Friday, 25 July 2014

Endings and New Beginnings - Sue recounts her experiences at the Riverina Presbytery Retreat - Galong – June 2014.

The End of the Retreat with Communion, in all senses of the word, showed that we had all learned a   lot about New Beginnings. 

The view over the gardens at Galong, looking east.
Set in beautiful Galong, a place designed to refresh the soul, the retreat ran over 3 days for Lay Preachers in the Riverina. The weather was cold and wet and windy outside but we were warm and dry and well fed inside. Each day was a blend of study, discussion, singing, prayer, creativity, Tai Chi, nourishing food and free time.
Musicians, Darren Wright and Jeff Flynn.

Many arrived in need of a break on Monday; some because they were planning to go to new places of ministry, others having begun in new places and some continuing in the same old place but looking to be refreshed and keep going. Most left refreshed and renewed on Thursday.
Ministry of any kind is not for the faint hearted. Many things can impact on us to make us less effective in our ministry. One of these -dealing with loss and grief of any kind -Brian Brown, focused on and walked us through, over the 3 days.

The gathering at morning tea and discussion time.

By recognising the areas in our lives that are causing us grief and feelings of loss, we can name them and work through them, towards new beginnings. To carry them along and let these issues pile up we can exhaust ourselves.
Together we looked at how God the Father in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New, was constantly calling people to new beginnings.
By looking closely at how He did this we had a lot to learn about this process in our own lives, how God challenges us to a life lived to the full and how He supports us on the way, how He has provided a model in the Psalms, the Lament, which names our loss or pain. 

God is reflected in our beautiful surroundings.
Once named in front of God our disappointments and hurts are handed over to Him to deal with. We can then walk on more freely to begin again.

Given time to write our own laments , Larraine Hoffman produced this one,based on her experiences in ministry. It reflects the common experience of us in the grief about the changes in our churches but ends with the hope that God will provide an answer and new life as He has done many times in the past."

Riverina Rural Lament:
Listen to my words, O God and hear my sighs
I am worn out, O Lord, have pity on me,
Give me strength; I am completely exhausted
How long will you wait to help us?
You never know where the new life will come from!
 Hillston bible study group old and new members.

Our numbers continue to dwindle and our
congregation is getting older,
Our loved ones have moved away, and our     
young ones are indifferent
Where do we go from here Lord?

I am gripped by fear and trembling
What is in our future?
How can we find a clear path to follow?
Who is there to lead?

Give praise to the Lord
For He hears our cry for help
The Lord protects his people
The Lord will save his people and bless them.
                                                Larraine Hoffmann

Our communion meal.


Larraine's Lament and our theme song from the retreat,Galilee Song, summarise our time together,as did the closeness of our fellowship as we broke bread together.

 Sue Chapman                  


Galilee Song
Galilee at dawn
We are reminded in our daily life of Jesus' presence with us.
The cross glows in the evening sky above a busy street
 in Port Macquarie.
Deep with in my heart I feel
Voices whispering to me,
Words that I can’t understand,
Meanings I can’t clearly hear,
Lest I leave myself behind,
Calling me to walk into
Evening shadows one more time!

Refrain: So I leave my boats behind,
Leave them on familiar shores,
Set my heart upon the deep,
Follow you again my Lord!

2. In my memories I know
How you send familiar rains,
Falling gently on my days
Dancing patterns on my pain,
And I need to learn once more,
In the fortress of my mind,
To believe in falling rain
As I travel deserts dry!  
3.As I gaze into the night,               
Down the future of my years,
I’m not sure I want to walk
Past horizons that I know.         
But I feel my spirit called
Like a stirring deep within
Restless,’til I live again
Beyond the fears that close me in.

(Frank Anderson msc & ChevalierMusic)

Friday, 18 July 2014

On the Road with Rural Chaplain, Phill Matthews

This is a sunrise shot. It was dark when I left home!

“ Come look at this,” Aunty Josie tells me, so we drove up to the cemetery.
 She showed me the re-covered shade house and then we went in.  Across to the far side stands a group of well-kept graves, with colour bursting out in the sunlight. “This is my family - Aunty, uncle, brother and brother-in-Law”. 

Around the graves, as you see in the photo, bottles are turned upside down to mark out the grave. They then cover the top with glass. The glass is collected from around town and then washed and cleaned. Then they boil it all up in a tin and add cold water. This change, from boiling to cold, explodes the glass into the thousands of shapes we see. Some vases are also used.  There are also toys, statues and other momentos on the graves. 

Alongside those there were a number of graves with no markers on them. They will get the treatment too - Josie knows who they are.

