Uniting the Scattered Community Gathering, Dubbo, January 30 2018
Members of our Presbytery attended this gathering of Uniting Church people from the three western Presbyteries: Riverina, Macquarie-Darling and New England/Northwest. The Riverina was represented by Paul and Janet Ballard (Cootamundra), Paul and Dorothy Creek (Lockhart), Rev. Paul Cosier (Wagga Wagga) and Rev Carolyn and Pastor Andrew Thornley (IIM Presbytery).
The meeting was hosted by Dubbo Uniting Church and led by Rev. Mark Faulkner, the recently appointed Director of Rural and Remote Ministry Initiatives. This appointment is funded by Synod as part of the Saltbush Programme which received its inception at the 2016 Synod. “Through my Ministry”, writes Mark, “our gatherings and Uniting the Scattered Community, we can build a deeper relationship between smaller rural communities and encourage the expression of the Way of Christ amongst others”. Riverina Presbytery representatives (and others who wish to hear more from Mark) will have the opportunity at the forthcoming Presbytery meeting on Saturday 17th February, when Mark will be the guest preacher and also the keynote speaker.
The gathering at Dubbo, (formerly named the Rural Ministry Day), featured a brief but incisive reflection from the Synod Moderator, Rev Simon Hansford. He spoke of the news way of being God’s people (the Church) in a new world. Even though many in the Western World think that the Church is a waste of time, we know that, as followers of Christ, there is always hope in the resurrection. At the same time, the Moderator challenged us to remove some of the burdens of the past and look to the future. “What are the things”, he said, “that we can give thanks for and then lay aside, to enable us to go somewhere new”? In conclusion he noted, “Christ both rules and renews the Church”. What indeed does that mean for us in the Riverina?
Other contributors to the Uniting the Scattered Community Day were the three Presbytery Chairpersons, Rev. Tara Curlewis (Acting UME Director), Rev Dr Ian Robinson (Lecturer in Mission and Evangelism at the Theological College in North Parramatta), Charles Pope of the Project Reconnect and Rev Kath Merrifield (Director of the Pathways Project). There was food for thought and new ideas in all that was said. As Chairperson of Riverina Presbytery, Pastor Andrew Thornley will speak more about this gathering at the Feb. 17th Presbytery meeting.