Lessons from Bourke

My wife and I were lucky enough to travel through Bourke in western New South Wales on a trip through central Australia to visit our son’s family in Melbourne.

I have been involved with the Mowanjum Aboriginal community for over ten years as a member of the Boab Network, which grew out of All Saint’s Floreat Uniting Church. Through the network, we have become very familiar with the issues that confront Aboriginal people in the Mowanjum community and the nearby town of Derby. Continue Reading

Larapinta Trail reflections

In early September 2018, I walked the Larapinta trail. The Larapinta is a bushwalk starting just out of Alice Springs and traverses the West Macdonnell ranges, ending 230km later at Mount Sonder.

I have enjoyed bushwalking for a while, but what drew me to this place was a question we were asked in church the year before: How do you see and experience God? Continue Reading

Going home: a bittersweet journey

In October last year, we travelled to England for a holiday. This visit was primarily to visit our daughter Alison and family, but as usual when we visit England we caught up with various members of both of our families and some friends, as we both grew up there. Upon reflection, this visit was a mixture of both good and sad experiences.

On the way to England we met with Floss’ cousin and her husband in Amsterdam. Both couples celebrated Golden Weddings in 2018 and we had our own special time of celebration together. They travelled to Holland in their car and so we had a new experience of travelling overnight on a ferry – the nearest we have had to a cruise! We docked in Newcastle-upon- Tyne which is where our daughter, Alison, lives.

For Floss, the trip up the north east coast was special, being the part of England where she was born and lived for her first 42 years. Watching familiar landmarks from the sea was an exciting experience and brought some tears. Continue Reading

Working with our sisters and brothers in Bali

When you’re going to Bali, it’s rather cool to be able to say you are going “on work!” Especially when talking to other West Australians going there for the usual reasons.

Rev Marie Wilson and I were able to say this as we fronted up to the Jetstar flight out of Perth on a recent Saturday night. We had a job to do! Our task was to introduce some of the senior clergy of the Balinese Protestant Church (Gereja Kiristen Protestan di Bali – GKPB) to the discipline of professional supervision.

We soon discovered they knew a lot about ‘supervision’, but that what they knew was more about top-down management than professional supervision, and anyone who has experienced that kind of top-down management tends to steer clear of supervision. It’s a common misunderstanding, even among our enlightened Uniting Church ministers.Continue Reading

Kokoda mateship: an enduring tenet

At midnight on Thursday 26 July this year, seven Scotch boys and two staff flew out from Perth enroute to Papua New Guinea to embark on the world-famous Kokoda trail.

All the months of preparation were over, there was no chance to fill in the gaps, and in reality, most of us had very little understanding of the challenges that lay ahead. Seven days later, we walked through the trail’s finishing arch in the town of Kokoda. The physical and emotional challenges faced throughout the seven days of trekking had left an indelible and lifelong imprint on the  spiritual psyche of us all. Continue Reading

Suffering, scenery and the sacred

For two weeks in May I had the marvellous privilege of exploring a fascinating and beautiful country, rich in history and struggle, a place almost undiscovered by tourists: Armenia.  When I told people I was off to Armenia on a self-funded trip most people looked puzzled and said, “Where exactly is Armenia?”

Armenia is in the South Caucasus region, sharing borders with Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. The capitol is Yerevan, a city of over a million people, with the awesome snow peaked mountains of Mt Ararat dominating the skyline. The mountain forms an impressive background to Armenia’s ancient past. Continue Reading

A mandarin is not a failed orange

What do Katanning WA and Lincoln NZ have in common?

During April, both hosted gatherings of people passionate about ministry in rural settings. One over-arching message is: small and rural matters!

Setting the scene for the 100 delegates in Lincoln for the International Rural Churches Association (IRCA), Dr Rosemary Dewerse told us the story of Parihaka. This Maori village was being claimed  by colonisers. In 1881, as armed cavalry rode in they were met first by children sitting in the road singing, then teenage girls skipping and then gifts of food. Eventually two Maori chiefs, Te Whiti and Tohu, along with many others, were imprisoned, but their commitment to nonviolent resistance did not waver.

Te Whiti’s conviction was that taking up arms would lead to more deaths, so instead they persistently pulled up surveyors’ marker pegs, built their own fences and ploughed up the settlers’ roads. Continue Reading