Friday, 27 December 2013

A Child is Born for Us.

In Hillston we are fortunate to be able to share ecumenically. Our church worship leaders meet regularly to share and to pray together.
We are also fortunate to have a local press open to the idea of printing a Christmas message.This is the message from the front of the Hillston-Ivanhoe Spectator,18th December, 2013,written by our parish priest, Father Murray.

                                                          "A Child is Born for Us."

"This is an incredible message. Surely this is the Gospel truth. A child is born for us, for our salvation, for our eternal life.
There is only one child who is born for us. All other children are born because God wants to bless them,because God wants them to share in His life of Glory.They are not born for their parents,although they will bring their parents and family great joy. They are not born for their country,although they may contribute much to the land of their birth.They are born because God wanted them to exist and receive from His goodness.
But one, and only one, child is born for us; a child born because God wants us to be part of His family.This child is the Son who saves us so that we might all be the children of God.

Our Lord's death on a cross overcomes sin and the power of death so that we might live forever in the family of God.
This Christmas, though it is a busy time, take the time to gaze at the child in the manger, to gaze at God become a small and weak child.

This child comes into the world for you.
For you, because God loves you.

Father Murray.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Day -25th December, 2013

From the squalor of a borrowed stable,

                                      Came the Saviour of the human race! *

                                     Happy Christmas!

*From the hymn by Stuart Townend.

Friday, 20 December 2013

From the City to the Country,with Love

There were women's clothes,

baby clothes,

children's clothes, sorted in age groups,



40 new women's magazines donated by Woman's Weekly, along with new books, 

lots of toys for Christmas,

lots of children's books,

DVDs for children, 

soccer gear for young boys,

It reads like the 12 days of Christmas and it probably felt like it to the Griffith Women's Refuge, who were the recipients of the enormous collection gathered by Pymble Uniting Church and Mt St Bernard's Catholic School.

The collection waits for shipment.
..........Not a Partridge but a Partnership.

Pymble UC put out the word of the need for clothes and toys at Griffith Women's Refuge.
They had discovered the need from the Rural Chaplain,* Julie, working in the area.Mt St Bernard School were very keen to contribute and an ecumenical partnership was born. It proved fruitful, as you can see from the photo.

But stuff wasn't just sent out to be landed on the doorstep of the already busy workers at the refuge.It was all collected,quality controlled and sorted by the parents in Pymble before packaging and shipment.
Rather that just sending up old clothes and toys they thought would be useful, organisers also contacted the refuge to find out what was required, when is the best time to send things and how to send it. A sorted shipment of new, or as new, clothes, books and toys is now sent each season, summer and winter.The load you see here filled 2 station wagons to the brim and was carried by couriers happy to do this as a love job.*

There is a great story from a previous shipment to Griffith which shows what fun it is to be in such a project and what a worthwhile thing it is to do.
A single mum with 6 kids was about to leave the refuge and set up in her own home.She had come in as a victim of domestic violence and was leaving after being given support, counselling and undergoing a parenting program to help her cope on her own with 6 children.
The first shipment from Pymble arrived that day. In it were delightful children's clothes enough for all the children to have something brand new and a bit classy. It saved her money, shopping time (with 6 kids!!) and let her know she is not alone. 

"Do all the good you can.By all the means you can.In all the ways you can.In all the places you can.At all the times you can.To all the people you can.As long as ever you can."

* Rural Chaplains seen again, acting as conduits - linking city and country, people and places.
* Thank you! to both L & M Pittari trucking and Quiktrans Logistics of Minto for transporting goods and palletizing and clingwrapping the packages free of charge.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Learning goes both ways in Enngonia visit

 As I was writing the blog for last week, as if to prove the truth of what I was writing by another source,this blog came through to us from Steve Aynsley of  Pymble Uniting Church. If some of these photos don't bring a tear to your eye and give you hope for reconciliation between peoples in Australia .......

