A quiet lunch for four in country Victoria was the recent setting for the celebration of eighty years of ministry in the church between Rev Dr John Smith and Rev Peter Batchelor.
John and Peter were both born in the Wagin district and went on to service through the Methodist and the Uniting Church. Both were ordained at Wesley Church Perth (now Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth) on 13 of October, 1974. On this fortieth anniversary they met with their loved ones around a table to celebrate the occasion.
John was born in Wagin, and after a stint at the Eastern Goldfields Methodist Mission at Boulder as a Home Missionary in 1968, he studied at the Methodist Barclay Theological Hall and the University of Western Australia. Commencing in 1974 John served in five Parishes in Western Australia and worked for the Uniting Church Synod as the Division of Mission and Nurture Co-ordinator. In 2000 He moved to Hotham Parish Mission in North Melbourne where he pastored to a varied flock including many notable academic and community leaders. John retired in 2013 and continues his reading, writing and occasional teaching on his interests and – always a country boy – commutes between his city home and his country retreat in Castlemaine.
Like John, Peter started his ministry at Boulder before completing his theological studies in a similar manner. Following ordination, he was placed at Lake Grace for four years and had strong links with a number of people in the Wagin Methodist and Uniting Church congregation. Peter served in five parishes in Western Australia during the seventies and eighties. He returned to Broome in 2012 for a brief locum. Peter was transferred to Victoria in 1983 and commenced twentyfive years of ministry as a chaplain within Uniting Church schools.
Instead of retiring he returned to parish work in 2008 and has worked in transitional ministry in four parishes. He is currently working in the Upper Murray in North East Victoria.
An interesting link between the two families was established in 1923. Bill Batchelor, Peter’s father, migrated to Australia from Cheshire in England. When he arrived in Perth he caught the train to Ballaying and walked the track to George Smith’s farm. George was to become the Grandfather of John Smith. Bill worked long and hard with George for several years as a farm hand before joining the railways where he stayed until he retired in 1966.