A campsite for the journey

On Saturday 10 December, the newly refurbished Uniting Church Campsite in Busselton was converged upon by people from near and far to celebrate the commissioning of the newly opened site.

This commissioning service has been a long time coming. Since falling into disrepair and closing its gates in 2012 the site has been sorely missed by many Uniting Church WA members. The Moderator, Rev Steve Francis, welcomed those gathered, including distinguished guests Busselton Mayor Grant Henley and Hon Barry house, MLC.

Rev Sealin Garlett, chairperson for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) WA Regional Office, gave recognition of the land and our Indigenous brothers and sisters. He told a story of visiting the campsite with his family while he was studying at the Perth Theological Hall thirty years ago.

Sealin said that on returning to the site he could feel the spirit in the place and that it was a ‘Koort’ place, a heart place.

It isn’t hard to see that Sealin is right, throughout the time at the campsite, people told their own stories of visiting there in years past and how good it is to have the campsite back up and running.

Rev Hollis Wilson, former convener of the First Third Working Group, acknowledged the work of the Campsite Redevelopment Committee members and volunteers who contributed to the work of refurbishing the campsite.

Steve then expressed the value of having a Uniting Church Campsite. He explained that the Basis of Union, the foundational document of the Uniting Church in Australia, indicates that the church is a community of people with a long history of journeying and camping together going all the way back to Abraham.

He said that while the forefathers of the Christian faith journeyed together they built alters, or cairns, where they camped to acknowledge and honour God’s presence.

Each guest received a river stone on arrival at the campsite. Steve took his stone in his hand and said “This rock reminds us that God is with us and he has been with us on our journey.”

Steve then commissioned the campsite, declaring it open for the first time in four years.

Following the service, guests placed their stones into a basket. The stones will be made into a cairn and will remain at the campsite to remind us all that “God is with us”.

A light lunch was held after the service where many people shared their stories. Some took the opportunity to take a tour of the campsite or to visit the adjoining beach and admire beautiful Geographe Bay.

There was a great sense of joy that the Uniting Church Family Campsite is ready for visitors again.

Enquiries from schools, agencies and congregations regarding bookings from March 2017 should be directed to the Uniting Church Centre in Perth on (08) 9260 9800 or campsite@wa.uca.org.au.

Elaenor Nield

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