 Twenty-six students from Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar visited Enngonia Public School in November as part of their Year 10 Service Learning Project. Accompanied by teachers and members of Pymble Uniting Church, who formed a relationship with the school 4 years ago, the visit was a resounding success.

On this “immersion” trip, the second time the Sydney schools have visited Enngonia, students had tours of local sheep and produce farms and learnt some of the area’s rich history. But most of the 5-day trip was spent in the school, talking individually with the local students, reading stories, playing endless games of handball and soccer and generally being a big sister or brother.

 The Principal later reported how happy she was with the visit, noting especially the warmth and speed with which the children responded to the older students. Church representatives and the teachers from Sydney were again proud of the giving nature of the older students, who played, carried, swam and kicked themselves to exhaustion with their new-found buddies.

Further connections with the local community were made over a BBQ and a ‘bush tucker bush walk’ and the Pymble congregation was able to support the P&C with some funds so they could supply a special afternoon tea.

But the real success of the week is seen in the changed lives of the students. The Enngonia students are encouraged by the example of older students keen to be at school and with goals and plans for their lives; the Sydney students learn so much by being exposed to a different part of Australia and getting to understand some of the challenges of living in a remote area. As a number of them said on return, “This was a life-changing experience.”

                                                  Rev Steve Aynsley
                                                   Pymble Uniting Church.

                                                            Joy, Hope.... Reconciliation.

"You are all sons of God through Christ Jesus.....There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus."
                                                                                                                                                              Galatians 3:26-28

Friday, 6 December 2013

Conduits -Part 2 - In all the ways you.In all the places you can.

Rural Chaplains act as a link between places and people, people and resources,doing what they can in all the ways they can, in all the places they can.

As they travel around Western NSW the chaplains hear a lot about the needs and hopes of the communities they visit.

End of the school zone at Weilmoringle 

Many of these places are very isolated in that they are far from major centres and services. Often things we now take for granted in most cities and towns do not exist - things like access to teaching about new technologies, hobby groups, opportunities for post school learning and employment, pre-schools, playgroups, secondary schooling and book shops or any shops!

Julie and Phill leave one such meeting in Dubbo.

The chaplains hear about these needs and seek to do something to meet them. This involves discussing the project or service people would like to see happening in their community with members of the community. It can mean sourcing funds through a grant to pay for the need to be met or  linking a church community in the city or a large country town with a smaller community.

Linking people and places can work as a great two way exercise as expertise and knowledge of differing lifestyles,experiences and places flow back and forth.
An example of this is the link between Pymble Uniting Church and the community of Enngonia, who have worked together for several years.Another is the pairing of Weilmoringle and Mosman Boys Prep School in the Book Buddies program. Mosman supplies access to books for the children at the school and in return Weilmoringle teaches them about their local Aboriginal culture and environment. It's a win -win situation.

An example of a grant helping communities to gain services which will enrich the lives of both individuals and the town is the recent one applied for and gained, from UnitingCare. This Innovations grant covers 3 areas of community enrichment - a computer course for Seniors hoping to improve their skills so they can communicate better with friends, family and services outside town, an ESL training for tutors course so non-English speaking Hillston locals can improve their ability to communicate in English in town and a series of Quilting workshops at Merriwagga for the ladies in that small town who love to get together and sew and want to learn new skills.

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can.To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." - John Wesley

Sometimes it involves the unglamorous hard yakka of grant writing and phone calls but seeing it all come together and for people to get the services they need is a very satisfying part of the job of Rural Chaplain.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Conduits -Chaplains Helping to Make Things Happen in Rural Communities

Conduit- Chaplains act as a link between places and people, people and resources.

Last week I wrote about the visit of the ministry students to Hillston Uniting Church.

The theme Hillston church members spoke on that night,as they outlined their involvement in ministry in this town was really,
       "Do what you can,where you can, with what, and who,you have and God will bless what you do."
It reminded me of the saying of John Wesley,

"Do all the good you can.By all the means you can.In all the ways you can.In all the places you can.At all the times you can.To all the people you can.As long as ever you can."

