Ross Clifford Principal
Kel Willis Outgoing Chair of Morling College Council/Board
Bill Rusin – Incoming Chair of Morling College Board  

Campus Transformation
Let us update you from the last Assembly. The Ministry and Learning Centre (MALC) is now fully operational, and we are very pleased with the positive responses that have been received. For example, the Master’s Builders Association has awarded the MALC builders the 2020 Excellence in Construction Award for all Tertiary buildings up to $50 million. We much appreciate the good work of our builders (Grindley), our architects (Stanton and Dahl), our interior designers (DEM), our clerk of works (Steve Quadrio) and especially our property consultant (Ian Gray). In fact, it would be good at this Assembly to affirm their sterling efforts and advice. Of course, none of this could be done without the tremendous support of Steve Bartlett and his team, David Slinn and the BFS team, as well as the Morling Board and our Honorary Legal Advisor (Geoff Moore).  

Other developments on the Sydney campus are the refurbishment of the Eldridge Administrations Centre, which is now our Ezra Centre (Counselling Clinic) and includes our Counselling, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care offices and counselling rooms. The National Church Life Survey have relocated to our campus and this brings good interaction between the Ministry Centre, Morling and NCLS staff. Horizons Family Law Centre has also joined us on campus, and it is pleasing to see a number of their lawyers are Morling graduates. 

We thank God that the vision affirmed at the 2006 Assembly has reached this exciting stage. For those who may be new to Assembly, the adopted vision is below. 

Vose Seminary 
Assembly would be aware that Vose Seminary (Baptist College, WA) has merged with Morling, as of January 1st, 2021. There is now one College, with one Board and Leadership. It has been a busy period as new staff contracts have had to be approved and signed, as well as a number of legal contracts for the transfer of the Vose College. The support of the Board, Honorary Legal Officer and BCWA leadership has been much appreciated during this merger process, as is the commitment and the encouragement of our Morling staff. We have also relied greatly on Peter Murphy, our consultant.  

The Leadership now comprises Gayle Kent (Community Life Officer), Peter McCrindle (Chief Operating Officer), David Starling (Chief Academic Officer), Kerry Puzey (Chief Administrative Officer) and Ross Clifford (Principal). Michael O’Neil has been appointed the Dean of Vose Campus and will also attend Leadership Team meetings when required. We thank God for the ministry of Rev Dr Brian Harris, who has retired as Principal of Vose, but continues to serve Morling College in a lecturing capacity. This merge was very much dependent on the support of Mark Wilson and Steve Bartlett (the respective Directors of Ministries for WA and NSW).  

This is a historic time for our ministry coast to coast, as we continue to serve committed to our evangelical and Baptist heritage.   

New Initiatives  
 With God’s leading we have initiated a scholarship program that is consistent with our denominational goal of 1000 Healthy Churches. Over the next three years $1 million will be released for Bible and Theology, Counselling, Chaplaincy and Education scholarships as well as $300,000 for Tinsley scholarships, which focus on evangelism and mission. The Board and Leadership agreed with the vision of the Principal that the initial funds should be found from some of our current assets. We are looking forward to Churches and others, where appropriate, matching our scholarship grant so the scholarship facility will continue sustainably beyond these three years. We are thankful for Steve Bartlett and his team, as together we are working towards equipping our future leaders. In fact, the scholarship panel includes members from the Ministry Centre team.  

Professional Supervision is an important expanding field of practice. The Royal Commission found that all people in religious or pastoral ministry should have professional supervision with a trained professional. Working with both campuses, Morling is developing a graduate certificate of Professional Supervision (units of study available 2021), that will be a benefit to our Pastors and Churches. If you are interested in pastoral supervision, please contact the College. 

