BJays Report 2015
This is our very first report for BJays – we’ve been going nearly a year. Over this time we’ve had some wonderful experiences as we chat over wraps and coffee.
In the latter part of the year we trialled having BJays at the Hub in Mt Druitt – a wonderful experience meeting new people and having a fully equipped kitchen. After much thought, prayer and discussion we have decided however to keep BJays at “home” in Cranebrook. In doing so we can better focus on the needs of the community that is geographically close to the Open Door.
We’ve really appreciated the time, skills, input and presence of Anne and Julie over the year. Many thanks to you both. And of course to Sue, for being faithful to our mission of promoting Christ’s peace and love within our community.
With our constant vision of having a 7 day a week church, we hope to build more of a connection with the community around us; and with the spirit of invitation, be open to sharing Christ’s love and peace with others in a relaxed environment.
Over the next year we hope to tie BJays in with the Community Garden and perhaps our Sunday night worship time. And of course, this involves offering good coffee! Thanks to Alex and Steph, we now have a “proper” coffee machine that makes really good coffee.
It’s also been wonderful having people there to help set up and pack away. As we move into our second year, I would like to see all of us at BJays volunteer more to help in whatever way we can – whether it’s making coffee, helping with serving meals or whatever may come up. We need lots of help – and with our wonderful Open Door people working together, we can really help to make a difference in the world around us.
I often talk about yin and yang and how the good the bad and the ugly often go hand in hand. Without a doubt, this has been the most difficult of all the years that I have been pastor. Stresses and challenges have been ongoing. It’s been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, and, at times, school teaching seemed like a holiday! But when I look back over the past twelve months, I am filled with much joy at the amazing ways God is leading us, the Open Door congregation, to grow into a tree that bears much fruit. I am humbly aware of my shortcomings in this role at times and am so grateful for the support, direction and leadership of my two counsellors, Bill Gillard and Helen Taylor. I am also filled with joy to see our new priesthood growing in confidence as they step into new roles and responsibilities in our congregation. But most of all I see you, our congregation, being the hands and feet of Jesus for each other, and those around you. And I realise that it is not the visible, noticeable jobs, but the behind the scenes, unenviable tasks that are quietly taken care of, that give me most joy. Giving the toilets a clean, helping someone carry stuff in from the car, taking out the rubbish bin, picking someone up for church. In each small task, I see the spirit of Christ in action, in you, for which I am truly grateful.
Our average weekly Sunday night attendance for the year is 22. Wouldn’t it be great to see this rise to 30 by the end of 2016? People loving being together with God and each other! Yahoo! When we stop to consider all the other things that have been going on, however, we see that we are actually being the church more than just Sunday evening. We are becoming a seven day a week church!
In February of this year BJays café began under the leadership of Trish Sammut. Meeting every Wednesday for two hours, this new ministry has averaged around ten people in attendance each week. Thank you to Julie Bradley and Anne Bonnefin for working with Trish in this first year of BJays.
Another new initiative that began this year is the ‘Youth is Knocking’ youth group. We have welcomed Jamie and Leanne Powell who, with Liam Baird and Stephen Elliott, have become trained youth leaders for the formation of a rainbow youth group. We look forward to seeing this group grow in the coming year.
The Western Sydney Transgender support Group under the leadership of Stephanie Purdy, Alex Foster, Robyn Beasy and Rachel, as well as the Coming Out Group, coordinated by Liz Rayner, have continued to meet monthly, providing support to our LGBTIQ community.
The congregation has benefited from twice monthly bible studies and care and share groups, capably led by Rob Millington and Trish Sammut.
Other important events this year included participation at Fairday and the Mardigras Parade. Close to thirty people marched with the Open Door in the parade this year under our wonderful ‘Love is Love’ banner. And more than twenty volunteers assisted in running our stall at Fairday in February.