This sums up very well the ministry of the Rural Chaplains.

As they connect with people from all walks of life across rural NSW and listen to the dreams and heartaches of isolated communities they seek to "do all the good they can" by healing hurts and making dreams a reality.

Rural Chaplains act as a link between places and people, people and resources-hence the metaphor- Conduit.

Doing this may take several forms.It may mean listening to people affected by natural disaster,such as fire or flood. It may mean visiting tiny isolated communities over several years,working to improve literacy or education opportunities.It may mean finding ways to connect city churches with country towns so they can work together to improve outcomes for kids in town and expand horizons( literally, for those from the city).It may mean finding funding for buses,sports gear,music days,sports events or organising a Good Day Out for those demoralised by drought.It may mean teaching people to make church a safe place or helping to improve communication about difficult issues such as water use.It may mean working to improve the mental health and well being of those in rural communities.It may mean finding a way to send otherwise wasted crop to the hungry in the cities.

There are endless possibilities and Julie and Phill have discovered and done, many of them.

One particular way,which is little thought about when we think of intrepid Rural Chaplains 4 Wheel Driving across open country "outback", is the finding of and application for, grants as they sit in their office at home.
A monthly task is to look through the grant lists to find grants which will bring funding to communities with very little in the way of facilities or services so that they can make happen the things they dream of for their town.
These dreams are not for"trips to Disney Land" they are for real services or activities which it is hoped will bring genuine improvement to life in their part of the world.

Thus the Rural chaplains act as conduits, hearing hopes and dreams from communities and finding ways, resources or quite frankly, money,to help them make those dreams happen.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Hillston visit from "The Secret Seven."

From left at back -Ellie, Bridget, Paul, Kodjo and Do Young. Front -Christine and Simote.

 I don't  know how secret they really are but it sounded a good title!

I guess you could say it's a well kept secret how great these students are. 
(Well, it was a secret from Hillston until the visit last week from this energetic,interested and caring group of future Uniting Church ministers.)

On November 14th Hillston hosted 7 ministry students visiting as part of their training, finding out more about the church in rural NSW. The students visited several towns and churches,of varying sizes and run in a variety of ways, during their exhaustive Riverina church tour over 10 days.
After their very hot drive up from Hay over the very flat Hay Plain, Sue met them at the local Historical Museum, showed them around and then handed out maps for them to have a walk and a look around Hillston.

John's lovely garden
They visited the local water spot, Lake Woorabinda, dug out by locals and at the moment, empty, waiting for the summer water allocation; they cooled themselves in the shade outside the lovely garden of church member John Kirton; bought postcards at the Red Dust and Paddy Melon Gallery and found their way to the church. Once there, they enjoyed the cool of the church building as we sat and talked about Hillston life and the lay ministry here. That led on to afternoon tea and then a BBQ, using the food which magically appeared in the church fridge after the word went out last Sunday that the group would be coming and would be dining at the hall.

Hillston Uniting Church building looking fresh and cool after its recent paint job.
In the evening Sue and John ( Uniting Church members) and Lindsay (Anglican lay pastor) talked about the activities of the church. We listed all the different ministries in the community, had a slideshow playing and a display table of flyers and posters we’d used to advertise.
They were very interested in the various activities, particularly in our hosting of the Backpackers at the BBQ last year and in church. (You can read about these in past blog entries.) 
The way we do lay ministry,with all members putting in towards the life of the church, according to what we can do, without an ordained minister, was very different from how things happen in Sydney so they found that, too, of great interest and inspiration.

We hope that they picked up lots of ideas to take into their future ministry during their time in the Riverina.

In return we got information about and offers of help for, the various activities we have running here but most significantly the students were an appreciative, open audience and those present from Hillston on the night felt greatly encouraged by their warmth and enthusiasm for what we are doing here.

