From the Navy to the Church with Christ College Graduate David Hastie
For Christ College 2021 graduate David Hastie, the day to day of college was a far cry from his previous vocation. After finishing school in 2004, David joined the Navy as a part of the Australian Defense Force. For over 14 years he drove ships and did clearance diving, then he decided to go into full-time ministry.
David shares, “I felt called to go into ministry as a chaplain. So in order to fulfil that, I was led to study at Christ College full-time.” He enrolled in the Master of Divinity/Graduate Diploma of Divinity course for 2018, with the intention to become a fully ordained Presbyterian Minister and re-enter the Navy as a chaplain in the future.
A challenging start to study
From his first semester at Christ College, David said he felt the support and care of the staff and students. David shares, “When I started my first year [my wife and I] had our second child, pretty much straight away. She had a birth that was very tricky. And so that meant we spent about eight weeks in neonatal ICU [with her]. This was while I was trying to learn Greek and all my subjects. I felt extremely cared for and looked after by the staff and the rest of the community.”
Despite a challenging and emotionally tiring start to the year, David was able to still pass all his subjects and learn richly from the content. Much of this he puts down to the approachability and pastoral care of the Christ College staff.
Richer appreciation of God’s word and church tradition
Although he enjoyed all the subject matter in his degree, David highlighted particularly being struck by learning original languages. He says, “I don’t think I had a full understanding of the importance of [original languages] in terms of getting to the meaning of God’s word. So that was illuminating and something which I very much appreciated.”
In addition to an appreciation of the importance of original languages, David found his education at Christ College gave him a richer understanding of church history and the reformed tradition. While the contemporary church can be somewhat ‘anti-tradition’ in reaction to history, David came to appreciate the beauty of where the church has come from and how the reformed tradition can inform and help the practice of faith. He shares, “I appreciated learning more about the distinctives of the reformed faith and understanding covenant theology more.”
Forming strong relationships and community
Community is an important element of Christ College, and the structure of the college experience reflects that. Students and staff take part in a series of events each week to help foster relationships, including the Living for Christ lunch, Chapel and pastoral care groups.
For David, these activities helped him to forge real friendships with both students and staff. He says, “The friendships that you make [at Christ College] are really strong. The way they’ve structured their week really encouraged community.”
David describes the experience of being on campus as positive, saying “it’s just a nice environment to walk into. You feel safe and secure. [Plus] it’s a beautiful place to study in as well.”
Personal growth for a future of ministry
Having grown up in the Presbyterian church, and been an active Christian for most of his life, David is no stranger to life as a Christian. Studying at Christ College however has still been a time of personal growth as well as academic.
David shares, “One of the things I struggled with growing up is feeling guilty because I haven’t read my Bible or I haven’t prayed enough. And I think that’s a common thing that a lot of people who grew up in the church feel. While I’d been told you’re not justified by reading your Bible or your prayer, it can be hard for that to sink in.
Going to college has taught me it’s God’s word, through prayer and worship together, and the use of sacraments, that is God’s means of growing us. And so that flips that thinking of feeling guilty, to knowing it is how I grow as a Christian.”
Now that David has graduated college, he is working as an assistant minister at Hornsby Presbyterian, and plans to go back into the Navy to work as a chaplain in the future.
If you’re considering study at Christ College David says, “I would encourage people to study in some capacity. I think it’s really beneficial for our growth [as Christians] to know God’s word more and deeper.”
To learn more about courses at Christ College visit https://christcollege.edu.au/study/courses/
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