Providing words for the Church

Providing words for the Church

Located at the heart of the Centre for Ministry in North Parramatta, Camden Theological Library has a collection as diverse as the church that it serves. Every month the Library adds around 100 new books to the collection.

First opening in 1975, the library serves the wider Uniting church, and is used by lay people, Uniting Church clergy, and ministry candidates.

It has sat in its current location since 1987. When the Centre For Ministry was opened, spaces were named to reflect the history of the three denominations. The centre’s chapel is the Chapel of St. Andrew to reflect the Presbyterians. Camden Theological Library was named after the Congregational training college.

That college itself was named after the London Missionary Society’s historical ship Camden, which worked in the South Pacific region.

As Uniting Church Minister Rev. Claire Wright puts it, “The Library is a point of entry into a vast conversation, across time and space, on Biblical studies, theology, ministry and a hundred related disciplines: deep well of information, knowledge, and argument.”

Rev. Andrew Johnson is a Minister of the word at Hope Uniting Church in Maroubra. He told Insights that he was impressed by the library during his time as a ministry candidate.

“For me the great strength of Camden Library was not only in the facilities, which were top notch, but the capacity of the staff led by Moira Bryant, to respond to the diversity of student needs,” he said.

Jessica Morthorpe is a Uniting Earth Advocate.

She told Insights that Camden Theological College is invaluable to this work, with one of the best ecotheology sections she has ever seen.

“Same with Pacific theology.”

“Many of these would be hard or impossible to get yourself,” Ms Morthorpe said.

“You couldn’t survive without the library in theology/church work. No one can afford to buy enough good commentaries themselves, but Moira finds them for us and then they’re available for all.”

One of the ways that Ms Morthorpe uses the library is the ‘mobile library’ that she takes with her when she runs workshops and gives talks.

“It’s very useful because even when people can theoretically visit the library themselves, they often won’t due to time and travel restraints (even in Sydney),” she said.

“If I bring the books to them, they’re more likely to borrow something. Also, they are usually really interested to see the selection I’ve chosen and ask why I think particular books are good, or what I recommend for what they’re seeking. Since we’re talking about ecotheology already, it’s more specific and targeted than them having to search the whole collection.

“Beginners seem to be one of the groups that are often most interested, as after a talk they might think about learning more, and if the books are right there I can recommend something to them and they can take it home and read it.”

Camden Theological Library has a wide reference section (which includes all back issues of Insights). It also has a growing Korean language section, which currently has around 4,000 items. The library recently added Godly Play kits to its available resources.

For those who cannot make their way to North Parramatta, Camden has a distance borrowing service, as well as a catalogue of e-books.

Camden Theological Library is open 10:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. For more information, visit the library’s website here.

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