The group prepares to leave on the following day.
On their way to the next venue the next day the students met up with Julie in Griffith (on her way from one place to the other as she does) for a few hours to hear about the work of the Rural Chaplains serving the communities of  NSW west of the mountains.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Asking the Hard Questions, Living with the Hard Answers -Part 2

The following week I took part in the Moderator’s Murray Darling Basin Consultation in Albury.
We heard from farmers, scientists, experts, economists and environmental and just good folk. It was a robust conversation held in place by the Moderator who helped us listen to each other in a state of Grace. 

 We witnessed God’s Spirit move over the room, as a question was put regarding asking “Hard Questions” about the keeping the river healthy and how we use it.
Some of the farmers said, “How can we answer when we are seen as the problem? The blame always comes to us”.
A person explaining the science of the river asked the question,
“Do you hear blame in what I said?”
Answer –“Yes!”
This led into a state of Grace.
Affirmation that the farmers had worked hard at finding ways to use water better was offered and accepted.

It was pointed out that one of the hard questions is -How do we meet the needs of all groups without demonising and still get the best outcomes for the river?” 
What followed were people hearing each other, and themselves, resolving discussion and reconciliation. It’s not my place to tell who and why and what but this for me changed the rest of the consultation.
Friends, God calls us on risky paths by asking the hard questions but by acting on the even harder answers we can “Unite for the Common Good”. Forgiving is not always forgetting but it is moving forward with God’s help through His Son Jesus Christ.  The church has always been in the hard places when one no one else can or will go there.

Secondly, Jesus takes us out of our comfort zone. He opens us to hear and walks with us to lead his people. Like Moses and Jesus we are not about doing “nice things.” They stood for those hard questions that make us wish someone else would step up but only by hearing each other do we move towards an answer.
Thanks to all who bravely ask and try to answer those questions in Christ’s name.
Rural Chaplain, Rev Phill Matthews

Friday, 8 November 2013

Asking the Hard Questions. Living with the Hard Answers -Part 1

Life has had me doing some trips down to Sydney and beyond. These where, for the most part, learning experiences.

The Safe as Churches Conference in Sydney, held at the most unusual school I have ever been to! In the heart of Town Hall Square is the St Andrews Cathedral School in a 9 storey building. The roof was our lunch spot also their playground and sports area.A basketball court was inside. Meeting with leaders from the major denominations from Anglican and the Coptic Church to Uniting and all in between, Lay and Ordained sat side by side round tables. The daily worship was very good. 180 people in a space for 100 led to great conversation!  
The key note speaker, Rev Dr Marie Fortune, from the USA was very much a part of the Conference. Not just an expert, she came to hear our stories and sat in the electives. Her stories were relevant for our own journey as churches. I found Marie also added a sound theological foundation to what it means to be a safe and open church facing the reality of what has happened and how we move to make things right for survivors in a legal and pastoral way. She challenged, and also encouraged, the leaders of the churches present.
The two days has in many ways given me much broader experience to call on when presenting a Safe Church Workshop.

Active listening 
The “Trauma and Hope” seminar, led by Richard Elms, was again very helpful for me, particularly as it crossed over the work as a “Safe Church” person and as a Rural Chaplain, working with people in trauma after a disaster. I picked up a number of ideas to help me grow my skills. This talk supported the information from the “Recovery from Trauma” workshop held for Coonabarabran agencies by Dr Rob Gordon the previous week. They both said that we have a role in helping people move forward by listening to the story and if they have a spot that they forget, asking them what happened and helping them join the dots together. This helps them move on in their recovery, simply by asking and listening.

Making our church safe is not some regulation. It is God’s call for us to care for His sheep and as more of you take on the ministry of God in your community we need people, including you, to feel safe in all aspects of your mission.

Phill Matthews

*CSG - Coal Seam Gas

Friday, 1 November 2013

A Good Day Out in Weilmoringle

While those in the East were fighting the fires of last week,in the North West there were different issues.

This view of a dried out crop due to the lack of rain this season shows the reason for the Good Day Out, to give people a welcome break from the bleakness of that landscape. 

                   " And come they did from all around, to eat the food and hear the sound."

But that's enough from me -
Phill was there and gave this report of the day.

