Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday

Hillston Uniting Church
                 The empty cross rises into the sky at Hillston to remind us that we serve a Risen Lord.

                                                     " Loves redeeming work is done;
                                                      Fought the fight,the battle won;"
                                                      vain the stone, the watch, the seal:
                                                      Christ has burst the gates of hell.

                                                     " Lives again our glorious King;
                                                      where O death is now your sting?"*

                                     As Australian Christians we can truly say - "No worries!"

* Charles Wesley's triumphant words from "Together in Song" 370

Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday


Easter comment by Michael Leunig from his book of Collected Cartoons.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rural Chaplains Gather

The Rural Chaplains of NSW Network meets twice a year (my editor, Sue, tells me that the correct word is “biannually” but I can never remember if that is every 6 months or every two years!) in different places, and this time we were hosted by the Salvation Army Rural Chaplains in West Wyalong. There were chaplains from the Salvation Army, the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and of course, the Uniting Church.

These meetings are always great times of fellowship, sharing and developing ways we can work together. This time we had a focus on natural disasters and how we can coordinate recovery and pastoral efforts across the denominations. We had sessions with the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services and the Rural Fire Service that helped to broaden our understanding of how the various systems work and how Chaplains can be effective at these times. We also talked about where various denominations were putting their efforts after the fires in January, places that are not currently being covered and how we could coordinate what we were doing


As always I came away from the meeting praising God for faithful people from all the denominations who are as passionate about those living in the bush as I am, and who are just as committed to be the People of God in whatever places we find ourselves.

Nolene and Les Barrass, Salvation Army Rural Chaplains based in West Wyalong

Friday, 15 March 2013

Phill - Our new Rural Chaplain!

New Rural Chaplain -Phill  Matthews

I am the new Rural Chaplain my name is Phillip Matthews, I prefer Phill; I started as a Rural Chaplain based in Narrabri this month. Big thanks to the folks of Narrabri for making us so welcome.

 So who am I?
I was born in the North East of England. I came to Australia with my family in 1968 when I was 16.
My wife, Lyn, and I have 2 children, and 5 wonderful grandchildren (2 boys & 3 girls) and they all live in the Campbelltown area. We also have a faithful dog, BJ, a Blue healer cross who chose us on a holiday to Forster 9 years ago.

Pre-church I worked as a stockman on piggeries did tractor driving and fencing/clearing. I owned a trucking company, mainly selling soft drinks and a bit of general carrying. This was in the Young district. I returned to Sydney to take up Youth Work in the Campbelltown suburb of Claymore in a Community Youth Centre, then I became the co-ordinator of a Youth refuge sponsored by the Uniting Church, from 1986-1996.

In this time I took on “tent-maker ministry” in Claymore as part of “Parish on the Way”, made up of 2 house based churches. In 1996 I moved into fulltime ministry with “Parish on the Way” and with Airds High School as South West Community Youth Worker, as Chaplains had been stopped in public schools. (They came back in 3 months after I finished this ministry in 2006). This time was split between community ministry and youth work. We had a Dept of Housing house as our base and church. We ran a Kids club of 18 children, Youth group with varying numbers, plus did 8 camps a year and 4 school conferences, as well as Baptisms and weddings, most in the great outdoors.

I have been working with a joint Placement on the Mid North Coast at Nabiac and Hallidays Point Uniting Churches for 7 years. This was a mixture of Rural and Coastal communities, the latter with a high tourist turnover and retirement villages. Also for the last the 4 years I have been the Southern Zone Presbytery Minister for the Mid North Coast; this had me working with a number of Congregations seeking their way forward in these exciting times. I did mission planning Pastor Assessments and trained to present Safe Church workshops as well as the normal Presbytery business of  PRC Standing Committee .

  I have been in ministry since 1974 – as youth group leader, elder, a Partner in Mission, a Lay Pastor; then I became a Minister of the Word in 2008 through the transition process. This was an affirming move by the Synod and my presbyteries.  I have been in churches in Blacktown - Lalor Park, Yeoval, Young, Campbelltown, Claymore, Rosemeadow, Airds High school and Nabiac - Hallidays Point .

Why am I a Rural Chaplain?
As Paul Creek read out the profile at ACOMP (of which I was also a member), I heard the call of God to this placement. I spoke to Lyn in the break and she affirmed it sounded like my kind of placement, and she was willing to go if called.  Over the next months, in conversations with the RMU, JNC members, Dorothy Creek and Julie Greig, the Rural Chaplain, my understanding and also call were affirmed.

On the job- Phill and Julie deep in discussion with UnitingCare Community Development officer,Corrina.
I have a love for hearing people’s stories and walking with those on the margins of community and the church. I believe in building links with church and community. I have had, over many years, come to see my gift in connecting with people in real ways and connecting the gospel to those who feel they do not fit in the mould of the main stream churches. This has been affirmed in many ways .

