Friday, 26 April 2013

Synod - From Beyond the Black Stump

Many things were discussed and decided at the recent NSW Uniting Church Synod, an annual gathering at which church members and leaders can discuss issues relating to the organisation, progress and vision of the Church,  but a few highlights for us out here were:-

1) The Multicultural worship.
 Organised by Katilina Tahaafe-Williams (UME team member responsible for multicultural/Cross Cultural Ministry) several choirs, musicians and dancers worshipped our Lord with exuberance and joy. 

2) Worship time.
 More time was allocated for worship and prayer thus setting the emphasis on God Himself rather than purely on business, thus setting a thankful and wise context to discuss the practical issues.

3) Presentation from the Rural Church
 Prepared by Bronwyn Murphy (UME team member responsible for Lay Ministry, Education, Discipleship and Rural Ministry)and congregation members from the West, it showed the vibrancy and life within the rural church and what it has to offer the wider church. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the notes from the table discussion which followed.

4) Rural Ministry Unit Dinner
Although a little limited due to time constraints, hopefully participants enjoyed the presentations by Knox and PLC students of their visit to Enngonia school and their experiences there and the general discussion on happenings beyond the black stump where God is inspiring His people to follow Him in new ways. The following flyer was placed on the table to show just one example of adaptation and resilience in the rural church.
Beyond the Black Stump

The Merriwagga Pub stands opposite the site of just one of the places claiming to be the original Black Stump. The story tells of a drover’s wife who burned to death at her campsite while he was away. When he returned there was nothing left but a black  stump.

Set in the Riverina Presbytery and in the middle of the Hillston-Gunbar parish this pub is also the place where Hillston –Gunbar church holds its lunch time church council meetings. It’s less distance for everyone to travel.

This willingness to do something a little different to make things work tells something of the resilience of the rural church and its willingness to go out into the community to practise their faith and be known there as God’s people. It also puts money back into the small town of Merriwagga, an action appreciated by the locals.

5) Murray-Darling Proposal.
This proposal held much interest for those in the West affected by recent government decisions about water allocations. It was encouraging that this proposal to 1) look closely and seriously at the issues surrounding water and land use and 2) consider the provision of food for the nation and 3) for the church to be a voice for justice, was passed by such a majority. It is encouraging when ears in the east hear the voices of the west and are willing to work together to make it better for us all.

6) Requests for Involvement in Rural Ministry
A flyer was circulated which outlined ways city, or larger centre, churches could participate in ministry west of the mountains, in small rural churches or unchurched communities. It had some exciting ideas for involvement but more on that next week!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Phill's First 10 days

Hi All,
            What a week was! 
After all the waiting it was time to start and we kicked it off with a Induction service at Narrabri Uniting 23rd March . The heavens opened and the rain came down all Friday and early Saturday, the sun came out in time for lunch and what a lunch !
 The service was led by Rev Jean Bell, Simon preached, Lyn did the bible reading and I sat on a chair and was blessed. Julie and I promised to be good. The people of Narrabri promised to love and care for us and the Presbytery said they’d keep me in line. I got to talk but Simon said I had to be polite, so it was short.

Red and white was the colour, Julie in a nice jacket, Simon, Jean and Rob in their albs and red scarf and me? …. I was in my alb and my rainbow scarf, the sign of hope to take out into the rural community, given to me by Janet Dawson on my ordination.  I thank all who sent good wishes from the Riverina, Macquarie - Darling and Mid North Coast and the Moderator but sorry you missed a good start to ministry and a top sermon.

 Simon challenged us to go out - Matthew 28:16-20 the next day I packed the Camry and headed out early Monday morning.

 As I got things ready for a trip to Bourke and beyond I had left doors open for easy packing. I had the boot done and was getting things ready for the esky. Sitting on the seat next to it, BJ looked to say, "Can I come too?" 

BJ looking keen on an earlier trip.
He stayed there for the whole time I fitted the CB and other bits needed for the road trip. He did come out eventually but was not impressed.

 It was time to hit the road, meeting Julie in Walgett then on to Bre to park the Camry for the night at the hotel in their compound, then out in to outback.

