Thursday, October 16, 2008

... and so the Year of Firsts is complete

Today is the first anniversary of my father's death.

In some ways, the time seems to have flown by so
quickly, but in others it's dragged.

So today marks the end of the official "Year of Firsts" for Mum and me: the first birthdays, Christmas, anniversary, Fathers' Day etc without Dad. We have both been blessed to have a great deal of support from people who love us, and from each other, during this past year, and for that I'm very grateful.

Rest in peace Dad.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

for the geographically challenged

OK, so I've had a few comments from people who don't know where Myrtleford, Beechworth or Yackandandah are.

Hopefully this map should help. Basically, from Melbourne, one heads up the Hume Freeway towards Sydney until you hit Wangaratta, and then branch off either to Beechworth and Yackandandah, or Myrtleford.

(and if you don't branch off, and keep heading up the Hume, you will hit Albury about an hour after Wangaratta)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finally- it's all officially official!

Picture a rooftop... picture me shouting from said rooftop...

I am now - finally - able to spread far and wide the exciting news that I have just accepted a Call to a Ministry Intern placement in the linked congregations of
Myrtleford- Beechworth, commencing on 1st March 2009.

Myrtleford church

(As a ministry intern, I will effectively be THE minister for these congregations, although I won't be ordained until I complete the requirements of the intern phase, which will take about a year. As an intern, I will most likely be licenced by the Presbytery to preside at the sacraments of baptism and holy communion in the context of this placement, as well as being authorised to conduct weddings.)

This placement is in the Presbytery of North East Victoria, and it is doubly exciting, because two of my colleagues, Linley and Martin, have also accepted calls to Intern placements in the same Presbytery. (Linley and I have already worked out the halfway point between our two patches, where we can meet up for coffee; and have ideas in mind for "retail therapy" and "tourist" excursions around Beechworth and Bright for some of our days off... what? us? excited? :-)

My ministry will involve responsibility for three congregations (Myrtleford, Beechworth and Yackandandah) and a smaller preaching place (Stanley)- although I understand that there is a lay preacher who usually looks after worship at Stanley. These congregations are very typical of Uniting Church congregations (ie smallish and ageing), but I am very excited by how outward-looking they all are, and the level of involvement in the local communities they all have, and the amount of cooperative ecumenical work they do with other churches in the area (and I think they are excited that I'm excited :-).

And of course, the area is stunningly beautiful (almost as nice as Tasmania! Yes... you can take the girl out of Tassie, but... ;-).

Beechworth church

I will be living in Myrtleford, which is about half an hour from Wangaratta (the closest major regional centre) and an hour from Albury (the closest airport), and three hours drive from Melbourne (or 3 hours on the train from Wang to Melb).
Beechworth is a fairly major tourist town, very historical (the best preserved Gold Rush town in Vic).

The general area is part of the "High Country", very close to the Vic snow fields, smack in the middle of winery territory, and it seems to be "Festival Central" with the local region hosting the Beechworth Celtic Festival, Myrtleford Festival, Yackandandah Folk Festival (and of course, the Wangaratta Jazz Festival just up the road!) just to name a few, as well as some incredible looking venues for food and wine across the region (ranging from the award-winning Beechworth Bakery to outrageously expensive Fine Dining and everything in between). So it's lucky I will be living in a 4BR manse, as I anticipate (and encourage!) lots of visitors!

I have also discovered that a fellow ex-pat Taswegian, who I used to sing with in TUMS many years ago, is now a magistrate in the region, so I am looking forward to catching up with him when I move up there.

So, now you know- the secrecy is over, and you can understand why I have been so excited!

Yackandandah church
By the time I start there in early March, the placement will have been vacant for almost 2 years, so the good folk of Myrtleford, Beechworth and Yack are understandably excited as they look forward to finally getting a minister to call their own. So I think there will be a fair bit of mutual bouncing off walls with excitement in the early stages of my time there.

Mum will be coming down to Melbourne for the Theological College Valedictory celebrations in early November, and staying with me for a week, and during her stay we will travel up to Beechworth and spend a couple of days checking out the local area, so she can get a feel for where I'll be living and working. During this visit, the folk from the 3 congregations are planning to organise a "meet the new minister" social event so members of the congregations can put a face to the name whilst they're waiting for me to arrive and start work. It will be nice to get to meet some of the people before I move in.

If you are curious about the local area, you might want to check it out at:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First kiss of summer...

... by the sun, that is!

This weekend Brunswick UC had our annual church camp, which is always a great time for fellowship, (and some relaxation space to help get perspective on current workloads!).

Despite advice on the camp form to bring a sun hat etc, I didn't bother, as I wasn't expecting to be outdoors very much (and anyway, the weather has been a bit dim recently).

When I got home this afternoon, and looked at myself in the mirror for the first time, I noticed a happy glow of mild colour on my cheeks, decolletage and forearms (ie all the areas of skin that were exposed to the sun today as we spent part of our worship time outside).

So it looks like I'll have to remember to slip, slop, slap from now on if I'm going to go outside- summer is really coming! :-)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Vale, Abbot Placid

I received news this morning that Fr Placid Spearritt, Abbot of the Benedictine community of New Norcia WA, died suddenly on Saturday afternoon (UK time). Abbot Placid was visiting Ampleforth Abbey on his way home from some meetings in Italy, when he collapsed and died, after feeling unwell on Friday. He had just recently turned 75.

After meeting him on my first visit to New Norcia, I looked up to Abbot Placid as a wise monk, scholar and servant of God; and see his servant leadership as a role model that I hope to be able to emulate in my own ministry.

However, despite the shock and sadness at news of his death, I can't help but smile at the thought that Placid's death was consistent with his life: straight to the point, and no mucking about.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the community of New Norcia at this very sad and difficult time.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ordination! (no, not mine)

My good friend Avril was ordained as a Minister of the Word today at the Church of All Nations, Carlton.

It was a very inspiring service, as the very large congregation witnessed an account of the steps that Avril has taken to get to this point in her ministry; a cracking sermon by Robert Gribben which very adeptly encompassed the theology of ordination; and Avril's ordination vows with the climactic moment of ordination as the representatives of the Presbytery laid hands on her and prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower her ministry. The celebration was made complete as we shared the Eucharist together.

I'm sure that once she recovers, Avril will have lots to say about the occasion in her own blog :-)