Saturday, 29 August 2009

Men Get Together at Oaklands

It was a pleasure to be a part of the night at Oaklands last Tuesday. A solid band of local workers and community service providers worked together to make the men's gathering happen.
The local support for this event was widespread as men from Rand, Berrigan, Urana, Jerilderie, Corowa and other places made the effort to attend. In all there were about 124 men at the dinner.

I must say that the evening was a great success as the food was delicious the speakers were top drawer and the men were open to sitting, listening and sharing with each other.

The guest speakers were Roy Hamilton, John Harper and Tom Hafey. Roy spoke about his experience on the land in the local area and the importance of making time for community life. Roy's focus is the local football club the hub of community life in the district.

John Harper gave an excellent address on depression in his usual down to earth style. John related from his own story and the way he has come through.

Tom Hafey being infamous in AFL circles was a great draw card for the night and spoke of being passionate about what we do and giving one hundred percent plus in life.

What a great night. Well done Oaklands!

Kel Hodge

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Wildflowers continue to be amazing

I have been really fortunately but getting to look at some more of the wildflowers in this area, including some lovely orchids. If you would like to see the pictures follow this link. Sorry both my camera and its operator are not better at the close up stuff.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Louth and Fords Bridge Workshops

Last week I travelled to Louth and Fords Bridge in the Bourke area to join with other service providers in presenting workshops. Speakers came from Centrelink, Dept of Primary Industries, Mental Health and the Division of General Practice and were bringing primary producers up-to-date on changes to assistance and other packages. I spoke on managing change. Both were great days and the bush is full of colour will all the wildflowers and saltbushes flowering so makes driving across the landscape every entertaining. If you would like to see more of the wildflower pictures I took in the Bourke area click on this link.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Day Mission Support Group Has Rural Focus

On monday I was asked to speak to the Day Mission Support Group of the Uniting Church at Roseville.
This group is a faithful band of church members scattered across the Sydney metropolitan area with a passion for mission in many different areas and aspects.
This year the focus was on mission to rural New South Wales. I attempted to convey some of the stories about Rural chaplaincy and about how valuable it is to get support from city congregations in our work.
It was interesting to know that many of the people in the group had rural backgrounds and heart for the bush.

Kel Hodge

The bush in bloom

After good rains over winter the hills around Hillston are full of colour with wildflowers and gorgeous bushes. On Mon afternoon I had a lovely time with friends walking through the bush ablaze with wonderful flowers. Here are a few pictures but to see more click here.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

It great when it works!


I have been working with the preschool committee in Ivanhoe to help get their licence renewed and also to attract some grant money for necessary equipment. The Preschool is located at the Central School.

I was delighted to hear on Sat night that a grant application I had helped prepare had been successful. Now the Preschool committee will be able to purchase $4500 of softfall to go under their outdoor equipment.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

An AGM in elegant surroundings

NSW Women in Agriculture held their AGM on Saturday at the fabulous Boree Cabonne homestead between Orange and Cudal (see map reference below). The AGM is one of two meetings that the organisation holds each year and it a great time of seeing what the group has done and catching up with friends. The Uniting Church has helped this group by providing some funds to run mentoring courses and set up their website.
After the meeting we were able to tour the homestead. This grand old building was built in the 1890s and is lovingly looked after by Tina and Andy McGeoch. Looking through the rooms was just like stepping back into the past with many of the furnishing still the orginal ones.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A Fantastic Ministry draws to a close

Anne and Fred Humphreys are retired farmers from the Nth Coast of NSW who have made themselves available to the church to help with the drought. Taking up a call to help in the Finley area (see location map below) they shifted down south. Over the last 18 months they have gone out daily to visit farmers in the surrounding area. Choosing a road each day they would call in on each property to see how people were getting on. They also carried vouchers and food hampers, as well as contact details for other services that might be able to help.The impact of this ministry in the area has been enormous and many people have enjoyed the opportunity to just sit and talk with people who understand what it is like. Others have really benefited from the support that the Humphreys brought.

As a testament to enormous benefit of this work over 50 people gathered at Finley church last Thursday night to say thanks and farewell the Humphreys. It was a terrific time of thanksgiving tinged with a sadness that this gifted and caring couple will no longer be working in this area. However, we all look forward to seeing the next adventure that God has in store for Fred and Anne and give thanks for their willingness to so generously give of themselves and their resources.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Options for Farmers in the Dareton area


A number of farmers gathered in Dareton near Mildura (for a map link see below) to hear a great range of speakers talk about future options available. There was a terrific range of speakers dealing with topics such as water trading, government options through Centrelink, succession planning, skills recognition, diversification and Catchment Management Authority opportunities. I did a short session on managing change.

Unfortunately the numbers on the day were impacted by an emergency meeting that was called at very short notice to discuss the credit arrangements for a winery in the area that’s gone into receivership.
This area (The Sunraysia area) has lots of horticulture and grape growing and it is a very pretty area to drive through, but the message from the speakers on water was not optimistic and many growers are in very difficult situations with no water to do their irrigating. With so much fruit and other horticulture grown in this area this is extremely concerning.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Network gives a real boost to the community


Regular readers of the blog will know that both Kel and I have been involved in a number of networks with other service providers and local residents. One network that is working really well is the Urana/Oaklands one. This network met in Oaklands (see a map link below) on Mon and heard about lots of good things that are happening in the area. With support from various service providers the passionate people in the communities have been able to plan and organise many more events and activities. There have been some excellent women’s days, craft workshops and men’s night is planned for later this month, which Kel will be attending. There has also been increased interaction with services such as TAFE, mental health and Centrelink. It is great when a network manages to get it right in helping local people do things rather than take over.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Rural Church Ambassadors Gather at St. Clements Monastery

Members of the Uniting Church in NSW and some visitors from Victoria gathered near Galong to learn, worship, pray, talk and just be. The gathering is a bi-annual event sponsored by the Rural Ministry Unit a rural interest group attached to the rural Presbyteries of NSW and ACT.
As you might imagine the issues discussed primarily are concerned with the life and witness of rural congregations. Our struggles and victories were shared in the confines of St. Clements a well established and wonderfully appointed old monastery.
For me personally, I really enjoyed the challenging teaching from Rev Dr Jione Havea lecturer in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament at Uniting Theological College. Jione spoke about the the challenges and opportunities we might find in "dry places". As most of NSW and the ACT have been dry places in the last decade Jione lead us through parts of the Hebrew Bible in search for the opportunities God provided his people in the dry places they found themselves in. It was heartening to learn that there were many opportunities in dry places as God is with us.
Some of the church leaders across the state showcased their models of ministry with an aim to encouraging and enlightening others about how we might respond to God's call in our own communities.
Kel Hodge

Hospitality in Henty

Henty is a little town SW of Wagga Wagga (see map link at the bottom) with a population of approx 1000 people. The Uniting Church there meets twice a month in Henty and twice a month in Culcairn (16 km south) which shares the travelling for those in the congregation.

On Sunday I had the privilege of speaking in Henty to a very enthusiastic crowd of folk who welcomed me warmly. I spoke about the work of the Rural Chaplains and also the possibility of returning to do some work with the congregation on community building activities. It was a great service and of course wouldn't be complete without morning tea in the hall and a cake to celebrate Jessica's birthday.

Not only was I hosted extremely comfortably on Saturday night but I was also taken to lunch at the Culcairn Pub after the service by some of the congregation, which proved to be a very pleasant and entertaining afternoon.


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