Over the long weekend in September last year, Northcliffe celebrated its 90th birthday. Northcliffe was founded solely for the ‘Group Settlement Scheme’ and is believed to be the only one still alive today.
Saturday’s celebrations included an afternoon of catching up with pioneer descendants and past residents followed by a Celebratory Ball. Sunday started with an ecumenical church service at 9.00am led by the Uniting Church’s Rev Peter Harvey and the Anglican Church’s Rev Cassandra Nixon. This saw the Uniting Church building seating capacity stretched to the limit with not only visitors, but also the support of nearby worshipping communities, especially Pemberton. Before a word was spoken or song sung, one could really feel Gods love.
In the earlý years Northcliffe was deemed a mission field. Church or Sunday School happened whenever a priest or missionary – be it Salvation Army, Methodist, Presbyterian or other – was visiting, word would go around and meetings would be held, often in the group school or even in the bush during the week or weekends. In the mid 1980’s there were four Christian churches meeting independently in a community of around 500 people and three church buildings not being used every Sunday.
In mid-2000 the Uniting and Anglican churches arranged their services on alternate weeks so as to attend each other’s services. One God, one salvation through Jesus Christ and a desire to be able to meet and worship as church weekly saw the two bodies respectfully acknowledging and embracing the different styles of worship of each other.
For the year ahead we do see some new challenges with Peter taking a new placement as chaplain at Fiona Stanley Hospital, as well Cassandra moving to retirement after Easter. The strong possibility is that each vacancy will require leadership to take on a different form with the new challenges that will bring.
‘Unity in diversity’ sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it, but is it? Unity by conformity sounds easy, but how narrow a view of God’s great riches that would give us.