On Sunday 24, 2002, at the invitation of the Selection Committee, I led two services here at Mount Gambier Presbyterian.
We left five children behind and drove over; I still remember the vista as we approached the downward descent into Coleraine and the change to verdant fields.
In typical Mount Gambier fashion, the skies that weekend were clear blue and the weather warm. Ahem.
In more reliable fashion, the welcome Margaret and I enjoyed that weekend has proved to be a wonderful sample of that which we’ve experienced since we moved here in March 2003.
That first weekend Roger put us up at his home, and I recall an evening meal with the Foxes.
Rod Waterhouse and I spent a brisk Saturday morning driving around the parish and briefly confirming the complementary nature of our ministries and skills, in order to know we could work together. (I’d never met Rod before that morning.)
Rod then scurried off to perform a wedding (outdoors, in the heat at Umpherston Sinkhole, I think), and we met a group of folk that evening (in the Megaw’s front yard?)
Sunday saw two services at Allison Street, and sermons from Romans 8 and Mark 1. The Congregational lunch was a good time, especially eating dessert with the kids.
Vivienne Peate encouraged me to take my tie off at the evening meeting.
We drove home on the Monday, and that evening the Congregation met to make a decision whether to invite me here to be a colleague pastor to Rod.
Apparently the vote was not completely unanimous. Maybe it had something to do with my not wearing a clerical collar or something. Perhaps in the intervening years I’ve gained the confidence of those who were uncertain.
Well, what does all that wandering down memory lane mean?
Well people are inclined to ask me about my future plans.
All I can say is I never planned to be here in the first place, so don’t ask me.
We were inclined to go wherever we received an invitation from a congregation who were forward and outward looking and whose leadership loved the Lord.
I couldn’t have planned on coming to Mount Gambier, I’m just not that smart.
The little wooden church I came to faith in had a banner/sign on the wall behind the pulpit quoting part of Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
If, like me, don’t feel smart enough to plan your life, isn’t it comforting to trust God and let him sort out the details?
‘And I think now it’s easier to write worship songs which are basically like teenage love songs. And there’s a lot of worship songs which are basically about me and Jesus falling in love. And, you know, that’s fine, but as I’ve often said to teenagers, the point of falling in love is it’s like striking a match which is a very exciting thing to do in order then to light a candle with it. A candle is not as initially exciting as a match but actually it’s a very beautiful thing and if you look after it it will last a whole lot longer. So, what I want to see is Christians trying to develop music styles, which okay, grow out of and have the energy of the excitement of contemporary music but are always looking for something which will sustain, something which will last.’
Together For The Gospel Live 2 is a compilation from the singing sessions at the Together For The Gospel Conferences held during 2010 and 2012.
Bob Kauflin leads thousands of mostly male voices, providing piano accompaniment and restrained vocals. The listening experience of this album is a significant step up from the impressive predecessor to this album.
Old and new songs alike are treated to four-part arrangements, and one of the impressions I had while listening is that all sixteen tracks are not only worthy of being sung by local congregations, but that all of these songs could be sung by local bodies.
Kauflin and Mark Dever have worked together to provide a wonderful array of praise. Read Kauflin’s reflections on the recording and the process of song selection and presentation at his blog. The time and care taken permeate the finished album, and must have been a great encouragement to the conference attendees.
Kauflin lists websites and places where the album is available, and also mentions where the four-part scores for most of the songs can be obtained for free.
My favourite, of course, if bandcamp.
You can listen to this all day long.
A couple of recent posts from Bondia Timor Leste about the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Timor Leste are both worth noting.
The first has to do with the purchase of a block of land for a church building in Dili.
For two and a half years the Dili congregation has met under a thin blue tarpaulin in the driveway of one of the homes of a church member. Under the tropical sun the tarp just slows the light a little, while casting a blue light over the congregation who are perspiring under the heat which radiates through. During the Wet season the gravel driveway underneath becomes a torrent of water, and even sends the wandering hens and pigs off to find better shelter.
The recent outcome:
Local negotiations over price with the local landholder, his family and his village were fairly straight forward, but then the whole process had to wait in a processing queue in government departments for two years while they tried to cope with their overwhelming backlog of land rights issues.
Late last night we finally received the exciting news from Rev Daniel Marcal, Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Timor Leste …
“Praise the Lord. God has given land for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Timor Leste.”
This is the land for the church and the beginnings of a fence (a very important part of securing ownership).
Read the whole post here.
The second post contains news of an immanent ministry training trip to Timor Leste and is provided by David Burke leader of the Training Team
Three people from Sydney will visit Timor Leste between 1-8 December to share in a training ministry with the local church.
With local coordination from Daniel Marcal, we will run a training programme for 16 evangelists and nine pastors at Licquica west of Dili. The training will be focussed on the core skill of preparing and giving a Bible talk. In addition, there will be a session on cults and time for a synod meeting. Wilson Fernandes will arrive early to spend a weekend with the church in Dili and David Burke will have some consultations on behalf of APWM and PresAid before he departs for Singapore.
The team members are as follows:
- DAVID BURKE: David has been a Presbyterian minister since 1979 and has served in Australia and Singapore. He has conducted mission ministries in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. He last did ministry in Timor Leste in 2009. David is presently a full time lecturer at Presbyterian Theological Centre Sydney. He is married with three adult children and four grandchildren.
- WILSON FERNANDES Jnr: Wilson has been a Presbyterian minister since 1992 and has served in Brazil, United States of America and Australia. He has planted churches, directed Christian camps for 11 years and taught missiology at the Presbyterian Seminary in Brazil. He has a Doctorate of Ministry Degree, Master’s Degree in Theology / Missiology, a Specialization in Advanced Christian Leadership and a Bachelor degree in Theology. Presently, Wilson is planting a church in Sydney among the Portuguese-speaking people. He last did ministry in East Timor in 2009. He is married and has two adult children.
- YAS SHIMIZU: Yas is currently studying at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney. He was born and raised in Japan. He traveled to the USA after university graduation. In the USA Yas studied English, IT, and also worked as sushi chef. Yas returned to Japan in 2007. He married an Australian and moved to Australia in 2010. They have a two year old daughter.