Our IDAHOTB event this year was quite memorable as we combined the planning with other Western Sydney LGBT groups. More than 200 people attended the picnic on May 17 at Regatta Park, Penrith, with local performers presenting music and entertainment, to ‘Shine the Light’ on homophobia and transphobia.
Marriage Equality lobbying and workshops were a part of our calendar this year, under the leadership of Wayne Chilver. Some of our congregation met and spoke with local member Fiona Scott, and collected signatures to present to her. On August 30th Fiona Scott was our guest at our Family Night, and God’s presence was strong as we combined religion, politics and marriage equality into a worshipful time together.
The formation of the Care team this month is also a highlight for our congregation. Seventeen people have volunteered to be care bears and attended our workshop a couple of weeks ago to be part of this pastoral care ministry.
We have had so many wonderful moments together this year, that when I look back, the difficult moments start to fade. God is blessing us, helping us, and directing us to make a difference!
I happened to open up my Pastor’s report from 2004, back when we were about ten in number, and saw back then that I had written,
What is next? You may well ask. I believe that God has work for us to do. God has empowered us to create and solidify this community for a purpose. It is up to us to be ready to be who God wants us to be and to have that door open for who God next sends our way. Let’s be prayerfully open to where the Spirit is leading us in the next twelve months. I believe God has a work for us to do. And I hope and pray that we each are ready to say “Here am I Lord, send me.”
When I think about ‘what is next?’ for 2016, I see how truly how God has been growing us over the past decade. I see God’s transforming power at work in each of you. I see how you respond to the gentle promptings of the good Spirit and find new ways to show Love for one another and the world around you. We are about the mission that matters most, the mission of Jesus Christ. May Christ’s mission bring you added joy in the year ahead. What a privilege it is to be sharing this joyful journey with each of you!
Thanks be to God!
Youth Leader Report - 2015
It has been a very interesting year for the youth group - Youth Is Knocking.
We have had many highs and a few challenges, all have led to a really good starting year.
We have started the year by hitting the ground running. We hit the schools in the local area to promote the group, with the help of the fliers provided by Anne. We didn't get a lot of response from this venture, but it was a great way of promoting for both YIK and Open Door.
Most of our YIK nights have been very fun. On the nights that we do have youth in attendance, we provide a nice meal, fun games and end the night with a peace candle. We did have one really good night up at Sue's house, where we had a potentially questionable barbecue, a lot of laughs, falling off chairs and a good chat.
On the nights we didn't have youth, we took the opportunity to bond as a team and build our skills to better serve our youth.
Our biggest challenge was lack of youth, which we hope to improve, one strategy is to create partnerships with agencies, schools and other youth programs.
Next year will be much bigger than this year, with many events in the pipeline, and hopefully much more youth, laughter and fun.
2015 HAS BEEN A BIG YEAR FOR THE WSTSG (WESTERN SYDNEY TRANSGENDER SUPPORT GROUP) IT MAY HAVE STARTED SLOW BUT WHEN SUE MADE A CLOSED SUPPORT GROUP WITH THE PAGE ON FACEBOOK WE NOW HAVE 144 MEMBERS AND 10 TO 15 COMING TO MONTHLY GROUP MEETINGS ON THE SATURDAY NIGHT.
THIS YEAR HAS BEEN GREAT STEPH WENT WITH ALEX TO THE FTM GROUP AT THE GENDER CENTRE AND MEET SOME OTHER GUYS FROM THERE THAT LIVE OUT WEST SO THEY JOINED THE GROUP MAKING IT MORE MIXED. WE’VE HAD A FEW BIRTHDAY DINNERS AS WELL.
WE’VE ALSO HAD A FEW INQUIRES FROM OTHER ORGANISATIONS WANTING HELP AND ASSISTANCE WITH TRANS YOUTH SO STEPH AND ALEX HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THEM TO HELP THE YOUNG ONES AND THEIR FAMILIES, WE HAVE ALSO BEEN ADVOCATING WITH GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS THROUGH EMAILS TO ASSIST MEMBERS IN CHANGING THEIR DETAILS.
