On Wednesday 11th December, the college community gathered together to farewell The Rev’d Dr Don Owers who ceases his tenure as Principal of the college at close of business on Friday 13th of December. Don was initially asked in late 2017 to function as Acting Principal for a few months whilst a replacement Principal was sought but had this duty expanded and extended to be Principal for a period of two years. Over this time the College has further increased in its capacity as well as focussing on being the centre of a Generous Orthodoxy in theological education.
A small afternoon tea was held with around 30 people in attendance. The occasion was marked by excellent speeches from the incoming Principal, The Rev’d Dr Cathy Thomson and Archbishop Geoffrey Smith.
“Don has fulfilled this role with creativity and imagination. He is a leader who thinks outside of the square, a strategic thinker who has set the college up to have a positive future,” Cathy noted. “Having worked with Don for two years now, I have come to trust him absolutely as my boss, line manager and colleague. There is no untrammelled egotism in that room, no power play, no questionable strategizing. Don is honest, straightforward and uncomplicated to relate to, and I have the deepest of respect for him as a Christian leader and friend.”
“On behalf of the Diocese, thank you Don for your incredibly positive leadership of the College. On behalf of the St Barnabas College Council, thank you for being prepared to step into the breach at the beginning, and then step up when it was clear that the wisest course was to ask you whether you’d become the principal rather than the acting principal” the Archbishop said. “Along all those conversations your attitude has always been ‘I’ll do what you think is best for the college – whatever is best, whatever is most helpful I will do’ which is a fantastic attitude and a wonderful example to us.”
Don concluded with a few words, “Max DePree the great Christian business leader and leadership expert said once that, ‘the first duty of a leader is to declare reality to the organisation and the last duty is to say thank you. Everything in between is servanthood’. That’s typical of DePree, succinct and pithy but powerful. I have tried to declare reality to the college and I’ve tried to serve, and I’m pleased now to have an opportunity to say thank you to all those I have worked with, both those who I report to and those who work with me in the college: those who are on the staff and our marvellous adjuncts who give so much… our appreciation is, really, unlimited for the work that you do. And of course the students who make a huge contribution to the college and the various supporters, the volunteers in the library, and others who support the college in various ways… May I take this opportunity to say to everyone, thank you for the part that you’ve played in this venture and thank you for the support that you’ve given to me.”
Don will continue at SBC as the Ministry Development Advisor in a half-time capacity.