Monday, 23 October 2017

UCAF Joan Stott Bursary – 2018

The UCAF National Committee is pleased to announce that the UCAF Joan Stott Bursary for study being undertaken in 2018 has been awarded to Kristen Furneaux from Mt Eliza Uniting Church in Victoria.

A Précis of My Faith Journey
By Kristen Marie Furneaux

Joan Stott UCAF Bursary 2017My upbringing was one of bubble-wrapped Christianity; church every Sunday, prayers before dinner, and bible verses scrawled into birthday cards. It was safe and comfortable, and I was fortunate to be immersed in it; packed away from the dangers of the world, where I could remain content in the knowledge that “Jesus Loves Me,” which the Bible, and not to mention my sparkly pencils and devotional journal, told me so.

There was stability in this kind of upbringing, which was certainly necessary in my younger years. It was a hand-me-down faith, like a very old and well-loved jumper, and it fitted me well for that time. However, as I reached my high school years, and began to engage with the more complex realities of life, my understanding of Christianity started to fray at the edges. With every new question, the threadbare sleeves shrunk even smaller. With every vexing doubt, the holes began to show. Until eventually, my hand-me-down faith no longer fit at all, and there I stood; towing the edge of throwing it away altogether, or taking the arduous time to mend it into something new, something that might actually fit my growing self.

In my first year out of high school, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Theology. For the first time in my life, I was introduced to the complexity and the richness that existed beyond the all-too-comfortable church answers. I had found a place that could not only grapple with my questions and doubts, but furthermore came back with more mystery to engage with. It was truly captivating.

With every new insight, my understanding of God began to broaden ceaselessly, continuing to transcend the cramped boxes and rigid names that my confining faith had made. I began to recognise the image of God in the faces of those whom the church had warned me to steer well clear of. I began to truly engage with the Bible, not as some irrelevant book of memory-verses that sat collecting dust on the shelf, but as a kaleidoscopic lens into the unfolding narrative of God’s reconciling kingdom.

This is the fascinating path that I was invited to wander, where the opportunity to study theology has paved the way for my transformational journey to begin; and I haven’t looked back since. I am truly excited to continue this process of expanding my mind and furthering my understanding, so that I may delve deeper into the incomprehensible mystery of God.

 The Joan Stott UCAF Bursary is available to people under the age of 35 years undertaking leadership or theological studies.