IN AUGUST WE MET WITH THE MT DRUITT LAC NSW POLICE GLLO OFFICER AND HAD THEM COME ALONG AS A GUEST SPEAKER FOR ONE OF THE MEETINGS. THIS WAS VERY WELL RECEIVED AND WE ARE LOOKING AT GETTING OTHER GUEST SPEAKERS IN THE FUTURE.
SOME OF THE MEMBERS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN HAVING MONTHLY/BIMONTHLY SOCIAL GET TOGETHERS THE FIRST ONE WAS ON THE 7TH OF NOVEMBER A FEW WENT WAS A RELAXED CHAT WITH FRIENDS, WE WILL BE LOOKING AT FUN ACTIVITIES TO DO LIKE AQUA GOLF, FISHING DAYS, POOL, PUB NIGHTS, DINNERS WHATEVER THEY FEEL LIKE ORGANISING.
ON THE 21ST NOVEMBER WAS THE TDoR WE HAD A SERVICE TO REMEMBER THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN MURDERED FOR JUST BEING TRANSGENDER, STEPH MADE A BELL THAT WE RUNG FOR EACH NAME THAT WAS READ OUT AND ALEX DID A PRAYER, 4 MEMBERS OF THE GROUP RANG THE BELL.
OUR HOPES FOR 2016 WOULD BE TO HAVE MORE ATTENDING, LOOKING AT A GRANT TO PURCHASE SOME EQUIPMENT FOR PRINTING DOCUMENTS AND FORMS FOR UPDATING MEMBERS DETAILS WITH GOVERNMENT DEPT’S AS STEPHANIE IS NOW A JP.
WE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO GET SOME EQUIPMENT THAT THOSE TRANSITIONING NEED TO USE AS THEY TRANSITION EG THE MAN BITS/BINDERS AND THE WOMENS BITS/BREAST FORMS, WERE ALSO HOPING FOR AN OFFICE AREA TO HELP THOSE IN NEED FULL-TIME.
AND PLAN MORE GROUP ACTIVITIES FOR MEMBERS AND THEIR PARTNERS AND FAMILIES…….
Alex Foster for the WSTSG
Trish Sammut is an elder at the Open Door Community of Christ and coordinates BJ's cafe.
Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-6, John 3:1-17, D&C 164:9
Be still and know that I am God.
These beautiful scriptures all describe our journey towards what God is calling us for.
How can I know what direction I’m going in if I don’t listen – to God, my instincts and my fellow brothers and sisters? I must take time to be with God – quiet moments when I can connect with God and myself, and take time to listen to each other. We often pray for direction and help, but then we often don’t stop to listen to the spirit in response.
Part of the reason for this is that there is often lots of noise, not only around us, but inside – in our head…. Noise is stressful!!
I’d encourage each of us to take time to stop and reflect …. Quieten the noise. I know when I haven’t taken enough time out – I become stressed and can’t see things clearly. It can be difficult in our busy lives, but it’s to our detriment – both psychologically and spiritually – if we don’t. We must take time out before we’re forced to.
We can take time while we’re doing the relatively mundane things in life – I often think and pray when I iron early in the morning before everyone else gets up. And when I’m in the car alone I turn the radio off so I can be in quiet. So we can often fit some quiet time in – we just need to be mindful of doing it.
And take time to absorb the scriptures – we had a great time on Tuesday night looking at these same scriptures. It’s a wonderful thing to be in a group that is so diverse, with different viewpoints, and being ok with that. We can learn so much from each other.
The sacraments of the church are another way we can connect to God in a special way – in sacred community.
And when we connect to our outer world, and see it through God’s eyes …….. in the midst of the beauty of creation, we see brokenness, pain and suffering; and in response we say “Here I am, Send me”.
