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Parkville Seminar

Join us on August 9 via Zoom for this free seminar featuring four outstanding members of our Whitley research community.

We are delighted to invite you to join us for four excellent presentations that span a wide range of topics, showcasing just some of the extensive contributions the Whitley research community makes across a variety of disciplines.


Join us for all or part of this exciting event.

2.00–2.05pm Postgraduate Coordinators Welcome and Introduction
2.10–2.50pm Brian Kolia Qohelet and the Moana: Futility in Diaspora?
2.55–3.35pm Deborah Storie Luke 24: Remembering Jesus, Opening the Scriptures, Breaking Bread.
3.40–4.20pm Libby Byrne Exploring what is seen and unseen in the development of art‐based, practice‐led, theological research.
4.20–5.00pm Mick Pope From Creation to Canaan: Biblical Hermeneutics for the Anthropocene


To attend this event, simply click the Zoom link below at 2pm, Monday August 9.

Join here:
Meeting ID: 884 3479 3308
Passcode: 775888

For more information, contact Rev Associate Professor Darrell Jackson (

The Exhibition

In contrast to the physical (and social) distance that permeates our present time, the exhibition’s centrepiece, ‘Sink Like a Stone’, is a material creation born of collaboration: in 2019, Dr Byrne was invited to paint a large-scale work at the CMLA conference. Over the course of the three days the artwork that would eventually become ‘Sink Like a Stone’ was inspired by, responsive to and reflective of the community who observed and participated in its creation. Conversations were had, opinions offered, and an artistic direction was determined in collaboration with those present and invested in both the process and the artwork that would emerge from it. A poem crafted by Malcolm Gordon became the song that accompanies the piece, adding another layer of collaboration that invites contemplation.

Completed through the experience of worshipping in isolation and assembled alongside this piece at Whitley, eight other large works will serve as the pillars of the exhibition, as Byrne re-members the idea of worshipping in community. This work explores the pillars of experience in her memory of public worship: “The memory of what it was like being in church over the years has returned at various times in my experience of being separate from a faith community – anchoring me in my experience of worship – as I work in the solitude of the studio.” Smaller works are planned to enter the exhibition at different times, moving in and out without warning and prompting reflection on what it is like to be surprised by the presence of the unimagined in worship. As it hangs over time the exhibition invites us to consider the possibility that pillars of our community may be shifting, emerging from the recognition of our shared experience, rather than resting on the acknowledgement of any individual pursuit.

As we gather together again in different ways, the works themselves – and the stories they invite – offer a gentle invitation to re-member the experience of being in worship alongside other people in a time that necessitates the physical separation of our bodies.

This free exhibition will run from August through October at Whitley College (50 The Avenue, Parkville). Members of the public are warmly invited to attend (government restrictions permitting). For more information, contact

Dr Libby Byrne

Libby’s art making practice is a means to explore questions of meaning and existence that capture her attention. Within the studio she is seeking to discover ideas, images and experiences that will extend the way she thinks, perceives and responds to these questions. Within her practice she explores that which is particular and also shared in the experience of being human, whilst seeking and sometimes finding the presence of God in those places. In this way, her studio practice is theology in the making.

Over the past decade Libby has worked as an art therapist in the public health sector in Melbourne, with a particular focus in Palliative Care.  Libby has specialized in assisting people to use art as a means of honouring and reflecting on significant life experiences as well as creating opportunities to develop meaningful and personal ritual in and around the experience of death. Libby now works as a Lecturer, teaching and researching in the Art Therapy Programs at La Trobe University.

Learn more about Dr Byrne and her work at

Whitley alum Dr. Julia Rhyder was awarded the 2021 David Noel Freedman Award for Excellence and Creativity in Hebrew Bible Scholarship for her paper entitled, “The Origins of the Jewish Pig Taboo: Pig Consumption and Ethnicity from Leviticus to the Maccabees.”

The award, the goal of which is to promote excellence and creativity in Hebrew Bible scholarship, is given to a member who has received a Ph.D. or Th.D, in biblical studies or related field within the last ten years, and includes a cash prize of $1000.

The news comes as Julia Rhyder prepares to take up the position of Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her research on the Hebrew Bible embraces a broad approach to the study of biblical texts that focuses not only on the context of their composition but also on their transmission and reception in ancient Judaism. Rhyder’s first book, Centralizing the Cult: The Holiness Legislation in Leviticus 17–26 (Mohr Siebeck, 2019) was the joint winner of the 2021 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise. Rhyder has published articles in the Journal of Biblical Literature, Dead Sea Discoveries, Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlich Wissenschaft, Semitica, and Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel. Her current book project, begun as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Basel, explores the commemoration of warfare in festivals of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple traditions.

We warmly congratulate Dr Rhyder on her award and wish her all the best as she joins the faculty at Harvard University.

We are thrilled to announce a Whitley College research project is the recipient of one of four funding grants provided through the University of Divinity’s Extraordinary Large Grant Scheme. Led by Principal René Erwich and Director of Research Dr Darrell Jackson, in collaboration with Assoc Professor Eleanor Flynn (YTU) and Research Support Officer Titus Olorunnisola, the project aspires to create an evidence-based (re)design of resources that equip friends and families to offer spiritual care to persons living with dementia.

The project: An evidence based (re)design of resources that equip friends and families to offer spiritual care to persons living with dementia

Australia and the UK are contexts where the spiritual care of persons living with dementia reflects individualist assumptions. With the increasing numbers of persons living with dementia from non-European backgrounds, age-care providers are having to reconceive patterns of spiritual care by locating spiritual care within a nexus of relationships that existed prior to the person developing dementia. Our meta-analysis of the existing research literature suggests that this aspect of the provision of spiritual care to persons living with dementia is under-researched.

Our project will reduce the anxiety levels and increase the confidence of families and friends offering spiritual care to people living with dementia. Our research will contribute to the evidence-based growing appreciation that spiritual care is better offered through a network of individuals who know the person living with dementia.

Several industry partnerships and academic advisors, both in Australian and the UK, will contribute to the research project, including Meaningful Ageing Australia (MAA), Methodist Homes UK (MHA, UK) and Northern Baptist College (Manchester, UK).

On Monday, August 23, 2021 Whitley College will host an Australian first for the British Whitley Lecture. Though this annual lecture shares its name with the College, it has never before been hosted on Australian shores. Be part of this historic event as Rev Dr David McLachlan presents the 2021 Whitley Lecture: Does This Cross Have Disabled Access?

As churches increasingly seek to include people with disabilities, how disability fits into the gospel is a pressing question. Disability and sin often appear together in the Bible, which is awkward.  Jesus’ healing signs, as a foretaste of the saving power of the cross, only seem to make matters worse.  The lecture asks whether the insights of people with disabilities might help here.  Is there a way of understanding God’s saving, healing work at the cross that does not equate disability with sin and that avoids people with disabilities feeling like outsiders?

Though the global pandemic thwarted our plans to host Rev Dr David McLachlan in person, we are grateful technology enables him to join us via Zoom. Dr McLachlan’s presentation will be followed by an Australian response delivered by Dr Shane Clifton, prior to questions and discussion from participants. Join us at the College for an evening of stimulating conversations, connection and (restrictions permitting!) refreshments.

For more information on this Australian-first event, visit our Events page or contact Whitley College’s Director of Research, Darrell Jackson, on