“Education, ecumenism and energy” were the touchstones Professor Katharine Massam pointed to in her remarks at the Release of Ties from her placement as Coordinator of Studies: Church History on Tuesday evening. The Yuma Auditorium was filled with past and present students and colleagues from Katharine’s 23 years of service.
Katharine moved to Melbourne to take up a position in ‘Church History’ in 2000, and has remained part of the ecumenical faculty at what is now Pilgrim Theological College ever since. Katharine recounted the various places classes were taught prior to the construction of the Centre for Theology and Ministry: Queen’s College, Maclean House, Mark the Evangelist Hall. She has been involved in teaching a wide range of units including Benedictine intensives, ‘Secular and Sacred’, and the collaboratively taught ‘The Cracking of Christendom’.
Katharine described the decision to appoint her, a lay Catholic woman, to the role as a “bold move of the appointment panel” that reflected an ecumenical engagement that “is neither defensive or possessive”. Both Katharine and her students have been enriched through ecumenical conversations: “it can cast familiar traditions into relief, and open up awareness of diverse strengths”.
Over 100 colleagues representing the Uniting Church, Pilgrim Theological College and the University of Divinity, the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theology, the Religious History Association gathered both online and in person at the Release of Ties. Rev Professor Glen O’Brien, Uniting Church minister and Research Coordinator at Eva Burrows College, joining in on Zoom, described Katharine’s work as “a model of collegiality in scholarship”.
Duncan Macleod, Executive Officer of the equipping Leadership for Mission (eLM) unit, said, “the attendance at the conclusion of placement service represents appreciation for Katharine’s contribution to theological education and spiritual formation in the Uniting Church, the University of Divinity, and the wider community of faith.”
Katharine continues as Research Coordinator at Pilgrim before commencing an appointment as Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Divinity in January 2024.