I don’t need to be perfect – we are all called. Yet it’s the nature of things that I can’t give of myself if I don’t know who I am giving away. I can’t give of myself if I don’t know who that ‘self’ is. It can be painful to let go of our old way of thinking, or reacting, especially to a perceived threat, but take heart – be courageous, because we can’t and shouldn’t try to be someone we’re not. And we never stop learning and growing – growing is cyclic …… I remember the first time I became aware that I over-reacted to some things (and became somewhat irrational) - I booked in to see a counsellor …. I had 6 issues I wanted to look at, so I figured it would take 6 weeks to work through. Here I am 30 years later and still at times confronted with some of my old ways of thinking and reacting.
However, as we become more authentic, we reflect those things that set us apart from most of the wider world - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - in increasing measures.
The miraculous happens when we take time to connect to the God who is Love and has the ability to transform us. I think of the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene – just two of the women who stopped and spent time with Jesus – they saw God in him and their lives were transformed. And the other disciples spent so much time with Jesus, and wanted to share that new reality with the lost and broken. This too is our journey – what we are called for – Christ’s mission is our mission.
In closing I’d like to read a poem that was written back in 1974, based on one of Jack Spong’s sermons:
Look at him!
Look not at his divinity,
But look, rather, at his freedom.
Look not at the exaggerated tales of his power,
But look, rather, at his infinite capacity to give himself away.
Look not at the first-century mythology that surrounds him,
But look, rather, at his courage to be, his ability to live, and his ability to love,
And the contagious quality of his love.
Stop your frantic search!
Be still and know that this is God:
And when you are accepted, accept yourself;
When you are forgiven, forgive yourself;
When you are loved, love yourself.
Grasp that Christpower
And dare to be yourself!
And may God’s peace be with us all.
Elder Trish Sammut
presented at the Open Door Sunday May 3st, 2015
TOGETHER AT GOD’S TABLE by Pastor Sue Palmer
'Pass the potatoes please!' Family meals are often the place where we have learned table etiquette. Chewing with your mouth closed. Offering someone else the last piece before taking it yourself. Remembering to compliment the cook. Good table manners help us show gratitude and consideration of those who matter most to us.
At church we talk about making room at the table for everyone. The idea of our congregation sitting at a big dinner table is great allegory since we all know how much we love to eat together. But The 'table' idea of course is not just about meal times. The ‘table’ is a symbol for how we interact with each other in all of our activities, worship and relationships, as a congregation. When we gather with Christ ‘at the table’ we become a part of His story and we become a part of the story of one another.
Sometimes there can be discomfort at the table. It is a reality that being together at God’s table can at times mean rubbing shoulders with people who you may disagree with, who you don’t understand, who may not understand you, or who you may not even like much. Diversity does have its challenges!
God does help us, however, to not only become one body, but to then go out and change the world together. The mystical happens when you honor your place at God’s table. Love with a capital L envelops us and connects us as brothers and sisters. The differences are still there but God’s Loving Holy Spirit empowers us in a way that we truly are woven together into loving community. We find that our diversity actually becomes our strength. The chefs, the waiters, the washer upper-ers, we all have our gifts that benefit the body!
I invite you to come to the table and find your place and sit together in faithful and enduring commitment not only to your God who has called you here, but to each other, and to the mission of Jesus Christ, the mission that matters most.
So what do good table manners look like? The best place to begin I think is with:
PUTTING OTHERS FIRST - the Good Samaritan Effect: Your brothers and sisters will feel valued!
Bringing blessing through the power of our words as well as our deeds: It is good to consider how we can bring comfort, upliftment, encouragement and strength to those at our table, just by thinking about the power of what we say. And when our words are accompanied by positive non-verbal cues and body language, we are on the path to creating joyful people around us!