My background has given me many gifts and experiences that I believe equip me for this role. I love to travel and Lyn and I are used to being in different places, often for a couple of weeks at a time.  So with that, and my background in Rural and Community work, the wisdom of the RMU and a good GPS ( God Prayer Service ) I look forward to meeting the challenges and  to building some good friendships and strong networks.  I will be inducted into the placement on 23rd March at Narrabri UCA at 2pm.

 Oh yes, I love “real” Coffee, so you will probably find me checking out the local coffee shops in your area.  
What am I not good at? Using punctuation and spelling. But I do ask for help (yes, I asked this time)
Rev Phill Matthews
Rural Chaplain  0418627875
 0267922971 madpom52

* Julie and Sue welcome Phill to the work of the Rural Chaplain and look forward to working with him. Sue especially, is looking forward to some coffee times! (We don't let Julie have coffee. She's too active as it is!- No -just joking!)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Response to Disaster Situations -What is the best thing to do?

This year started with bushfires.

Photo courtesy U.C Insight magazine

 During January Julie was responsible for the Disaster Response co-ordination, as the usual incumbent in that job took a well earned rest. She had hoped for a quiet time but it wasn't to be. A good season followed by a hot summer had its consequences. Fires broke out in Coonabarabran and surrounding areas,as well as near Sydney, in Victoria and Tasmania.
Julie's job was to co-ordinate the best response to assist people affected in Western NSW. This meant sending in teams of chaplains,trained for the job and mobilising and supporting the local support agencies, community organisations and churches as they worked to assist people affected by the fires.

Coonabarabran Chaplains -Photo from UC Assembly.
 While the Uniting Church offers a raft of assistance during crisis situations individuals and church congregations are often not quite sure what is the best response they might give to a crisis such as a fire or flood.

Here are a few brief guidelines on what you can do to help.

1) Before a crisis
      -Make sure your presbytery has a Disaster Contact Person who has a list of resources and contacts to be called on if the need arises.

2) During and immediately after a crisis churches can:-
     - Call on a Synod trained Peer Supporter to assist your congregation
     - Provide accommodation and facilities for evacutation centres and be on the Recovery Committee to        keep local churches informed about community needs
     - Let people know of church services available in town           
     - Provide kids activities

3) In the Short term -
     -Apply to Synod for support funds to assist in supporting the congregation in supporting the community and for food and school help funds
     -Organise community recovery education, pastoral visitors practical help and ecumenical services to provide spiritual support to those recovering from loss.
     - Keep an eye on the kids and make sure they have something to do while everyone else is so busy.
     -ALWAYS donate cash only.Goods provide logistical problems for recovery teams.

Goods only create problems-Always donate cash *
 4) In the Longer term -
        Communities often feel abandoned after the initial crisis and assistance period is over and    they can find it of takes a long time to recover. On-going support is required.
      -Organise community events,community projects, plant days to replenish gardens and holidays to give people a break and some enjoyment
      - Again- how can you help the children with the changes which have occurred, which may include loss of friends form the area?
      -Ecumenical services of commemoration can be helpful -focus on looking forward and beware of retraumatising by focusing on the pain of the loss.

Each community is different and what works in one place may not work in another but it is hoped that these ideas will give you some ideas of where to start. (For a more detailed outline, provide your email contact through the blog so we can send one to your congregation.)

* Image courtesy of the Colonnade Paper -Georgia college and State University - Photo by Manoj Kunici This pile clothes and goods was donated after Hurricane Sandy in the USA but Australian agencies report similar problems.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Yoga For Seniors in Hillston

A new activity is now available in Hillston. Jenny Jones, the yoga teacher, has started a new class for Seniors. Having attended Jenny's yoga class herself, enjoying it and thinking of activities which would benefit the many older people in Hillston, Julie had the idea of a yoga class for seniors.

The ladies gather before the class.

She spoke with Jenny Jones to see  if it was possible and then with Jenny Rose and Hillston church members to see if the church wanted to be involved in sponsoring it as a service to the community. All thought it a great idea.The next step was to apply to Unitingcare for the Aged for a grant and once this was achieved, the program was up and running.

 The program and exercises are specially designed for the over 55’s, or even the over 75’s! Anyone over 55, male or female, who wants to attend, is welcome to join the class.There is no charge due to the grant and the Uniting Church congregation also provides morning tea free of charge.

Yoga aims to improve balance and breathing as well as posture and flexibility. The aims of the Seniors classes remain the same, even though the program is modified. Instead of getting down on the floor, participants sit, or hold onto a chair, and the movements are gentle and slow. Jenny is very mindful of how each person is managing at all times and encourages the group not to compare one with the other as everyone has different capabilities and are of different ages.

Jenny assists a class member in a balance exercise.

Nine people attended the first class of 20 classes, held at the church hall and most stayed for morning tea afterwards. Everyone enjoyed it and managed very well with Jenny's gentle approach and encouragement.

The next week Jenny added some floor-relaxation work into the session for those who could do it. 16 people attended that class -so the word had got around! The third week also had 16 participants,including one man who thought he'd give it a go.
Next week ?
Who knows? 
Will we need a bigger hall?


View My Stats