 "It was a great day from the start. 
We had church run by the Anglican Minister from Bourke, Graham Yeager. Lloyd, the Salvation Army Rural Chaplain and I, assisted with singing and a reading, Communion was shared and the crowd was growing.
Judy had got all our needs for us as she runs local shop and Post Office. We loaded the caravan with the boxes and brought them from the shop to the Shed.

All ready just in time! Eleven AM after church, the utes came from every direction. 

The BBQ was fired up, snags and steak- none your 'rare', 'medium'- just, "cooked." Salads laid out, quick word of thanks and we’re off. (Luckily one of the church goers had brought bottles of iced water. Gee, you get hot cooking in a shed in the bush.)

 First course done, they settle in for the long haul. I’d never been to one of these but people were yarning and laughing and making the most of their time together.

The Bush Poet, Andrew Hull, asked for hush and off he went. Funny poems, sad poems and in between. The Darling River Dirt Band (less 2) kept saying sorry for being short of members but they were excellent!
Next thing I know a member of the Dirt Band calls out,
 “Well time for the fruit!”
I raced to van and brought across oranges, bananas, mandies, pineapples and other such treats. I got some big plates and threw it all on.

Time then to speak. I thanked them for coming and explained about Julie having to attend to the fire situation and told them I’d been left with the fruit buying job. (Well, I had volunteers fixing it up. Funny what happens when you act helpless!)* Prayers were said for those in bush fire zones, the fire fighters, the support workers, for rain on the fire and out here too.

Well, the idea did work. The day was indeed a Good Day Out! Eighty people turned up on the day! All the info bags and lots of the papers with info all went, food was eaten.

By 8pm the last ones left. Every person said,

 “Thanks and gee, it was good! Be sure to come back!”

I make it sound fun and it was, but conversations of fears were in the middle of food and music “dry storms”. Talk of tanks empty for the first time in decades, stock away with a month of feed left.

                       But as one lady said, “When we come to this we know we not alone.”

* ( Ah,Phill -we're on to you now!)

Friday, 25 October 2013

This Week - From the North West to the East.

This week started with a focus on the North West with final arrangements being made for the Good Day Out in Weilmoringle, an event to give a welcome break and opportunity to socialise, for people in drought stricken Weil . For a lot of us the drought is over but for some it continues and the North West is one of those places.
Quickly though, the focus changed from that fun event to one of dealing with the bush fires that had hit the mountains and other areas normally considered East to those on this side of the mountains.

Phill, closer toWeil geographically, committed himself to attending the Good Day Out, while Julie turned her attention to the bush fire situation. It all came on very quickly and Julie spent a day and a night, followed by more days on the phone organising disaster relief chaplains to go into areas hit by fires to provide a listening ear to those who had to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Normally she would be in the field herself but this time she was manning the phone in a co-ordinating role.
So constant was the need that there was not much sleep the night the fires hit and in the days which followed no time for even for ordinary tasks like cooking meals. Tuna and rice became a necessary favourite and church friends brought in shopping supplies and meals.
Being able to keep commitments to one planned event and also serve in an emergency proves the benefits of having two full time chaplains and one in a part-time supporting role.

                   A reminder to those who want to offer help and who ask "What can we do ?

                   Don't send 

It just becomes more work for those in the field.

Do send 

It is easier to distribute and more use to the people you are trying to help.

*As I write this on Wednesday night the situation is easing and the planned evacuation of the Mountains seems to be halted. We pray that the situation will continue to cool tonight and the danger be over for those many people in that area.
*Please do what you can to spread the word about the best way to help.
*Last year a blog was written on how to help in an emergency and the Moderator has put out a statement too so if you want to know more you can google those items.

Friday, 18 October 2013

"Budget cuts mate!"

As a Rural Minister sometimes you have to be prepared for anything...........

Jorge Rebolledo found this during his job as Flying Patrol officer for Frontier Services (a position formerly known as the Flying Padre.)

