Heathdale flower 01st May 2020

In Good Hands

After 27 years of service, Pastor Tim Loftis decided to step down form the College Board. Tim felt at peace with the decision. “It just felt like exactly the right time,” he said. “Having been at the school as long as I have, I really feel like the school is in great hands."

Heathdale flower

Just recently, we managed to dig up a small clipping from the Board Meeting minutes for the 24th of February, 1993. Where, etched in by the typewriter, was the ratification of one Tim Loftis to the Heathdale Board. Tim had a vague inkling it was August, but this made it official, Tim had been serving our community for a staggering 27 years.

In that time, he’s served with four different principals, the first of which, Geoff Dethlefs convinced him to nominate for the board through the Parents & Friends committee. Tim is the pastor of Suburban Baptist Church, but “at the time our church didn’t qualify to nominate a board member because there was a clause that said churches had to be members of the Council for Christian Education in Schools,” explained Tim. “It was part of our founder Joe Westlake’s means of vetting people when he originally started the board. The thing is, that council was all about placing Christian Education in State schools, which is great, but it had nothing to do with independent Christian Education…”

Geoff suggested Tim be nominated to the Board through the Parents & Friends committee. Figuring he had kids at the school and was happy to serve if Geoff was asking him, Tim went along to the meeting. It was one of the largest meetings the College ever had, with over 150 parents attending at a time when the school was barely at two streams. “I didn’t realise what I was getting into… people were really intent on this nomination. For whatever reason, a large group of parents in the school got behind me and voted me in. It was quite something!”

27 years later, Tim decided to step down from the Board. I spoke to him the day after his final AGM, and despite such a long time in service and a close connection with those he’s worked with, Tim felt at peace with the decision. “It just felt like exactly the right time,” he said. “Having been at the school as long as I have, I really feel like the school is in great hands. I really trust in Ross’ leadership, I think he’s doing an amazing job. Also Matt Wilson is a great guy and I think he’s going to do an amazing job as the Board Chair, and I believe we have good Godly people on the Board that are younger and have a lot more energy than I do.”

Along the way there have been a lot of highlights. He’s sat on the selection committees for Heathdale’s last three Principals, including Ross, and felt privileged to see God bring in the right people for the right time in the College’s life. “God’s provided all along the way. It was the same thing with Ross, we needed someone to lead us on the next leg of the journey. The leader of the school is really significant, and Ross was the right person.”

Tim has also been in awe of the way God has protected the College through the people He’s brought to the Board. “There was always a drive to make sure we not only had competent people from a business and educational standpoint, but people who really knew the Lord and lived their faith,” continued Tim. “I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Board with Godly people who cared about the school, and cared about the ministry the school had in the community.”

Over the years, Tim has been involved in reviewing and refining many of the College’s statements, from its philosophy of Christian Education, to its Purpose and Theological Statements. He helped update the latest Theological Statement with Ross and Mark Wilkinson (previously a pastor at Werribee Baptist Church): “We went back to all the major creeds like the Westminster Confession, the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed, because we always said we didn’t want denominational issues and bias to make its way into the school. Rather to stand firm on the core theology of Christianity. I’ve found it very stretching and encouraging for me.”

He was there in the early days when board meetings were held in the staffroom around a makeshift boardroom table. He remembers one meeting that was particularly nerve-wracking. Graeme Thornton was the Business Manager at the time and was presenting the approval his team had gained for funds to finance the building of a gym. On the table was a proposal to borrow one million dollars. “We were all sweating,” recalled Tim. “At that point, there were still a lot of portable buildings or smaller buildings that didn’t take a lot of money to put up. Going into debt for a million dollars was big. But there wasn’t anywhere indoors for students to properly engage in sports, so we knew if the school was going to grow, we needed a gym and made the decision.”

Tim chaired the committee to bring in the three-school structure of Junior, Middle and Senior. Then a few years ago, was also a part of the committee to change it back! “The three-school system was right for a season, but it became obvious that a change was needed to bring back a united sense of purpose in the whole school.” Tim also suggested the idea for a staff Spiritual Enrichment Day on the first day of the year. At first it was a morning session staff could voluntarily attend. Then it became a day for all staff, and continues to bless the beginning of each year at the College. In the early days, he volunteered to teach CLS classes. His wife now teaches a Year 7 student whose dad was one of Tim’s students and still remembers those classes. Tim was also on the Board when the College was able to purchase the Melton campus, which had previously been Mowbray College. “The Melton campus was an amazing gift from God,” he recognised. “We had some reserves we needed to invest, and had already been looking at the option of expanding. The Board of Mowbray wanted to keep the site in use for education, so when we came along and told them what we planned to do, God had obviously answered our prayer and put us in the right place at the right time.”

“You could talk about all the buildings that were built over those 27 years, but the growth of the school educationally and in its delivery of Christian education has been a real strength,” summed up Tim. “I’ve had people come up to me saying, ‘You can’t leave the board, we need you.’ While that is flattering, I realise this is not my school, I’ve had a part in it, but I didn’t build it, God did! I feel very strongly that the college is in good hands, and while it has been a privilege to serve on the Board, God is done with this part of my ministry at Heathdale."

Thank you for your years of service Tim, our College has been blessed by your involvement and leadership.