At the start of the 2024 Youthworks College graduation, principal the Rev Mike Dicker described his students as “a great bunch, who have been through the kind of trials that have built them to be the robust kind of ministers that we want in our churches”.

Those trials included the years of COVID lockdowns and disrupted learning, which forged a bond in the student community that was evident at the graduation event, held in Marcus Loane Hall at Moore College in March.

Above: Principal Mike Dicker welcomes graduates

Graduate Luke Graham, youth minister at St Paul's, Canterbury, said, “One thing that really stood out to me in the last few years has been sitting in chapel and looking around at the people who are here and imagining the years of ministry that are ahead of us – whether vocational or not – and thinking about the accumulated amount of time that, together, these people will spend serving the Lord in so many different ways.

“Looking around at the faces who are graduating tonight, getting to know these people over the last two or three years just gives me so much hope for what God might do in our city and beyond as God takes the gospel [out] through these people.” 

The children and families minister at Berkeley Life Centre Anglican Church in Wollongong, Samantha Trotter, said, “Most of our cohort loved YouthWorks so much that we came for three years instead of the typical two! 

“When I first came, I was like, ‘Oh, I already have friends. It'd be great to get to know people, but, you know, whatever’. But humbly under God, some of the people have become my greatest friends, and all of them are people who I can now walk alongside in ministry for the rest of our lives, and that's really special.”

The 33 graduates were urged to keep serving by Dr Edwina Murphy from the Australian College of Theology, of which Youthworks is an affiliate.

“Be the servant leaders and, even when it's tough, keep going,” she said. “Be joyful. There is joy in sacrifice, but joy should not be sacrificed.” 

Above: Luke Graham, Dr Ruth Lukabyo and Samantha Trotter

In his address, the director of the Ministry Training Strategy, Ben Pfhalert, pointed out that the culture of society is not servant-hearted. 

“We do not live in a society that wants to sacrifice,” he said. “So, if you want to have a heart like Jesus, you will not fit in. You will receive resistance from many quarters. It may come from family [or] people who think that you have ‘thrown away a perfectly good career’.” 

Many of the graduates go on to positions in churches and Christian organisations around Sydney and Wollongong, but others are continuing in secular employment while being involved in church lay ministry. 

The college’s reach is also wider than NSW. 

“Youthworks College doesn't just teach students face to face, but we also have online students, and they're a delight to teach,” said the college’s Dean of Women, Ruth Lukabyo. “They are all over the country, and there's actually some overseas students from Malaysia and the Seychelles… It's lovely to see the way that Youthworks College is blessing and training people from everywhere.”