Unearthing gold and God in the west

A recent advertisement in a church newsletter for free accommodation in return for providing Sunday services sparked an adventure from Queensland to regional WA. Ruth Duncan reflects on her experiences moving westward and how she struck gold in the faith community.

A small advertisement in a newsletter from the Uniting Church Queensland late last year popped up the day after hearing my last lecture in New Testament within the Lay Preacher’s course at Trinity College Queensland. The ad offered free accommodation in Kalgoorlie in return for providing Sunday services. What a great opportunity to see a different part of Australia and practise  what I’d been learning over the course.

Among the jaw-dropping from my local congregation members, they managed to ask questions like, “Where will you stay?” and “What is the congregation like?”

To these questions and more, including those that were in my mind, I had to say, “I don’t know.” I just heard the voice of God saying, “Come and see.”

Fast forward two-and-half months and the warmth of the welcome at the airport, the well-appointed manse, my first service, taking responsibility for liturgy and sermons are all strong memories. The leaders have been generous in accepting my husband and me as strangers into their midst. There have been significant, appreciated responses from this congregation as well.

Kalgoorlie Boulder has its long stay residents, but the acceptance of a transient like me into its midst is real and heart-warming. We could have quite happily stayed. Yes, we have a home, children  and grandchildren in Queensland and, of course, a church family who were looking forward to our return. And yes, we went home after my last service in late March.

They said they would let our  tyres down so we couldn’t leave. But Ipswich City Uniting Church said it had attached a bungy cord to the car. In March, we drove almost 4 000 kilometres across the Nullarbor, through South Australia and New South Wales to home and life at Ipswich again. We have been changed; we can’t help it. But what an enriching experience.

I joked about finding a big enough gold nugget to pay for the heritage listed maintenance issues of Ipswich City Uniting Church. Well, I found gold: gold in the hearts of dedicated Christians in the Kalgoorlie Boulder Uniting Church. Gold in their friendship. Gold in their worship of our God, more precious than anything found in the ground.

Who will come and find more gold?

This article originally appeared in Journey, the publication of the Uniting Church Queensland.

Top image: Ruth Duncan discovers a monster gold nugget at Natural Gold Nuggets of Kalgoorlie.

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