 Julie let me drive as she had to connect with some people on phone so I was now driving a 4WD! This is very different to a Camry ( higher off the ground, nice seats ) BUT it does not corner on the black stuff like the Camry.
 Glad she was on the phone! ( Hmmm- brakes respond to a number 11 boot. )

Well, back to the ……we met some wonderful people over the next couple of day In Weil then Bourke and Enngonia. It was great to see the relationships Julie has grown with so many people in these communities- from the Shire to the Post mistress, teachers, artists and talented children.

Does the Church fulfill Christ’s call in Matthew 28: 16-20?
With the help of all of you who support the work of the RMU ( Rural Ministry Unit) in many ways, your gifts go out and make things we take for granted HAPPEN. Your prayers hold and support those who feel the PAIN OF LIFE and for us who get to go, your support and wisdom ground us and bring us home safe and well.


PS I found good coffee: The next week was Dubbo and then Synod.  BJ got 10 days in the Narrabri Hilton -I'll let you know if he liked it.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Congratulations Sue

We are not the only ones who enjoy Sue's writing. The Country Web has published one of Sue's articles in their latest edition. You can find the Country Web here and Sue's stuff is on page 8. It is a delightful article about living in Hillston.

Well done Sue.

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Induction of Rural Chaplain Phill Matthews.

Jean Bell,Simon Hansford, Phill Matthews, Julie Greig and Rob Buchan at Phill's induction service.
Phill was inducted into the position of Rural Chaplain at Narrabri Uniting Church on 23rd March. He will join Julie in the work of serving the communities of Western NSW as a pastor, counsellor, advocate, friend and motivator. Listening to stories and getting alongside people Phill and Julie seek to serve communities and assist others as they seek to improve the facilities and opportunities of the communities in which they live.

The service featured the colour red as a symbol of induction and focused on serving those who live in rural and remote areas. It was attended by representatives from all over the Synod and as Phill's position has been funded by Synod North Presbytery, it was wonderful to have some representatives from that Presbytery present as well.

And of course it wouldn't be a church function without lots of marvellous food, prepared by the Narrabri congregation!

Phill and his wife, Lyn, after the Narribri service.

                        May you be blessed, Phill, as you bless others in this role.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Reflections on the Lachlan - A visit from the Moderator

                                       EASTER SATURDAY ON THE LACHLAN

                                       The river, hardly moving.

                                       Gum trees, old and gnarled and knowing, have seen it all before-

                                       patiently standing, stoically holding armfuls of raucous corellas,

                                       and a few cockies, too.

                                       Two pink and grey galahs, quietly chatting (not living up to their name).

                                       A tap, tap, tapping from a hollow branch-

                                       what mystery of life lies in that open tomb?

                                       Not a breath of breeze.

                                       In stillness, so much to be seen.

                                       So much to be heard in the hush.

                                                                                                                                          Brian Brown.

The Moderator of the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT is the leader of the church in NSW & ACT,holding his position for 3 years. His role is to visit, listen, encourage and guide and share information as well as chair the formal discussions of the central committees of the church.The Moderator,Brian Brown and his wife, Helen, visited the Riverina area for Easter. Good Friday was spent at Lake Cargelligo and then on the Hillston,where they stayed with Julie. 

On the Saturday Brian took the opportunity, while thinking about his message for Sunday, to take some time-out down by the river. The above reflection was written during that time and read to us during the service to show the benefits of taking some time to spend in quiet, with God, in His creation. 

I found it very moving to hear about the experience of the "Day Between",Easter Saturday, as experienced in our own surroundings,not having to be translated from UK or American experiences of God. It is something we all could do and use in our worship times too. If you have reflections from your area relating to your time with God send them to the blog so they can be shared.
Brian and Helen after the service
Brian spoke during our Easter Sunday Service about the experiences of the wider church and the struggles we are all facing, as Good Friday times. He then encouraged us with the vibrancy he has found in the rural churches where God's Spirit is doing a whole new thing, which shows God has not forgotten His people. He is with us and with His church. We are the people of the resurrection. After the sadness and pain of Good Friday and  the quiet, waiting time of Easter Saturday, we are renewed to life in all it's fullness with Resurrection Sunday. The rural churches,having faced decline, have now found new life and are in a position to be an example to the city churches as they face similar struggles.

Brian and Helen shared a meal with us afterwards and stayed on to kayak, getting even closer to the river.

We are assured they left refreshed by their time here;an Easter Saturday experience of time-out to reflect and give thanks and be loved by God through His people.


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