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


View My Stats