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5 minutes with Jill ...

Tell us a little about you

I was born in Melbourne and now live in Melbourne. In between, I had six years in Sydney, fifteen years in Western Australia, a year on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria and ten years in Hong Kong. I lecture in Old Testament and Hebrew at Ridley College Melbourne. I am an ordained Anglican minister and a Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral where I work on Sundays at the 9am service. I have trained as a spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition and this impacts how I reflect on the Bible. I am married to Len who lectures at Ridley, ministers in Moreland, and is an Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. We have three grown up children and three grandchildren.

I recently completed a PhD in the Psalms and I am currently editing it for publication. I am keen to hear more women’s voices in Biblical studies whether listening to the women in the Biblical texts, reading scholarship by women, or hearing women teach. I coordinate a women’s academic writing group for Ridley students. My current writing is on the connection between the psalms of lament and Luther’s theology of the cross. I also love to teach Hebrew to anyone who can be persuaded to learn. I use some modern methods adapted from second language acquisition such as total physical response and storytelling. I find most people can learn with these methods.

What's your favourite bible passage & why?

My favourite Bible passage is the Old Testament, though I am also very keen on any passage that talks about Jesus, so I also like the New Testament. I think a lot about texts that are complicated, such as Jephthah’s daughter or the rape of Tamar. I delight in God’s faithfulness to David.

How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?

I like to read the Bible, sit in silence, walk. In sleepless times at night, I turn my inward gaze on Jesus and mull over coming events, decisions, directions. I meet with a small group of friends to pray, and one on one with other friends to share our lives and help each other in discernment. I find a lot of spiritual encouragement in Facebook posts from friends further afield. Reading is a key activity for me, always. Sometimes I journal but not so much recently, perhaps because I spend so much of my time writing in other ways.

What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know?

Every generation has the previous generation to love and watch over them and a responsibility to love and watch over the next generation. I would like the next generation to know that they are not alone, but also to learn how to prepare for those who will follow them. Social entropy means that we have to keep working hard so we won’t lose the gains of previous generations, and can continue to build together into our identity in Christ.

What's one thing that you love about your local church?

My ‘local’ church is the Cathedral, where we have about 1,000 visitors each day. I love the ESL groups, the easy English service, the Bible studies, the regular services where we welcome many visitors who may not have English as their first language, the Mainly Music group, the Cathedral Seniors group, the flower guild.

What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?

We moved a lot as a child and I was often lonely and sometimes very scared in unfamiliar school settings. I was not a Christian then but later I realised that Jesus had been with me all the time, and this was a healing realisation.

Later in life, I burned out due to ill health, ministry pressures and other factors. This was a time when I was able to come closer to God in my suffering, and gained a better understanding of the fellowship of Christ’s suffering. You can’t have fellowship with Christ’s suffering if you are not suffering yourself. There was a special intimacy in that time.

What are you passionate about?

I am always passionate about God but the way this hits the ground has varied through my life. Earlier, I was very committed to parish ministry and evangelism. I am still excited about this at the Cathedral. Now I am also focused on teaching Hebrew and Old Testament, and releasing constraints that limit women’s scholarship and contribution to the church and society. I have a ten year plan and a hundred year horizon for my plan.

What do you enjoy doing when you rest?

I like to read, walk on the beach, think, sew, visit my children and grandchildren.

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