A Special Memory of Betty Matthews

Kalamunda Uniting Church was recently privileged to hold the memorial service to celebrate the life of Rev. Betty Matthews – her own church, St Martin’s Forrestfield, being seen as too small to cope.

Indeed, the Kalamunda Church was packed! Those attending heard eulogies from her son, her grandchildren, her friends in the Deacon community, a representative from YWCA, and a wonderful speaker who had been a refugee from Africa. The Tongan community spoke lovingly of Betty and then sang, a cappella, a very moving song.  (There may have been other speakers as the Zoom recording I viewed a few days later was incomplete.)

We heard of Betty’s passionate involvement with an enormous range of pursuits such as refugee advocate, YWCA executive director, very efficient organiser of conferences of all sorts of groups and, above all, a deacon, a role she had over many decades.

Betty worked very much in tandem with her husband, Rev. Alan Matthews. Both were committed to seeking justice, building bridges, seeking the truth.

A phrase used during the service, summing up so much of Betty’s motivation in life was “seeking the transformation of our broken world”. In following in the footsteps of Christ, this was her aim.

I well remember Betty and Alan doing something most ministers of religion would avoid like the plague! They organised a political meeting in the lead-up to a Federal Election, probably 2010!

Organisational skills were very evident. All candidates were invited and all attended at a small Forrestfield venue. The public was invited to meet their candidates and ask questions.  There was standing room only. This event had the potential to be truly incendiary!

Those attending were encouraged to write on paper the questions they wanted to be answered. These were collected and while the eight candidates each gave a short, timed summary of their lives, the questions were sorted into themes.

Alan then read out the question and again each candidate gave a strictly timed answer. The mood was surprisingly respectful probably in deference to the elderly couple who were the organisers.

We went home pleased to have seen and heard from all our Hasluck candidates.

It was only later I thought, “How on earth did Betty and Alan Matthews pull that off so successfully”.

 It was just one of their efforts to seek truth, seek justice, build bridges and assist in the transformation of our broken world.

Well done, Betty. Alan, you can be proud of your joint achievements.

The link for the Zoom recording of Betty’s Memorial Service is available from Kalamunda Uniting Church.

Marcia Maher

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