During his early days in the job he had arrived at a station he was visiting for the first time. Standing at about five foot five, Jorge was greeted by the station owner,

                       " Gee, mate -you're a lot shorter than the last bloke! He was 6 foot tall!"

                       "Budget cuts mate!" replied Jorge with a wry smile.

Jorge is now working in Sydney but he found it a welcome return to old haunts out west when he was invited to preach in Hillston at the Ecumenical Sesqi-Centenary Service on September 22nd.

 A colleague of Julie's from his time out here, Jorge and his family stayed in her home during the visit and led a worship time in the local park,which was attended by about 150-200 locals and visitors.We sang and prayed from beautifully prepared Frontier Services worship material,which Jorge explained can be carried and used frequently as patrol officers fly from station to station, town to town, sometimes preaching, baptising or counselling but mainly, just being friends with people in isolated places in NSW.

On one such occasion he was using a specially prepared portable baptism bowl given to him as a gift to use in his ministry. Having filled it with water, he turned to speak with the parents and take the child but found on turning back, that there was now no water in the bowl! On closer inspection it was found to be full of holes as the knots in the wood from which it was made let the water flow freely through. Politely refusing an offer from one of the children present to use her chewing gum to plug the gaps, he as eventually able to get enough water in the bowl to complete the baptism before the bowl ran dry. Now repaired with wax, the bowl is still in use.

To the children he spoke about God's wonderful and orderly creation and the need to rest on the 7th day.This was a welcome message for the adults present too, as "busyness" is the modern catch phrase. We all feel burdened by busyness. If God rested - surely we need to as well.

To the whole group he spoke about the parable of the Lost Sheep and reminded us that the work we are called to by God is often not easy going.Like the work of looking after sheep,which Jorge had seen many times on stations, it can be very dirty work but working out in the field is where God would have us be.
                                            We need not worry Jesus will be there with us.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Rural Ministry in Various Forms

The BCA Dusty Boots program
 -Teenagers help out in rural Australia (google it!)

Last week in Lindsay Whybrow's article, mention was made of Bush Church Aid, an Anglican based organisation, which seeks to "share the gospel, build up the church and care for people all around Australia." BCA places field staff, co-workers and affiliates across the continent, working as pastors- like Lindsay- teachers, evangelists, chaplains or nurses. The children's program mentioned last week is a collaboration between Lindsay and larger city-based churches organised through the Bush Church Aid link. 
As you can probably already see, ministry occurs in this region in several different ways.
One way is through organisations like Bush Church Aid, another is through ordained ministry placements in rural churches, although these are rare. In the Uniting Church Riverina Presbytery for example, only 4 such positions, plus one Presbytery minister, exist.

Julie, with Josie & the pre- school children,
 at Weilmoringle.

Another is through the Rural Chaplains -Julie and Phill, and others like them, who serve the more isolated towns in the West. Chaplains are called in during crisis situations like fire, flood or suicide to support those affected but they also work continually getting to know people in rural communities and helping them to overcome isolation and reach their goals for their community.
Kaltara Lay Preachers Retreat 2013 at Galong

Lay people play a huge role in rural ministry. Often left wondering how they would cope without a minister when they could no longer afford one, they have found that God has given them the gifts, faith and strength to keep going and He had blessed their ministry. Now lay people lead worship, preach, serve in a pastoral role, care for those in their community and minister through performing weddings and funerals. This often is greatly appreciated by the communities as they are shown God's loving care through the lives of these lay ministers,who they see as people just like themselves.
RMU meeting to organise the Rural Ministry Conference.
Supporting this work is the RMU- the Rural Ministry Unit- a gathering of ordained and lay rural ministers who share ideas and support and promote rural ministry and the UME - the Uniting Mission and Education resourcing team which builds the knowledge and skills base of the church across NSW and ACT.

In addition, Resource workers and ministers support lay people by organising workshops, researching and making new resources available.

