I believe my mission outlook and thinking were shaped at Whitley College. It provided me with a theologically-tested faith and my teachers have witnessed to me the grace of Christian life. My name is Ji Zhang. I work at the National Assembly of the Uniting Church as Theologian-in-Residence.
Whitley was not only a theological school but a home for a group of Chinese people who left after the 1989 Student Movement. Next year will be the 30th anniversary that marked the beginning of my theological formation.
My experience at Whitley has been life-giving. It established a solid academic foundation and has given me confidence to undertake further studies. I went to Boston in the US for postgraduate studies before returning to Australia and becoming a minister with the Uniting Church.
I came to Australia as a language student. I became a Christian and three months later came to Whitley. Dr Athol Gill received me on a trial basis because my English was limited. He was my inspiration. One of my best memories of Whitley was travelling to Israel with Merrill Kitchen and a group of volunteers. We worked in a missionary hospital in Nazareth and visited some biblical sites. Then I followed Paul’s journey to the West and went to places such as Greece, Italy and Germany.
I would like to give a shout-out to Frank Rees from the faculty. Frank is a gifted teacher, a wonderful scholar and a free thinker. He is still my reader as I develop theological projects in dialogue on current social issues. Topics such as Theology of Social Service, Theology of Redress and Forgiveness, Theology of Sovereignty, Theology of Partnership, and Theology of Climate Change.
I recently had the privilege of writing for, International Handbook of Ecumenical Diakonia. This book is a series of essays that was born during the lockdown last year. I am a contributor to this international project. I have also done two video episodes on Climate Action for the Uniting Church. The first part includes my journey in Australia and how my lived experience in this land has shaped my view on God in Creation.
I am married to Xixi Li. We have two teenage boys. I am a doctoral supervisor and I plan to support more PhD students from the Chinese Church.
What else energises me? I do woodwork from time to time, and I ride my bike weekly. Plus, I take our German Shepherd Daisy out for training on the weekend.