Every church in community has its unique challenges and the Uniting Church in Port Hedland is no different. Port Hedland is an industrial town. The majority of people who come to live here come to work and they work hard, long hours, odd shifts with little time to engage the community outside of their working environment and for a comparably short length of stay.
The average turnover of stayers at the last count was 13 months. Some of the social issues that reflect the harshness of this environment include the high incidence of aggressive working environments, resulting in workers experiencing bullying and intimidating managerial tendencies; high incidence of hidden and exposed domestic violence, broken and struggling relationships, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, depression, isolation, and suicide. We have found ourselves being drawn to the quiet, meditative, and reflective space for worshipping together.
Along with a compelling awareness of the need to intentionally create safe and radically welcome spaces for the diversity of beliefs, lifestyles and spiritualities of the people who form our worshipping community. This involves for us the reflective practice of radical openness to listening, honouring, accepting and learning alongside the differences present. So we nurture an intentional awareness of some of the language, concepts and worship structures that we use to express our Christian faith that tend to stifle different expressions of spirituality, and that also cuts across the integrity of those different stances.
Our place and space (despite the extreme transient nature of our community) consistently becomes a gift for those in our community for whom ‘normal’ Christian worship is not safe, nor honouring of them, for whatever reason. We are embarked on a journey of radical inclusiveness.
Open Space is one way in which this will be made even more possible. Open Space is a method of meeting together in which people are given the opportunity to create their own agenda, and to explore, question and respond to a theme or issue in whichever way they wish. It opens up the possibility of bringing passion and responsibility together, to share together, contribute to, listen and learn from each other from a place of difference.It also encourages each person to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth, and their own passions, beliefs, faith and lifestyle stances.
Please gently hold us in your prayers as we seek even more to journey within this place of radical inclusiveness in sacred space. For more information about Open Space Technology visit http://www.openspaceworld.org