New Church Day was celebrated on June 21st (closest Sunday) . Lay led by Randall Rabone and as usual attracted a larger than usual congregation who enjoyed the shared meal afterwards in the Church hall.
At the service on September 27th we will be remembering Joan Bowley, Joan and Bill were part of The Adelaide Society for many years and are very much missed.
Long time Church member Frank Hussey passed into the spiritual world recently after a short illness, Parkinsons disease was diagnosed and led quickly to complications. A funeral service was led by Rev. David Millar, our fondest condolences to Shirley and family.
We are compiling a folder that holds all the Pillars of The New Church, and these will be available for all to read at the Church (specially newcomers).
Our year to date has been a fairly quiet one. Our Sunday services have continued at the rate of two per month as has been the practice for some time now. Rev. Trevor Moffat usually conducts a service of worship on the first Sunday of each month and the third Sunday is covered by me if I’m available. Otherwise one or more of the ladies will officiate in my absence.
A weekend retreat was held in May at a very pleasant venue in Ravenswood, some eighty kilometres south of the city. Rev Todd Beiswenger was invited to lead us in our studies and worship. The theme was the Exodus story: specifically Moses’ struggles to free the children of Israel from Pharoah and the Egyptians and then their initial trials in the wilderness.
It was a very enjoyable weekend – worshipful, informative and relaxing – and appreciated by all who were able to attend. Our thanks go to Todd for his efforts in preparing a very interesting programme. It was pleasing to meet up with Todd’s wife Jen and their son Zach who were also able to attend.
The Moffats have decided that it’s time to relocate. The have sold their property in the country and have moved to a smaller, retirement dwelling in the suburbs. Hopefully we will be able to see more of them. Previously it had been a two hour journey to visit them. Now they are about forty minutes away so visits should be easier (provided the traffic doesn’t get any worse!) We all wish them well in their new surroundings.
Chad and Fleur Pisani have recently returned from their overseas holiday in Italy. Chad’s roots are in Malta and he was keen to see the land of his ancestors. They also attended a family wedding in the UK and generally caught up with relatives they had not met previously. From all reports, they had a great time, as would be expected. We are pleased to welcome them home again.
Our New Church Day celebrations were held in the function centre adjacent to the home of Lyn and Cliff Rocke. The venue was recently upgraded and was ideal for the occasion. The meal was self-catered and was appreciated and enjoyed by those who were able to attend. Sarah Ralls gave us a talk on her work with music instruction and movement for pre-school children and their mums, while Joy Moffat spoke about her quilting hobby and how she is able to tie it in with the message of the Writings. Thanks must go to these people and all who prepared food. Their efforts ensured a pleasant evening for us all.
Best wishes to all members and friends. Hopefully everyone is well and not succumbing to winter’s ailments.
It is now four months since our late beloved Minister, Rev. Christopher Skinner, passed into the spiritual world after losing his battle against liver cancer and as a relatively small group of worshippers, we continue to struggle with such a loss. It is now all too evident what a load Chris carried, not only in terms of his ministerial and pastoral work, but also in many administrative and other areas of Society life. The Committee is approaching the matters that need to be dealt with in an orderly and positive way.
The esteem in which Rev. Skinner was held was no more evident than at the afternoon Service of Thanksgiving for Chris’s life on 4th May 2015 with well over 200 present. Earlier in the day, a private cremation service was beautifully conducted by Rev. Ian Arnold. By the time Rev. Arnold welcomed everyone to the main service, the Church was filled to overflowing with people in the foyer and even outside the open double doors from the Church into the garden ~ thankfully it was a fine warm day. Those present included family and neighbours, Church members and friends, Swedenborg Group contacts, colleagues from Interstate, friends from organisations and groups with which Chris and his wife Margaret had been involved. Tributes to Chris were given by Margaret Skinner and daughters Suzanne and Tracey, plus messages were read from Chris’s brother Nick in England by Suzanne’s husband, Steve, and from lifelong friend Rev Bruce Jarvis, also from England, by Neville Jarvis. The service concluded with the singing and clapping of one of Chris’s favourite songs He’s got the whole world in his hands, Margaret, Suzanne and Tracey leading from the front of the Church with Helmut Lopaczuk on the accordion. The numbers present were well in excess of expectations causing a significant shortage of refreshments in the hall but no one was concerned about that. Everyone managed to have a cup of tea or coffee.
Services at Mt Waverley have continued on a weekly basis with Neville Jarvis and Karl Robinson mainly leading worship. In Ballarat, at the home of Len & Judy Robinson, the more informal, devotional services led by Judy Robinson are held on the last Sunday of each month. Rev. Julian Duckworth, of the Sydney Society of the New Church, was in Victoria at our invitation for the last weekend in June. His talk to the Swedenborg Group on the Friday night, various home visits on the Saturday, the Sunday morning service including the administration of the Holy Supper at Mt Waverley and the leading the afternoon service in Ballarat were all well received and appreciated. We were further delighted that Clifford Phanjoo from Mauritius, who with his wife Linda had two months in Melbourne visiting with their daughters, was able to conduct a morning service for us in July. Clifford is a New Church lay preacher in Mauritius, taking a leading role in periods when the two societies there are without ministerial service. The heavy rain that morning did not deter Clifford and his wonderful way of presenting his material was a joy to all there. Rather than paper, he conducted the service using his Tablet. We will make sure he has a few services ready for us when he next returns to Melbourne.
