On Sunday 17 April at York Uniting Church Rev Ruth Vertigan was inducted into the role of rural ministries co-ordinator in the Uniting Church Western Australia. With the noise of roaring motorbikes in the background (there was a motorbike show on in the centre of town) people from all over regional WA gathered at the historic York Uniting Church to join in celebrating Ruth’s induction. There were people present for Kondinin, Goomalling, Narrogin and Quairading, as well as locals from York, the building was packed.
Rev Alistair Melville, UCWA’s rural ministry associate in Narrogin, opened the induction service with a call to worship and the beautiful church building was filled with voices raised in worship. The moderator, Rev Steve Francis acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and payed respects to their elders past and present. Steve also thanked the York congregation for their hospitality and he acknowledged the many people who had traveled to be there, he also acknowledged associate general secretary (justice and mission) Rosemary Hudson Miller, attending as the representative for the general secretary Rev David De Kock.
Rev Geoffrey Lilburne preached a sermon on Psalm 103 and Jesus’ prayer for believers in John 17. He expressed that while it is a hard task to serve rural communities, as many rural towns are diminishing in size, Ruth is ideally suited for the role. Geoffrey said of her ‘Ruth is not a fair-weather minister’ and recounted the many times in her life when Ruth has shown determination and faithfulness. Geoffrey noted that the promise in Psalm 103:17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him…” speaks to the generational hope of rural communities, that they exist from generation to generation, and that the hope of those communities is in the constant love of God.
The service of induction followed and afterward Ruth gave her response saying she approached her new placement with gratitude and said she felt a great deal of peacefulness in this new placement that “it feels like the right place”. She also acknowledged the service of Rev Loraine Stokes who filled the position previously. Ruth expressed that she wanted those worshiping in rural communities to know that they are not alone or abandoned. She used the analogy of God, being an ocean of grace and mercy, and that sometimes it feels (in rural communities particularly) that you are swimming alone in the ocean, but Ruth wants to remind those swimmers that they are not alone, there are other swimmers in the ocean, and it is the ocean of God’s grace and mercy that connects us.
Following the induction ceremony an afternoon tea was held in the church hall, there was much conversation and fellowship.