Baptisms at Native College Emphasize Spirituality

Independent Aboriginal boarding school Karalundi College in Western Australia, Australia, ended the second term with a big celebration as 13 students, one senior staff member and three community members were baptized on Saturday (Sabbath) June 25 2022. According to Karalundi Chaplain Peniamina (Ben) Cowley, baptisms are the result of intentional spiritual focus on campus.

“Every school program or event should focus on Jesus. From study week and worship week to social and sporting events, the focus was always on him,” Cowley said.

The focus on prayer is one of many initiatives to help the 36 boarders and 25 full-time staff grow spiritually. “As the saying goes, ‘more prayer, more power.’ Therefore, why at every staff worship, we raise two students in prayer,” he said.

The school also holds a special prayer time every day at 12:00 p.m., during which everyone on campus stops to pray. “We started this during the world church’s 40 Days of Prayer. It was a success and the staff agreed to continue this practice for years to come,” Cowley said.

Students and staff also have many opportunities to learn about scripture and practice discipleship.

“Bible studies are conducted every evening during school terms by the school chaplain to interested students and staff. We also conduct outreach programs in Meekatharra Seventh-day Adventist Church and Wiluna Church every quarter,” said Karalundi Principal John Corcoran.

“Our goal here at Karalundi College is to equip our students for the job market and, more specifically, to prepare them to become disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit has miraculously worked for Karalundi College, and no doubt in my mind great things are yet to come,” Cowley said.

About Karalundi College

Karalundi began in 1954 as an Aboriginal boarding school run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Western Australia. The property is approximately 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of Meekatharra.

It was started after its founder, Dudley Vaughan, was challenged to start such work by Avy Curley. Avy Curley was married to George Curley in 1927 and raised eighteen children in Western Australia.

Classes began in September 1954, with an emphasis on literacy, numeracy and life skills.

In its first years of operation, Karalundi was rated by the Western Australia Department of Education as the “most effective school” and praised for the “relatively high level of achievement” by students.

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[Photo: Adventist Record]

Karalundi was closed in September 1974 as part of a government decision to phase out church involvement in native affairs. The property was sold to individuals and operated as an agricultural business for 12 years.

In the early 1980s, many former students came to recognize that under the state system, their children’s education was inferior to their own. These parents, in the spirit of self-determination, lobbied the state government to have Karalundi reopen as an independent, parent-controlled Aboriginal Christian boarding school where children would be educated separately from the issues associated with the alcohol abuse and would receive an education focused on practical life skills, as well as literacy and numeracy. The advocacy group was supported by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and in August 1986 Karalundi was reopened as such.

Today, the school continues to serve the academic and spiritual needs of Aboriginal Western Australians.

The original version of this story was published by Adventist Registry.

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