Sometimes our words may cause pain. Even if we are not intentionally trying to hurt anyone, misunderstandings and conflicts can arise. It is sometimes difficult to stop in the heat of discussions, arguments or topics we feel passionate about to reflect on what we are about to say. But pre-conflict reflection – as opposed to post-conflict reflection, is a wonderful way to avoid the bush fire from starting in the first place.
o Are my words going to hurt my sister or brother?
o Am I speaking from a place of anger or pain? If so, does this justify me then to hurt someone else?
o Would it be better to communicate in a less threatening way
When our words are accompanied by positive uplifting actions, it’s a double whammy of joy that we are bringing to those around us.
Care, and Show you care
o Compliment someone (truthfully)
o Ask if anyone would like a cuppa, and make it for them!
o Offer to give someone a lift
o Call someone to just say hi and to see how they’re doing
o Let someone else have the best seat at the restaurant
o Let someone tell their story without interrupting them
o Invite someone for dinner
Be the difference to someone this week!
In the New Testament the laying on of hands was associated with the receiving of the Holy Spirit (See Acts 8:14-19). Initially the Apostles laid hands on new believers as well as believers. (See Acts 6:5-6).
LAYING ON OF HANDS FOR THE SICK (ADMINISTRATION) "For us, no sacrament is more closely bound to the human condition and God’s yearning to meet us in the tangle of life. Administration is the sacrament of emergency rooms, hospital rooms, and living rooms; of camps, reunions, and retreats; of pastors’ studies, inner-city streets, and even prisons; of bad news from the doctor, of phone calls at 2 a.m., and of life’s final moments."This rite has become for us the sacrament of desperate choices, of unexpected turns, of broken hearts and dreams, of endings and beginnings, of spiritual deserts, of renewed vision. With the warm flesh of human hands, this sacrament clothes that most breathtaking of all promises: that nothing--not even suffering and death—shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8:38–39)."
- Tony Chvala-Smith, Community of Christ Theologian
Any person who is sick or faces spiritual or emotional challenges may ask for a special prayer of blessing, regardless of church membership.
During this sacrament, ministers of the church anoint the head of the person with consecrated oil, which symbolizes the love of God. The ministers then lay their hands upon the head of the person and approach God in prayer for the blessing and healing ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The purpose is to provide assurance of God’s care and concern and also of the community's special interest in that person.
If you are in need of the laying on of hands, or would like more information, please contact Helen at Community of Christ (02) 98717400 or call Pastor Sue Palmer on 0411330212
What is Baptism?
What does baptism mean and why is it so fabulous?
Why get baptised?
remarks given at Shelly's baptism by Pastor Sue Palmer
There are many varied, personal reasons that can lead a person to the decision for baptism. Here are some that I have encountered as a pastor to people who have been preparing themselves to enter the water:
Yes, but what is baptism?
Well let's start with this scripture from Matthew:
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea - for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Mat 4:18-22
It begins with this call to you from Jesus - ' Follow Me'
Jesus, Love in the flesh, calls you to leave your net. This is a very radical thing! Peter and Andrew were throwing their nets into the sea. James and John were mending their nets. All of these men were absorbed, focused on the task in hand. And indeed, their task was a noble one, their livelihood, providing for their families. This was what they knew. They had grown up with nets and boats and fish. They knew their work, they were at home on the sea. It was familiar, and it was where they belonged. And from this very life that they knew so well, this familiar family trade that was born and bred in them, Jesus called.
Fishing wasn’t some pleasantry or leisure activity that Jesus called them from. Peter and Andrew weren't sitting around with their feet up. They weren't watching the cricket. James and John weren't at the movies, or having an afternoon nap. Jesus called them in the MIDDLE of their work! Jesus didn't say, 'hey boys! You're not doing anything - why not follow me..?' It wasn't 'hey you guys, you bored? You want some purpose in your life? You want some action? Follow me, and I'll give you something to live for..' No, Jesus was calling them in the MIDDLE of something that was their life!
Jesus was calling them not to stop being fishermen, not to change their occupation. Jesus was calling them to change their FOCUS. No longer would fish be their focus.. Fish would still be important, their livelihood, but something changed. It would no longer be for the fish that these men would be striving. Fishing would become no longer the reason to get out of bed each day. By responding to Jesus, these disciples shifted their priority from simply providing for themselves, to bringing the bread of life to others. From self-focus and self-absorption comes a new way of living. Jesus calls us to live differently.
