On 21st June, 2022, I will celebrate 20 years in the Diaconate, ordained in Saint John’s Anglican Church, Wagga Wagga, together with Leonie White, by Bishop Godfrey Fryar. It was a momentous occasion which will remain in my memory always. I was ordained as a Deacon in Pastoral Care and Counselling after many years as a Primary School teacher and then Special Needs teacher and Pastoral Counsellor. I have carried that teacher training and those people skills into the present.
My husband, Harvey, is a priest in the Diocese. So, with frequent moves, my ministry has varied with the location, as a lay person then as a Deacon. I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of different parishes and in more recent years different locums. Taking my place as a Deacon beside my husband is always special.
Pastoral Care has been an easy transition from one parish to the next. In most I have also engaged with Aged Care pastoral work for both the residents and the staff, and sometimes the families of residents. School Scripture has also been a given as I love teaching, and being involved, especially with the very young, has been fun and rewarding. It’s an interesting dynamic to move from the very young to the aged within the week. The approach is similar in many ways, engaging the participants at their own level in their Christian journey.
I have tried some new approaches; Spiritual Reminiscence (using The Reverend Liz MacKinlay’s book) with both staff and residents at the Aged Care facilities, and also with those in voluntary pastoral work in Aged Care. I considered it vitally important that those working in Aged Care had an understanding of the environmental factors of the aged, particularly in the spiritual realm. A holistic approach in caring is essential.
An exciting community project evolved in Tumut from my realisation that the parish’s approach to welfare was often just a ‘band-aid’ on the real problem. An ecumenical community approach was needed. So the Tumut Community Pantry came into being. It is a whole-town approach, with volunteers from the majority of churches in town and also some not affiliated with church. Many businesses and clubs in town support us with the occasional financial contribution or being a collection point for non-perishable food items. We connect with Coles Second Bite program and Woollies passes on close to ‘use-by-date’ food items. We do have a small charge for a box of groceries, but the customer leaves with extras of fruit, vegetables and sometimes frozen meat. We often have special days with treats (Christmas boxes, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, Easter). Special cards with a small scriptural text or prayers are also tucked into boxes. A comment from one customer was, ‘The Pantry on Friday is my church’.
Addressing another area of need, I recently commenced Meditation on Fridays. This is simply a gentle time of scripture, reflection, music and quiet time. In this often challenging world, we can forget to stop and listen to what God has to say to us. And so the journey continues with often rewarding, sometimes challenging, encounters enriching my life.