Frontier Services staff travel across remote areas of Australia
to attend the Centenary celebrations in Melbourne in 2012.
In the Uniting Church, Frontier services is another organisation which, since the days of Rev. John Flynn, has worked with outback communities to 'empower them as communities and individuals, to overcome the disadvantages of living in remote locations." It has up to 1000 staff who deliver a range of services to assist with health, family support, aged care, finances,crisis situations and pastoral support and ministry.

One such minister was Jorge Rebolledo who visited Hillston for its Sesquicentenary Celebration Ecumenical service but that's another story...

Friday, 4 October 2013

Church links

As the Father sent me, I am sending you." John 20:21

Hillston Anglican Church
We have mentioned in the blog before the idea of offering help to churches out West.This week we want to share an article written on the theme by Lindsay Whybrow, the lay pastor at Hillston Anglican for the Anglican news in 3D.

  Every so often the idea of Link churches, or churches linking up for prayer and mutual support, gets an airing. 
As a small church and community at Hillston, we feel well positioned to make some comments on the whole idea of Link churches, as it affects us.
As a Bush Church Aid linked church, we are privileged to have a number of churches keen to link with us and do mission with us.For links to work, they must be voluntary. There is no place for the unwilling, or the hesitant; but sometimes we just need to give it a go and see where it leads us.
 Linking with us are some large churches (from Canberra and Sydney), some of which come to us to do mission. Others regard themselves as Companion churches in a variety of ways, and others as prayer linked churches.
 Who benefits from these links? We, as a small rural community certainly do. But so too do the larger city based churches. There are things to learn and things to share all around. Moreover, there are permanent relationships to be forged
The churches that come to us as a mission team are one form of support. They usually target one area of ministry, such as children's work, or High school ministry, or remote community ministry.

Kid's Club in action at the Anglican Centre.
It is a very valuable form of outreach to a community for those churches who avail themselves of it. This is especially so since we are not able to do these things with our own resources.
            However, this is not the only form of partnering. There are other low key visits as well as the high powered ones.
For instance, a visit from a couple who come from the city church to share the weekend with us. No real pressure; no prepared agenda; only the fellowship that is gained.
            Another easy way to link is to send through (e-mail) the weekly news sheet, to keep us smaller churches in touch with how other churches do things; what programmes do they run? What message do they bring to broaden our horizons? and so on.
            Naturally it needs to be said that we should reciprocate by making the effort to attend our partner churches when we are visiting the city. This is always well received, especially by people who cannot make visits but who are keen to put a face to the names they pray for and support.
            Is there a way of measuring the value of link churches? To summarize and conclude, let us consider this range of benefits and blessings.
            * Small and large churches are able to share. They are different, and they both gain through sharing.
            * Supporting visitors bring a variety of gifts to be shared; gifts we lack.
            * The community at large is stirred by the interest being shown in their town.
            * Visitors give an opportunity for the church to refocus, and not be so self- preoccupied.
            * The visits give the opportunity of a listening ear to country church people.
            * Having keen young people as part of the team is uplifting to all, as we see their enthusiasm for Christ. And this encourages the (few) youth in our own churches, even providing them with role models.
            * There can be healing of rifts between city and country people, breaking down the divide of strongly held views.
            * Having an influx of visitors at our worship services can be so refreshing to churches who are used to so small numbers.
            * Being encouraged in our faith as we are reminded that there are a lot of people who love and share belief in the gospel of Christ. We are not alone.

Lindsay with his wife, Lyn.
 It is good to have a programme of mission, especially on a regular basis. But obviously not all churches (even large ones), are geared up to run missions for us.
Nevertheless, stepping out of their comfort zone and making a contribution to the unity of Christ, can result in many benefits and God's blessing on the fellowship that is gained.

  Lindsay Whybrow
 Christ the King Anglican Church, Hillston

Friday, 27 September 2013

Ever had one of those conversations.....? - A Learning about ESL class in Hillston

"Ever had one of those conversations when you speak English and the other person does not? You find yourself speaking louder and louder but it’s still not helping them understand and you aren’t really catching on to their German, Mandarin or Korean either. School French helps a bit but….."