During August, the fortnightly Coffee and Chat plus Craft Thursday morning gathering run by Margaret Skinner closed. The Society is very grateful to Margaret and daughter Suzanne for having taken a leading role in these sessions over many years.
Winter in Melbourne has been unusually ‘icy’ and lacking in sunshine. A number of members and friends have suffered from bad coughs and colds. Some others have had short stays in hospital for procedures and exploratory tests. With Spring round the corner, we look forward to warmer days and more healthy times.
We send our greetings to all other New Church Societies and Groups in Australia and New Zealand.
In late June, our Saturday Angel Service held a Winter Solstice dinner after the service, with a good number present. We have done this several times before, and it involves bringing warm even spicy casserole and curries to share.
We have started two Swedenborg reading groups, each one going for one hour. Those who come use a set of passages from a Swedenborg Foundation book, each reading a paragraph around aloud, and then we stop and look at what has come up for us. It’s actually better if nobody reads anything in advance but comes fresh to it.
A Sunday afternoon party was held for Roy Simmonds turning 90, and a lovely piano recital was given on another Sunday after church by Lillian King. One of our church members who lives locally, Cynthia Marcroft, passed into the spiritual world recently. She was 97.
We are working on the arrangements for the Vision Valley Camp in January 2016, and slowly moving forward looking at future arrangements following the eventual retirement of our minister in mid-2018.
Sydney has been badly hit with an enduring virus, but we know it has affected others in Australia. We send our greetings and good wishes to you all.
BRISBANE AND SOUTH EAST QUEENSLAND
As mentioned in the previous New Age we are now conducting our services from the Trinity College Chapel. The Chapel is very comfortable and we can still have our family service lunch out on the covered deck just outside. It’s almost like home but not quite and our search for our own premises continues.
One of our young adults, 14 year old Alexis Evans will be venturing out with her class to a rural farmland called Ironbark where she will be staying for five weeks. They will not be allowed any form of technology and the only contact with family and friends will be by letter. During the camp Alexis and the class will undertake a 3-day hike as well as individually be required to spend 24 hours alone with limited supplies and the Bible. The camp is without electricity hence the need for them to boil their own hot water and make their own light.
The Rev. Darren Brunne has commenced a new reading group on the north side of Brisbane on Wednesday evenings commencing at 6pm.
Our congratulations and best wishes to Mrs Lynn Williams who will celebrate her 90th birthday on the 19th October.
It is with sadness that we were advised of the passing of the Rev. Chris Hasler. Chris was the Brisbane Society’s first Minister after moving to the Agars Street Church over 50 years ago. The Society extends our condolences to his wife Joy and family.
At the time of writing the New Christian Church in New Zealand is busy with preparations for our Jubilee Reunion on 19th-20th of September. This kind of celebration affords a time to look back at the past life and work of the church. The time span commemorates the years since the building of the church and the fifty years since the congregation joined together to raise the church. This was long before some of us became members of Ballarat Street.
The Rev Richard Keyworth and the Rev John Sutton often share memories of events and people. Doreen Akrigg always refers to “our lovely little church” and the Keal families also have long association with and fond recollections of 5 Ballarat Street. These buildings have been a place for Sunday worship, a place for couples to be married, for families to remember and mark the passing of those who have entered spiritual world, and a place for the children to attend Sunday School. This church has also been a tangible presence and reminder to the local community that there is a place nearby where they too can come to learn about and share in the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Preparing for the Jubilee has also brought into focus the need to look forward. Like many churches the continuing upkeep of the property has required the church committee to think seriously about whether the time has come to say farewell to this site and these buildings. There are some who are attached to what has been their church and spiritual home for all of the fifty years that it has stood and some who think that it is now time to step out and take a different approach. Whatever happens there will be members of the congregation who may be disappointed. Our recent newsletter provided us with two assurances that the Lord is not dependant on a physical building for his Presence to be felt or His Work to be done. The first is from 1 Kings: 8: 27- where Solomon talks about the inability of heaven and heaven’s heaven as an abode. The second from the Arcana reminds us that the Lord’s Church is not in any particular place…but where people’s lives are led and kept by the commandments of charity. Our building may be in need of repair but we are blessed by a congregation that remains committed to leading lives that honour these commandments.
Our Jubilee, the Rev Richard Keyworth’s report about his recent time with ministers at Bryn Athyn, the NCIA Assembly in Canberra next year have all helped to remind us here at 5 Ballarat Street, that the practice of looking back and planning forward is and always will be part of the life of our little church and congregation. We are certainly now more lively as a congregation now that Tammy Rush (nee Keal) her husband Anthony and their two children are attending. Sharon now has five regular children in the Sunday School.
Photos by courtesy of Lesley Longstaff and John and Jenny Sutton