Our Diocese has had much involvement down through the years with the Bush Church Aid Society. Our present Bishop, Mark Short was previously the National Director of BCA (2011-2019). He succeeded Brian Roberts (1992-2011) who is now Area Dean of the Monaro and Acting Archdeacon of Queanbeyan and the Monaro. Brian and his wife Denyse in earlier years also served at Zeehan.
Many other clergy down through the years have served with BCA. Glen McDonald with his wife Beth and family moved from Junee this year to minister at Roxby Downs. In 2016 Graeme Liersch and Susan moved to begin work at Longreach and Barcaldine. Earlier on Stuart Haynes and Katherine moved from Moranbah to Bega. John Jenner who recently retired from Temora had previously served at Paraburdoo/Tom Price.
Other recent changes has seen Peter Blundell move to Swan Hill from Tumut, after ministering also at Boorowa and Crookwell. In earlier years Peter and Jeannette had served with BCA at Winton and Blackwater.
Still earlier Peter Nunn had gone from St John’s Canberra to King Island where he has retired. Another Assistant at St John’s was Gordon Thomas who later served at Southern Cross WA. Later still a former Rector of St John’s Greg Thompson (now Bishop) had earlier served at Sanderson NT.
Bill Ross, after curacies at Deakin and Albury, went to Kununurra and stayed for the duration of his ministry in the North West. Anne Ranse (nee Dau) in earlier years served as a nurse at Coober Pedy. The late Ron Hastie, together with Pam, who retired from Binda had earlier superintended the Broken Hill Hostel. Brian Carter who retired some years ago from Ginninderra had served at Tarcoola and Leigh Creek. Barry Green who at one time was Rector of Gunning served at Kununurra and as Victorian Secretary of BCA.
Royce Thompson now Locum at Sutton Road Mission District served in earlier years at Kununurra/Wyndham and paved the way for Keith and Cynthia Groundwater to serve at Adelong/Tarcutta with BCA. In still earlier years Dalba Primmer, former Rector of Bega served at Newman. And still earlier Tom Pickburn served at The Otway in the 1940’s before becoming Rector of Binda. There were numerous locums where clergy like Joe Mullins and Nick Hearnshaw from our diocese have filled positions for varying lengths of time.
Of course there are also many lay people as field staff like Helena Painting from Bookham who has assisted with Scripture across the Yass district on behalf of BCA.
So how did the work begin in the first place?
It was on a wet night on 26 May 1919 in the lower hall of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, that the Bush Church Aid Society was founded. This grew out of the work of the Colonial and Continental Church Society of London of which our first Bishop, Mesac Thomas had been Organising Secretary (1851-1863). Then in 1920 the Reverend S J Kirkby was appointed as the Organising Missioner. Those present for the inaugural meeting decided that the work of the Society should be continent- wide, and that its work should not be confined to any one State or any one diocese. At the 75th celebration of the BCA, Archbishop Keith Rayner stated, ‘let us continue to support its work through prayer and finance. Conditions may change, but the need for service and for the teachings of Christ remain.’
So why not make Sunday, 26 May 2019 an occasion in your parish to celebrate the centenary of BCA. If the date proves difficult find another time to celebrate this great missionary movement in bringing the gospel to the isolated places and people of Australia.
One activity that has already been arranged is ‘One Hundred Voices’, an afternoon with choirs making up 100 voices to celebrate and to provide a financial contribution in thanksgiving for the work of BCA. The afternoon commences at 2pm on Saturday 18 May in St John’s Hall, Constitution Ave Reid. Tickets $5 person and $10 family. Enquiries can be made by Tel 6259 2931 or Email email@example.com
by Reverend Canon Kevin Stone
Member NSW/ACT BCA Committee
P.S. The coffee table book pictured celebrating the centenary of BCA can be ordered through their website: bushchurchaid.com.au