This unit engages with the distinctive and diverse culture of rural Australia with a view to exploring the needs and opportunities for ministry. Interaction with and observation of agricultural life will provide a basis for theological reflection on agriculture, the land, social and family life, the environment and economics in a rural setting. Out of reflections on these themes using the Bible and contemporary discussions, appropriate models for pastoral care, church life, community involvement and support in times of natural disaster will be developed and evaluated. The unit will orientate those who have not previously worked in rural communities. It will also be valuable to rural clergy and other professionals, including farmers and lay workers who seek tools to be more effective in their roles.

Unit code: CT9710W

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate the ways in which theology relates to context, with particular reference to Australian rural contexts.


Identify and interpret the social, environmental and spiritual needs of a rural community.


Describe and engage both challenges and opportunities of missional work in a rural context.


Create a personal and community-based plan of missional engagement within a particular rural context.


Identify and apply biblical passages which shape faith in a rural context.


Develop a theology of land and ministry.

Unit sequence

Prerequisite: 24 points DM


The unit involves critical inquiry of rural based settings. This will include lectures, zoom sessions, and group work for theological reflection.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Berry, Wendell, and Norman Wirzba. The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2002.
  • Brodie, Marc, and Graeme Davison. Struggle Country: The Rural Ideal in Twentieth Century Australia. Melbourne: Monash University ePress, 2005.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. The Land: Place as Gift, Promise and Challenge in Biblical Faith. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002.
  • Davis, Ellen F. Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Gammage, Bill. The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2011.
  • Habel, Norman C.The Birth, the Curse and the Greening of Earth: An Ecological Reading of Genesis 1–11. The Earth Bible vol. 1. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011.
  • Hawkes, Nicholas. The Country Is Different: Ministry and Hope in Rural Australia. Collingwood, Victoria: JBCE, 1995.
  • Inge, John. A Christian Theology of Place. Aldershot, Hampshire, England; Burlington, VT, USA: Ashgate, 2003.
  • Hiebert, Theodore. “The Human Vocation: Origins and Transformations in Christian Traditions,” in Hessel, Dieter T. and Rosemary Radford Reuther (eds).Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well-being of Earth and Humans. Cambridge, Mass.: Distributed by Harvard University Press for the Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 2000.
  • Main, George. Heartland: The Regeneration of Rural Place. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2005.
  • Muenstermann, Ingrid “Too Bad to Stay or Too Good to Leave? Two Generations of Women with a Farming Background: What Is Their Attitude Regarding the Sustainability of the Family Farm?” in Luck, Gary W. Demographic Change in Australia's Rural Landscapes Implications for Society and the Environment. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011.
  • Rickard, Lauren. "Critical Breaking Point?” The Effects of Drought and Other Pressures on Farming Families." Department of Agriculture. January 1, 2008. Accessed February 12, 2014.
  • Stehlik, Daniela “Australian Drought as Lived Experience: Social and Community Impacts,” in *Fisher, Melanie. in Beyond Drought People, Policy and Perspectives. Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO, 2003.
  • Wright, Christopher J. H. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Book Review

Book review

1500 25.0

Essay 3000 words

3000 40.0

Weekly Forum Posts

2500 35.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 15 Oct, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000