Training for a Lifetime: tracing the EU Gradsfund vision through three generations

by EU GradsFund

As a second-year Howie, this is my seventh year on the campus of Sydney University, and my seventh involved with the EU. When I started at USYD, getting involved with the EU felt like an exciting ‘rite of passage’, because of the intergenerational impact it has had on my family through the training, service, and Biblical maturity they developed through their years here. 

First Generation…

My grandfather, Arthur Pennington, studied a medicine degree at Sydney University through the late 40s and early 50s, and during that time was involved with the EU, including serving on the Executive. Here’s what my mum (his daughter) had to say about the impact of his time:

I know one of his roles was as Mission Secretary with Don Robinson and others. From here he went on to be a medical missionary with OMF in central Thailand for 15 years, before returning to Sydney. He often recalled his time with EU and would share about it with us, and would also share about the ministry that Howard Guinness had at St Barnabas Broadway, where he met my mother while she was nursing at RPA. He was very delighted to see some of his grandchildren follow in his footsteps attending the EU and remained a lifelong supporter of EU until he died in 2017.

Arthur Pennington, serving as a missionary in Thailand

Second Generation…

My father, Richard Lane, completed an Arts degree at USYD in the 1980s. He served as EU president for two of those years. His reflections are:

I was involved in the EU during the 1980s. It was a formative time for me as the Bible was taught by people like Ralph Bowles and Robert Forsyth; I was given pastoral guidance from people like Deb Sugars, Adrian Lane and Rod Morris, and there was practical experience in Christian leadership. The EU ran a number of campus missions which provided so many opportunities for working together in Christian witness. We had many early morning prayer meetings which certainly developed a desire and fervency for the Lord to revive us – a prayerful longing which has grown as the decades have passed (Luke 18:1-8). 

Richard Lane at his Ordination

I remain so thankful to the Lord for the firm foundation which I gained from my time in the SUEU and the platform it provided for my service as an ordained Anglican minister in Sydney over the past 30 years. 

It has been a great joy to see the EU grow and flourish and to watch our own children deepen in their faith as they too have been involved. We pray that the SUEU continue to honour the Lord through the proclamation of the gospel at Sydney Uni.

Richard Lane served as EU president in 1986-1987

Third Generation; three stories…

Both my older sister Emily and my older brother Sebastian went through the Howard Guinness Training Project, from 2014- 2016. They reflected:

Sebastian, Felicity & Emily

Sebastian Lane: My time in the EU as a Howie was a formative season for preparing me for future full-time ministry. Over two years, I grew in my biblical and theological convictions, I experienced firsthand what it’s like to be part of a healthy ministry team, and invaluably what it’s like to be part of a ministry training culture (as both trainee & trainer). I also loved the countless opportunities for student evangelism, Bible teaching in different group contexts, 1-1 pastoral care & strategic thinking. Practically, it’s helped me to think theologically, to teach the Bible clearly, to train up the next generation of Bible Study leaders and to minister more effectively amongst God’s people at the church where I’m currently serving. 

Emily Lewis: Going through the EU was a rich blessing of training and opportunities for service. I heard about the Less-Reached and Less-Resourced for the first time, and as a student I was encouraged to serve those who hadn’t had access to the training and time in the scriptures that I had received. The rich blessing of reaching hundreds of different students in hundreds of different churches and sending them back all over Sydney and the world was such a privilege. I realised the blessing of University ministry and decided to pursue Bible college with the possibility of doing that work full time.

When I got married my husband served a less-resourced church and we both decided we wanted to move into the suburb of the church so that we could be part of the community at church, though not a ‘safe’ suburb by worldly standards and a ‘downgrade’ from the current suburb I was living in (Bondi), my husband and I wanted to live what we were convicted by: those in less resourced areas needed people to move there, so by God’s grace we were able to do so.

EU laid a solid foundation in the scriptures, called me to serve and equipped me to do so. I can’t overstate the importance of my time there and how God spoke and shaped me in the way I thought of serving and following Jesus. University ministry will always be a priority for us as a family because of the way God used it to impact me in my thoughts and actions. Praise God.

For myself, I can only echo what my family have said: the wonderful blessing of the EU is not just the memories, friendships, and experiences that are had while on campus as a student, or in training as a Howie – the real blessing and cause to Praise God comes from the lifelong impact of these precious years. I am excited and hopeful to see how God may use the training and experience that I have been privileged to have over my seven years on campus to bless and grow His kingdom in Sydney, Australia, and the world.

– Felicity Kerr, Howard Guinness Project 2022-2023

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