She then took me over to the far corner to the grave of a young man from New Zealand who drowned in the river close by many years ago. The other group of graves was related to the other families from the camp. 

There are plans to do some more work from both sides of the Community.  Land Council people are looking to do it as a project.
The small villages or camps sprang up around homesteads, on or close to tribal sites. The history is held by a few, mostly in their heads.  One of the projects I am looking at is getting this history recorded in some form. Fixing up the cemetery is a way of making that happen.

With the help of DPI worker, Ellen Day, we are seeking to start out at Wanaaring. This will be done by both European and Indigenous people in that area. Looking forward to following this up.  It will also hopefully, help build resilience for those facing the drought.

All good 'til the power pole truck came round the corner!

I also talked to the School staff picked up a wayward hat I left behind then   I asked is  there a “quick” way from Weilmoringle to Lightning Ridge via Goodooga as I was meeting with the school Principal and his wife to do some local champion work with them, and hopefully, a new school chaplain.
This connection grew from a meeting at a drought recovery program run few weeks back.  I find it rewarding how, if when we give time to people, many connections grow from these meetings.

 I also wonder why every time I go to The Ridge there is a “big event” on - Melbourne Cup and this trip, State of Origin. "Go the blues, or Reds." This close to the border you have to cover your back. I took the back road home - very interesting road too. The roads get fun after a bit of rain and a lot of drought!

PS    Remember the Murray Darling Blog?     

 Applications for the bus tours are opening for those who would like to find out for themselves the full stories from farmers, scientists and Indigenous people. I am driving one of the mini buses and taking photos (not at same time), as well as being Chaplain for those involved.

Tour details and information about events being co-ordinated by the Murray Darling Basin Group are on the website.    

Friday, 11 July 2014

A New Beginning

"Mrs Nash would have loved to see the church full of children"  was one of my thoughts as I took part in the service in the old building of the Condobolin Uniting Church. It was a church which I attended for a number of years but the congregation eventually grew too small to keep it going.

The children singing
But instead of becoming an empty relic the building has a new lease of life. The premises were handed to the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and they have formed a partnership with a local Aboriginal congregation - Freedom in Christ Ministries.

Di Torrents, Chairperson Regional Council of UAICC with Pastor Beth Wolfe of the Freedom for Christ Ministries
The handover was just wonderful. It was lovely to catch up with a couple of the remaining members from the old congregation and many of my Aboriginal friends from Condobolin. Firstly there was a very inspirational service in the church, which was packed. The highlight was the children singing.

Then lunch under the marquee out the back with lots of time to catch up with friends.

This sort of partnership has come about because the Macquarie Darling Presbytery has a very definite policy to offer empty church buildings to the UAICC if they can use them. The three way partnership in Condobolin is a great example of a wonderful outcome of this policy.

And why did Mrs Nash come to mind ?
Because each week she faithfully put out material for children use but none ever came while I was there. She would have been so touched by all the kids that were in church on this marvelous day!
Bill and Val Nash who gave many years of faithful service to Condobolin Uniting Church (and Methodist church before that)


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Friday, 4 July 2014

Chaplains in the town of Ivanhoe.

While Phill was on the road to Wanaaring and back and preparing for the Ridge, Julie and Sue took a shorter trip out to Ivanhoe from Hillston.

As far as the eye can see on the road to Ivanhoe.
The biannual Ivanhoe Women's Lunch was on Saturday the 21st, so we decided to go, for Sue to meet a few of the ladies and Julie to meet up with long term contacts and friends. The lunch is organised as a get together by two women, Gerrie and Leonie, so women can share some social time.

Sue was amazed at how far most of the women had travelled to be there. Most came off properties in the area and it was nothing to drive 110-140kms. We thought we were pretty good driving in from Hillston but we had less of a drive then some of the locals.

As one of the ladies said when I commented on it."Well, if you don't do that, you don't go anywhere."

The women were of all ages,all sharing together over a meal and enjoying having a catch up. Also there to enjoy were makeup, clothes and candles to buy, raffles to win and donations to be made for the local hospital auxiliary.
As we enjoyed desserts we were able to converse with several of the ladies; Julie catching up and Sue learning new names and faces.

Unexpected greenery at the Ivanhoe Central School playground.
 A real plus was the possibility which opened up of Clare Primary School, one of the most isolated schools in the state, linking up with a Sydney church and Ravenswood School in a mutually beneficial partnership,similar to that held between Pymble Uniting, Knox, PLC and Enngonia. That was the big news for us of the day.
That- and the rain that threatened to make the road home impassable! Good news for farmers but a bit of a "something to watch" for us.
No worries though-we made it home safely and were blessed with a rainbow on the way.

We almost got the opportunity to drive through a rainbow on the way home.


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