call of God with John Murray

“It is a privilege to be able to study these things in depth, and it really does bring me to praise God all in all – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” 

Final-year student John Murray first came to Christ College in 2011. As he was preparing for cross-cultural ministry, he enrolled to study the year-long Graduate Diploma of Divinity. John shares, “It was one-year full-time study to give me a better grounding in the Bible and to further equip me in what I was seeking to do.” After completing his diploma, he and his family moved to Central Asia for four years to do ministry there. 

When John returned to Australia and to Sydney, he worked outside of vocational ministry for some time, but God wasn’t done with him yet. John says, “God led me to start thinking about pastoral ministry. I was talking to a few people about it…in the church locally and more broadly, and it led me to think it would be a good time to pursue that.”

Returning to Christ College in 2020

For John, what initially attracted him to Christ College also brought him back. The community of college, the reputation of theological rigour, the confessional nature and its accountability to the Presbyterian Church were all things that made him love and want to return to the college. 

John says, “I also liked that it was a confessional college as a part of a confessional church, able to articulate well what the Bible said and how to handle it properly. How to understand and how to teach it.”

As he has gone through his Masters of Divinity, John has appreciated the structure of his training. He shares, “What stands out is how interrelated the study is, and it becomes more so throughout the course. So bible units, theology, church history, church practice, pastoral leadership, pastoral skills. All of them actually have given me such a greater breadth and depth of understanding and more than I would’ve thought. Then just seeing how interrelated they are has been so good.”

“It is a privilege to be able to study these things in depth, and it really does bring me to praise God all in all – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” 

Studying online versus in-person

As he started his Masters in 2020, John has spent a large portion of his time at Christ College navigating lockdown and online study. While the ability to continue training online was a blessing, it was also not the time at college that was originally planned. Now in-person study feels even more precious. 

John shares, “A fair bit of time we’ve spent at college has obviously been online, which I think has really elevated our understanding of how important and how good it is to do things face-to-face. Consider what happens between classes, or the discussion during class with lecturers and students? That sort of stuff and community has been so important.”

Throughout all his study John has found the care he receives at Christ College is so encouraging and helpful. He’s found the lecturers and staff truly embody what they teach, proclaiming Christ in all things – living in him and through him and by him and for him. Relationships with his fellow students have also been a highlight of his study, and something that John has definitely been able to better forge through his time in-person at the college. 

He reflects, “We can keep encouraging each other and that’s been really good. I think one of the best things about the College as a whole is that it’s just been a great privilege to see and experience the body of Christ in a really tangible way, working so well and so effectively.” 

Learning and leading in pastoral ministry

John has also been undertaking an internship alongside his study, with a position at Woonona Presbyterian Community Church. This internship has been key in his growth, and integrated so helpfully with his study. John shares, “The first year looked at pastoral care, the second year at leadership and the third at preaching and teaching.” 

While it hasn’t always been easy, God has grown John and shown him his own abilities. He says, “I’ve found my capacity to do the work has developed, which is encouraging. And learning how to learn has been good, and that’s obviously important for leaving college as well.” 

Now as he finishes up his study, John is looking to the future at what God has in store for him. As he also completed the candidacy process during his study, he has now been appointed as the pastor at Camden Presbyterian Church next year. John says of the opportunity, “That’ll be a great privilege to serve and build up God’s precious people there. To reach out to the community and proclaim the gospel will be great. It’s very exciting and very daunting at the same time. But I am so thankful to God for the way that he’s used college to prepare me for it.”

 

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