The disciples seemed to instantly drop their nets in response. What was it about the Christ that drew them to Him? Perhaps they had already met him, heard about him, had dinner with him? All we know is that their encounter with Jesus changed them. They immediately left what they were doing and followed. What a gob-smackingly powerful act of faith! No loitering, putting Jesus on hold.. No waiting till the repairing of the net was finished, or the catch of fish was completed. These disciples left what they were doing and straight away followed.
All of the choices that the disciples had made in their lives led to this moment. They were ready to respond.
We daily make a choice to follow Jesus. To lay down our nets and the things that are important to us, in order to be able to love others - for in doing so there is a far greater joy. Perhaps the disciples caught a glimpse of this joy - or perhaps they acted on their trust in Jesus, that if, by following Him, they would find more than just fish.
What is it that prevents us from doing the same?
Baptism declares your partnership with God. Baptism is a sacrament that validates how God has led you, helped you, directed you, and loved you. And through baptism you have a chance to acknowledge God's presence and love in your life. As you permit yourself to be lowered under the water, you are acknowledging you live not by yourself or for yourself, but in partnership with God. This public declaration to family and friends is that you and Jesus journey together. The 'washing away' of self-centeredness, is a symbol of how your new life in partnership with Christ calls you to love not just yourself, but all people everywhere.
Don't worry, you will still be a fisherman But now you don't just fish for fish.
Liz Rayner 8.2.15 at the Open Door Community of Christ
Read Mark 1: 29-39
The part of this passage that I really connect with is paragraph 30-31, where Jesus heals Simon's Mother-in-law and she starts to serve as a hostess.
Before I explain further, I just need to name Simon's Mother-in-law, Perhaps the authors of Mark saw that nothing was added to this story by giving a name to Simon's Mother-in-law but for our purposes, she is worthy of a name. In fact after a quick search on Wikipedia I chose the most popular female name in New South Wales last year, Isabella. Naturally, I chose the most popular name in New South Wales because as we all know in ancient Galilee there were quite a few Australian migrants. (Historians have reported finding thongs amongst ancient sandals.)
So Isabella was saved from the brink of death, (remembering a fever in Jesus' time was often fatal) she is now whole, she has been returned to herself, she has been pulled back from the brink,.......How amazing! How wonderful! all the possibilities that now lay before her! and Isabella's first thought is…. “ok all better so I will pop off and make a cuppa and some lamingtons for all these blokes in my house.”
Yes cuppa making and welcoming guests was a women's role Jesus time but we diminish Isabella by not recognising the importance in her decision to serve, to welcome all comers, all the locals to her home. In getting the cuppa's she facilitated an opportunity for others to encounter the living Christ. In essence, Isabella used her newly healed self, the self, returned from the brink of death to facilitate a community, a community connected in Christ. In her humble act of service we see Christ's love and healing message being shared.
Isabella experienced/lived the wholeness of Christ and understood with wholeness comes a passion and responsibility to share the healing that Jesus Christ offers to every human being, where ever they're at. I know this because God has healed me, I have come back from the brink, not just the brink of death but from the brink of bad life choices, I have been pulled back from the brink on more than one occasion and no doubt like all of us I will have many more “brinks” in my future.
I know I am healed by the grace of God and sharing this life changing news with others is what it's all about! I know the healing power of Christ and like Isabella I want to create communities in Christ to share God’s grace and healing. I feel that's what happens at Open Door, not just when we gather here on a Sunday night but whenever we interact, we are in community and its my hope, indeed my prayer, that as each of us goes about our daily lives we take time to intentionally grow community whatever that may look like or where ever that may take us.
Start this week by being intentional in looking for the opportunity to share Christ’s love and healing and create those communities of joy, hope, love and peace that we are all about!
