Parramatta Mission farewells two long-serving ministers

Parramatta Mission farewells two long-serving ministers

Parramatta Mission recently farewelled two members of its local ministry in a service on Sunday, 28 February. Parramatta Mission CEO and minister Rev. Keith Hamilton and one of the Uniting Church Chaplains at Western Sydney University Rev. Amelia Koh-Butler recently concluded these ministries.

The service took place at Leigh Memorial Uniting Church and online via Zoom.

“This is the conclusion to my third placement,” Rev. Hamilton said.

“At the end of each I have said the following: All of us get to walk on the stage of life for a short time.  Some of us get to be at the front of the stage for a time, and then step back. 

“The day comes for all of us when we step off the stage of life.  We all leave a legacy, the issue is what legacy are we leaving?  Hopefully our legacy is one of gracious, inclusive, treating even people with whom we differ with dignity, living out faith and hope.”

“We are on the stage of life for a brief time.  On the stage of life, are we preparing for and preparing those who follow in the way of Jesus Christ?  Is our life one of giving glory and honour to God?”

Rev. Koh-Butler said that the conclusion of ministry service involved, “tears and fond memories” and “realising a ministry is only part of a bigger story.”

Waiting on God

Rev. Hamilton started at Parramatta Mission 13 years ago. He was inducted into Parramatta Mission on 4 February 2008.  He first served as the Senior Minister of Parramatta Mission and minister of the Leigh Memorial Congregation. 

He later became Senior Minister and CEO, in a dual role. 

In 2014 he relinquished the responsibility of minister of the Leigh Memorial congregation. 

During his time in these roles, Rev. Hamilton worked with and walked alongside a wide range of people, from federal members of parliament to local nurses and clients at Parramatta Mission’s services.

“I had collaborative leadership with the pastoral team and church council, and delegated responsibility for the operations of Parramatta Mission community services,” Rev. Hamilton said.

“I had the privilege of hearing the transformation of people’s lives through Headspace,” he said.

“One person, a family member of a member of a Uniting Church congregation…was one.  It took four attempts to get them to the Headspace office. 

“The first time, they were in the car and the car got to the end of the street, and they had to turn around.  The next time, they got a few streets over, and then had to turn back.  Until they were able to cope with getting in the door and seeing the people at the counter.  That was their starting point.  From not able to get out of bed.  Not able to get out of the house.  But after several sessions with our staff, they were able to get out and get their driver’s license and enrol at TAFE, and turn up. 

“I had the privilege of meeting many young people whose story was similar and whose lives were utterly transformed.” 

Rev. Hamilton told Insights that the other highlights included, “the privilege of walking beside people, whether congregants, staff or the clients, consumers, residents, visitors, guests, callers, patients, faculty, students as well as people in business, government, NGOs across Greater Sydney to Lithgow, Central Coast, Hunter-New England (Newcastle) and Mid-North Coast.”

Rev. Hamilton said that he is currently working on a PhD exploring the topic of Parish Ministry in the Uniting Church. At the time of writing, he has no placement to commence as yet.

“I am actively waiting on God for what happens next,” Rev. Hamilton said.

Ongoing tertiary ministry

While Rev. Koh-Butler is no longer one of the chaplains at Western Sydney University, she told Insights that she will still have some involvement in tertiary ministry in her new role, at Eastwood Uniting Church.

“My connection with the uni continues as a local minister rather than a fulltime Chaplain, but I will still supervise student ministers on campus and be their guest liturgist for Community Interfaith Services,” she said.

“My new congregation values Tertiary Ministry as a key part of its future mission plan, particularly in supporting Macquarie Uni. Eastwood is situated halfway between Macquarie and Western, so it makes sense for us to host events and activities that serve both.”

Rev. Koh-Butler said that highlights of her time at Western Sydney University included assisting refugee students and their families, being invited to address the Professional Staff Conference at Rosehill Racecourse, running the online Soup Kitchen during COVID, coordinating the Opening Blessing of the Westmead Campus, and coordinating ANZAC events and Harmony Day for staff and students.

“I believe we experimented with a different model of tertiary ministry – that the Mission sought to bless the university so that the university could bless the society and the world,” Rev. Koh-Butler said.

“Ministry was not just to students or staff, but equipping and enabling the community of the university to be in mission to serve the world God loves.”

“It was my best ever experience of effective mission and it was not about growing the church. It was about fulfilling the vision and values of God’s Realm.”

Rev. Amelia Koh-Butler will be inducted at Eastwood Uniting Church on Sunday 7 March at 4pm.

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