The Port Hedland community is often called a working town, a community in isolation, whose main focus is work. This makes for a community that is transient and, particularly in the current economic climate, unstable. This dynamic is reflected in the church community. We find ourselves experiencing ‘belonging’ with a completely different group of faces and personalities every 12 to 18 months.
The people, while they are in Port Hedland, work, at times, long hours and long weeks without a break. Those who work in community services work hard, long hours. This church community is one like I have never experienced before. We are small, but we are made up of such different people with rich and disparate beliefs, creeds, and philosophies which inspire and guide our lives.
How does such a uniquely gathered group come together and define themselves as a church community? I suggest that it is by honouring, and being inspired by, a foundational ethos of belonging and acceptance, inspired by the stories of Jesus and others: the foundation not of mere tolerance, but acknowledging and honouring each other’s spirit and the different journeys each one takes.
In our belonging we consider that our role is to create a religious, spiritual, soul-safe place where together we become a support for all who feel welcome among us as they serve the wider community.
Bronwyn Elvery, minister at Port Hedland Uniting Church.