NEWCASTLE, Australia After their first 15 months of providing supervision for the seminary and institute programs in the Newcastle Australia Stake, Donald V. and Shirley Z. Jack, Church Educational System missionaries from Blanding, Utah, have recently received a significant vote of approval.
Elder and Sister Jack will be the first members of the Church to serve as chaplains at the University of Newcastle. The university's chaplaincy consists of representatives from six different denominations who are appointed by the University Vice Chancellor after recommendation from the chaplaincy.
Newcastle University is one of the largest universities in Australia, with a diverse student population of about 17,500. It is the only university in Australia to have LDS chaplains.
Elder Jack said he and Sister Jack "could feel the hand of the Lord in this appointment."
"It is heartening," he said, "to see the Church being formally recognized in this way."
There has been an institute class at the university for some years. "We are now teaching two institute classes each week on campus for the Church members," said Sister Jack.
Elder Jack said that events literally unfolded to open this opportunity for the Church. "It has just been so neat to see how the Lord's guiding hand has opened doors and prepared the way," he said.
Recently Stephen Brooks, an officer in the university's student association, was baptized a member of the Church. Elder Jack said, "Stephen was instrumental in opening the way. With the help of Rosemary Jarvis, a doctoral student and Church member, the hearts of the university administration were softened and turned."
The Church Educational System has been actively working with the Australian University Chaplaincy to have more of the Australian universities open to LDS chaplains, said Elder Jack.
It is expected that when Elder and Sister Jack conclude their mission next year that their replacements will assume their role as chaplains, as it is now a permanent appointment.