The Morling Board has approved a vision and strategy document for 2021, which focuses on developing the merged Vose and Morling campuses. A new three year vision/strategies for 2022-2024 is being developed. If anyone would like a copy of the strategies, please email  

Academic and Pastoral Matters 
For all of us 2020 has been challenging year. We have responded to government initiatives, with respect to COVID-19 and have ensured that the college operates within all guidelines. This has meant most of our classes have been delivered on campus, livestream, recorded and online. Because Morling already had an advanced online program we could quickly adjust to COVID-19. The MALC classrooms allowed us the delivery flexibility we needed. We have kept in touch with all students and monitored their progress in these extraordinary days. We thank the staff for their extra work and commitment that allowed us to make such a smooth transition. Morling is committed to leading the way in what the COVID experience means for future education. Be assured that all of our courses are available and will be delivered in ways that students can access them irrespective of their circumstances. With respect to Residential College your prayers are appreciated, as COVID-19 has had an impact on resident applications. Please continue to encourage tertiary students who are considering a residential college in Sydney to look at Morling, which offers strong pastoral support.  

At this Assembly we are hopeful that we will be able to present the new Dean of Education. This is a significant ministry as we work together with our schools to enhance the equipping and development of teachers. Aside from our current postgraduate courses we are producing a submission to TEQSA to request accreditation for a Doctorate in Education.  

Sadly, after much prayer it was decided that our gap year (Plunge) program would not continue in its current form. This was after consultation with the Ministry Centre and other key stakeholders. We are entering into a MOU with the Ministry Centre for developing new initiatives with respect to school leavers. We thank God for the blessing Plunge has been and for all who have faithfully served in this ministry.  

A priority for this year will be to ensure that there are good relationships between the Morling and Vose campuses and a strengthening of our culture. In this regard a report (People and Teams Project Insight) is being prepared by our new Chief Administrative Officer, which will assist the Board, leadership, and staff as we move forward together.  

New Publications (Morling Press) 

In 2020 we published 

  • Not in Kansas Anymore: Christian Faith in a Post-Christian World  
    Edited by Darrell Jackson, Michael Frost and David Starling. 

Books in process:  

  • Rise- Reimagining the Resurrection Life  
    by Ross Clifford and Jim Baucom 
    How resurrection living reverses the fall and restores discipleship based on Genesis 1 & 2. 
  • Noah Challenge  
    By Philip Johnson  
    Our stewardship of all creation.  


2020 Main Events 

Graduation has always been a highlight for our denominational year. A modified graduation took place in 2020 in light of COVID- 19. Some 200 students graduated, and many chose to receive their award online or attend a future graduation. Approximately 50 graduates attended, and the service focused on prayer for each student. It was a special time and as a result we will consider the shape of future graduation services.   

Main Events for 2021 

  • Graduation (March) 
  • Open Forums- Hermeneutics and Genesis (March) 
  • Faith in Action- Morling College Counselling, Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Conference (May) 
  • Open Forum- Putting Faith to Work (May) 
  • Open Forum- Developing Pastoral Resilience and Sustainability (June) 
  • Preaching Conference- Preaching the Prophets, keynote speaker Dr Galen Jones (June [COVID permitting]) 
  • Transforming Vocation: Work and Faith Conference (July) 
  • Open Forum- Bioethics (September)  

Other Morling College Council/Board Participants:  

Deputy Chairperson 
Rev Angelo Gratsounas 
Peter Adcock (till October 2020) 

Other Directors 
Rev Ian Deane, Dr Beverley Moore, Assoc. Prof. William Peirson, Dr Alan Rice (Chair, Academic Board), Rev Richard Sindel, Rev Dr Brian Powell, HashiniPanditharatne, Rev Neil Dawson and Helen Blanch (from October 2020). 

Other Attending 
Rev Dr Stephen Bartlett (Director of Ministries), Geoff Moore (Legal Advisor), Peter McCrindle (Board Secretary).  

At our November 2020 Board meeting Rev Kel Willis indicated he will not be nominating for Chair. The Board members took the opportunity to thank Kel for his 20 plus years of service as Chair and 34 years on the Board. Kel continues on the Board until the 2021 Assembly and in his role as Chair of the Morling Foundation. The Board affirmed his leadership in ensuring a focus on core purposes, as well as balancing gentleness with firmness, and his evident love for the Gospel and students. During his time as Chair he served on the Assembly Council and Steve Bartlett spoke warmly of his contribution to the wider Baptist community.   

The Morling College Board met six times in 2020. In addition, the Directors participated in regular subcommittee meetings to oversee academic matters, property development, finance, residential accommodation, risk management and human resources.