Over the past few years, as minister at Bunbury St Augustine Uniting Church, we have welcomed more than 20 households from different parts of the world. They have found their spiritual home here, formed friendships, found work and social communities and added richly to both the church and city life of Bunbury.
We have also been the new home for people who have moved and become isolated because of relationship break downs within families, because they have been single by choice or are now isolated because of significant deaths.
In 2018, I discovered, more by accident than design, that many of these households have no other close relations or friendships in Australia, or on this side of Australia, with whom they can spend significant times of our social and Christian year – Easter, Christmas and birthdays etc.
So the Church Council here booked and agreed to quietly make it known that the Uniting Church Campsite in Busselton would be available for ten days from 23 December to 2 January for any of those folk to come and share low-key Christmas and New Year’s observances.
Over the ten days, seven households from Bunbury, Australind, Dalyellup, Perth and Wagin came to spend significant days and all are planning to return this Christmas New Year. All of those who came are telling us that this was the ‘best Christmas or New Year ever!’
They also tell us that as they share the positive experience they’ve had, the number attending this year will be at least doubled as they extend an invitation to others in the community whom they know are in a similar place.