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In actual fact there were more than one hundred voices singing praises to God. This all happened on Saturday afternoon, Election Day, 18th May. And if you take in the audience then there were 300 people giving glory to God. This was an event organised by Maneerat Jeerapaet Pinyopusarerk from the Parish of Ginninderra. St John’s Hall Reid was the venue.

And yes, there was a 100 Voices massed choir that Maneerat conducted from an extension ladder. Participants of this choir came from many localities: Yass Valley Voices; St Ninian’s Uniting Church Choir; Spence Community Choir, which has been together since 2008; as well as individuals representing many different Christian denominations or none!

The 100 Voices massed choir sang the following hymns: Jubilee Hymn to the Holy Spirit; Immanuel; I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say; Lord of All Hopefulness; A New Commandment; Road to Zion; Bless Australia. And concluding with audience participation in singing Amazing Grace. They were accompanied by pianist Heather Shelley, and flautist Naomi Elliot, with Narrators Heather and Malcolm Bullock.

The afternoon was introduced by the MC, the Reverend Doug Newman from Batemans Bay. He then introduced Canon Kevin Stone, who through his work as a member of the ACT/NSW Committee spoke of the vision that inspired the formation of BCA and the support that has occurred across this Diocese for the work of the Society. ‘It was a wet night on 26th May 1919 when a small gathering of 26 church people met in the lower hall of St Andrew’s Cathedral Chapter House, Sydney, which marked the beginning of the Bush Church Aid Society.’ The result of that meeting was a vision to see ‘Australia for Christ’. Subsequently down through the years it became apparent that ‘going the distance’ was a real witness for the gospel.

During the course of the day  here were other groups contributing, introduced by Warren Ganter Saunders Gungarri who played a Didgeridoo solo. The Zimbabwe United Methodist Choir sang Agungkan mubatsiri wedu (God our present help in times of need); and Jehovah mufudzi wangu (The Lord is our Shepherd). The Indonesian Christian Community Choir, with Conductor Yama Radimin and pianist Frieda Scott, sang Agungkan kuasa namanya (All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name) and Slapa yang berpegang (Trust and Obey).

After this there was Afternoon Tea. Ladies from the Parish of Ginninderra did a magnificent job in catering for so many. It was delightful to have afternoon tea on the deck at St John’s where there was much talking and laughing. Kevin Stone met Barry Banks during afternoon tea. Following Kevin’s talk, when he mentioned living at Ivanhoe in the 1980’s where he was Principal of the Central School, Barry was keen to let him know that he had taught at Darnick, a railway siding between Ivanhoe and Menindee, where he was appointed in 1963. They could both relate to the isolation experienced by many BCA staff!

The afternoon concluded with a medley from Bewdy Uke from St Simon’s Anglican Church, followed by the Vietnam Evangelical Choir singing Here I am to Worship and Psalm 146, accompanied by pianist Samuel Le. Peter Kuot and David Jok from the South Sudanese Anglican Church also contributed items.

It seemed unlikely that over $3,000 could be raised to support BCA as the tickets only cost $5 a head. But the response was overwhelming as people generously gave to this important cause through a free-will offering. There were also reports of God’s healing, as Maneerat reported: ‘Jeni Murdoch who did the tickets at the door told us about miracles that happened: one lady who could hardly walk due to back pain, walked out after being prayed for. Another person with a haemorrhage felt better after being prayed for. Praise God!’

As an addendum to the May edition of Anglican News, the following  clergy have also been involved with BCA: Bishop Greg Thompson, a former Rector of St John’s Canberra, who was NSW State Secretary in the 1990’s; an earlier Curate at St John’s, the Reverend Gordon Thomas, went with BCA 50 years ago as Missioner to Southern Cross WA; and the Reverend Ron Keynes, who was Rector at North Goulburn 1976-1982, had in earlier years been a BCA Missioner at Leigh Creek and Ceduna. Are there others? 

by Reverend Canon Kevin Stone

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