This was the question we asked ourselves in Hillston when thinking about how to communicate better with the 400 backpackers who come here each year in October for the cherry picking,the backpackers who stay on a visit our churches and work here and the people of other cultures who live here.

At the 2012 backpacker BBQ held last season.

A few months ago I mentioned in the blog about the interest in town regarding a workshop on better communication between cultures. A TAFE teacher was interested in coming over to Hillston and it was arranged for September the 13th. 
In all 14 people participated and found it a very informative day as we were capably taught by Alanna Townsend from Griffith TAFE,an experienced ESL teacher (teacher of people from other cultures). Alanna prepared a great workshop and useful resources for home tutoring,conversation groups,work situations or in daily contact with people.
Several participants are keen to start a conversation group to help ESL speakers learn English and make them feel welcome in town. A few are keen to home tutor some Hillston residents wanting to learn English through distance education.

A good result and we look forward to seeing what develops from this. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile here are  few tips on speaking with  a non-native speaker-
  • Speak clearly and pronounce words correctly
  •   Speak slowly
  •   Turning up the volume does NOT create instant understanding
  •    Don’t cover your mouth
  •    Avoid running words together(How-r-ya-goin) and avoid idioms
  •    Choose simple words
  •   When repeating, repeat it as you said it the first time
  •    Be explicit
  •   Listen and try not to form your response while the other person is talking
  •    Draw pictures/mime       
  •    Be patient and smile –a smile conveys a lot in any language.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Phill recounts his experiences at RMU Conference, August 2013

Arriving in Mulgoa, the first thing we did was to talk about going into city for a Service of Lament led by Moderator. This was a chance to stand as one - Rural and City against the way our country’s leaders had lost sight of human need.

It was a great service and I, like many, felt a pride standing on the steps of Pitt Street Uniting at the end of the service holding a candle as the Moderator addressed the press. Many ministers donned their white collars and black shirts. Many of us wore our name tags, yellow ear tags with our name and UCA Rural Ministry on them, indicting we were from the country areas.

 Workshops: To catch up the time away at the service, we gave up our free time so all the things planned could still happen. We had a number of visitors speak from UME and Uniting Care plus Simon Hansford, Bronwyn Murphy and Karen Burchell- Thomas.
 I liked the fact that most of the time they had us split into table groups to work on building stronger relationships.  One of the sessions was to help us ask” intentional questions”, others were to look at “What now for RMU?”

We had interesting insights from the Peter Worland, Interim Executive Director, opening up some questions of how we use what we have to take the church forward.
Three of the Community Development workers from around the state shared stories from their area.-Chris is based in Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery, Corrina from Dubbo and Neil from Riverina. Their projects were very well received by all present and very encouraging to hear.

Sunday: The RMU AGM.
 Simon as outgoing Chair gave a very passionate report on changes and where the RMU fits in the life of the Synod. The Committee was reshaped as it usually is at the AGM when official positions are voted on.  The conference closed with a Communion service led by Darren Wright.

What did I get out of this time?
 This was my first RMU Conference so was I not sure what it would be like but I found it a worthwhile experience. The theme “Mission Possible” was a challenge to us all that “we can do it.”  The skill based talks honed “what we have” into “what we need.”  I found the groups looked at the core of ‘Community of God building, ’asking and listening to, questions of passion; sharing “yours” without drowning  “theirs.”
The UME and UnitingCare people added to the combined rural wisdom in the room.  I built some good relationships with many new people and added to those already started with others I know, but do not see very often.

Thank you for assisting me in attending this conference.

I found as Rural Chaplain it was helpful in connecting with folk from around the state in a good way and the conversations opened up many opportunities and relationship. The speakers gave us a positive view of the Church but also challenged us to look at new exciting ways to be the 21st Century church.
I found the RMU Conference an uplifting and informative time and a time of team building with fellow NENW people, as well as those from other presbyteries across the Synod 

                                               Rev Phill Matthews, Rural Chaplain


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