Pastor’s Report 2014
How blessed we are! Look at how God has been calling us, shaping us and directing us over the past twelve months! In our worship, our study, the walking, the talking, the eating, the visiting, the praying, in all the doing, and in all the being, God has graced us with His loving presence. Do you feel it? An excitement. An expectancy. I know I have sensed this in our highs and yes, even in our lows. God is weaving us together for His mission, the mission that matters most!
I would like to thank my two counsellors, Bill and Helen, for their deep passion to serve Christ, borne out by their love for each one us in their ministry of presence, wisdom, discernment of the spirit, and devotion to prayer for myself and our congregation. I have felt the blessing of God from these prayers on a number of occasions.
This year we have also been blessed with the new friendships of Ange, Brad, Ann, Matt P, Shelly and Dave and we have welcomed Lauren and Annette who committed their lives to Christ and our church in baptism and confirmation.
This year saw our very first Open Door ordinations. After several months of priesthood study and training, Rob, Matt, Trish, Lesley and Liz were ordained on April 6th. I have been filled with joy to see each of our new ministers begin to serve in their new callings this year. The congregation has been enriched by the presence of God’s spirit and the ministry of angels as each of these five have faithfully stepped up to serve.
Outreach and community events this year have included being a part of ‘Fairday’ for Mardigras, as well as ‘O’ week at the UWS in Kingswood with Open Door stalls. We also held a special IDAHOT event in May with guest speaker Reverend Rob Bowers from Gosford Anglican church.
The Care n Share and Bible study groups have met once a month, capably led by Rob and Trish. These two groups have provided focus on study and prayer as well as sharing time outside of a Sunday evening. The Water and Spirit class has also been held regularly on Sunday afternoons. This class has given opportunity for those attending to discuss a range of topics associated with what it means to be a Christian and to be part of Community of Christ.
Other highlights this year have included our Anniversary Dinner in July with Bambam Woopie and the Get Nuns. And our trivia night in October raised over $1000 for the congregation. Special guests for Family Night in August and Community Night in September have included Cynthia Burdon-Carr and Brad McCarthy. The Music n Munchies Sundays began in August, bringing extra fun to worship. We also enjoyed a visit from Evangelist Helen McIlroy in April and Apostle Susan Oxley in June, visiting in homes and attending our activities. Our road trip to Newcastle in September for worship and lunch with the Wallsend congregation, was another highlight. And The Outdoor Trekkers has been a source of fun and fitness too, especially during the cooler months.
The Open Door Sunday weekly attendance average for the Nov ‘13 – Oct ‘14 is 21. In 2015 one of the aims is to grow this number to 30. The Facebook page has now attracted over 760 likes and the Open Door continues to provide ministry to a large peripheral of the congregation. The sacrament of the ‘Laying on of Hands’ has provided God’s healing blessing to many people this year. And the oblation fund offered by Community of Christ has been utilized to help people in need.
We are on the way to becoming a seven – day – a- week church. The Community Garden and Food Drive, which have recently started, are two projects that are going to help make a difference in our community. Next year, we are also hoping to begin Healthy Lunch Wednesdays and a Drop Inn.
On a personal note, I must say that being freed up this year from full time class room teaching has given me time to focus more fully on the needs and direction of the congregation. It has given me time to be more available to visit and socialise. I have had more time to pray and study, and not fly by the seat of my pants, quite as much. I hope to be able to continue working this way for 2015.
When I make an inventory of all of the tasks I have personally accomplished in 2014, I think many of these tasks are fairly insignificant ones when compared to the grand picture of making a difference in the world. But what gives me hope is the idea of the domino effect. One little action here, one right decision there, little by little, I can, we can, make a difference. We can be the difference! The mission of Jesus Christ is truly what matters most for our journey ahead!
Thank you, each one of you, for the journey so far, and I invite you to see what God has for us on the path ahead for 2015.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Sue Palmer