Ecumenism: We’re all in this together!
Ecumenism has long been one of the Uniting Church’s focal points, but one rural congregation is taking it further and providing Christians from other denominations with a building to worship in.
The required closure of an Anglican Church in Hay has seen Hay Uniting Church provide the local Anglican community with their building for Communion services.
The move happens after church closures in the area have seen people from a variety of denominations join the congregation.
Rev. Nigel Hawken is Riverina Presbytery Minister.
“About twelve months ago the 1884 building of St Paul’s Anglican Church in Hay developed severe cracks leading to it being condemned, with the property now up for sale and the building will need to be demolished,” Rev. Hawken recalled.
“Around six months ago, with the necessity of that small worshipping community needing to look for another spiritual home, the Reverend Canon Wayne Sheean asked if monthly Anglican communion services on the second Saturday of each month could occur in the Hay Uniting Church.”
A deconsecration and holy communion took place on Saturday 13 June, beginning at the Uniting Church and finishing at the Anglican Church. The service was presided over by Bishop Donald Kirk, from the Anglican Diocese of Riverina, and The Reverend Canon Wayne Sheean, Rector of the Parish of Deniliquin and Moama. Rev. Hawken represented the Uniting Church along with Hay Uniting Church lay leader David Houston.
After the service in the Uniting Church, words of welcome and hospitality, were offered the Anglican community. The combined group then processed to the Anglican Church where the act of deconsecration of the building occurred and a time of remembering and viewing special artifacts and memorial plaques.
The move is a result of 15 months of collaborating conversations between the Anglican Church and Uniting Church.
“Through the grief of this situation an opportunity of relationship building has occurred not just in Hay but with a wider view across the geographical boundaries of the Anglican Diocese of the Riverina and the Riverina Presbytery of the Uniting Church in Australia,“ Rev. Hawken said.
“As rural communities have had to confront declining numbers in churches, ecumenical relationships have developed as the people of God in many of these country towns which has led to connections like this one in Hay.”
The current Hay Uniting Church congregation also has several Members in Association from the Lutheran, Anglican, Church of Christ, and Presbyterian churches.