Saltbush a ‘Gathered in the Scattered Community’ experience

Saltbush a ‘Gathered in the Scattered Community’ experience

Hillston Gunbar multi-linked congregations became a Saltbush Congregation long before Covid-19. Our congregations are on the northern border of the Riverina Presbytery, 740 kiometres west of Sydney. As part of Saltbush’s mobilising Ministry Plan, which linked urban and rural congregations, Northmead Uniting Church adopted Hillston-Gunbar for their rural mission plan.

Eight members of Northmead’s congregation visited us in January 2019, experiencing the effects of  a long drought during a blistering heatwave. We connected by a smart phone ‘on speaker’ in worship time, praying for each others’ needs, and one time shared the beginning of worship.  Rev Niall Read and wife, Paula, returned later in the year and spent nine days encouraging us, exploring different ways of worship and being church.

Our congregations had access to Saltbush online resources, a printable PDF liturgy and Lectionary – based video “The Word around the Bush” by Saltbush ministers, Mark Faulkner, Geoff Wellington and Tim Jensen. This could be downloaded and used in a Power Point presentation on Sundays or used for personal devotions.

Six months later, Covid-19 arrived. When churches closed weekly Saltbush@9 worship was a wonderful experience for those who could manage ZOOM. The worship was inter-active, uniquely Saltbush style. We had break-out rooms to share the peace, and discuss and reflect on the message.

Belonging to Saltbush gives smaller and remote congregations a real taste of ‘connectedness and belonging’ to the wider church.  We made new friends, Saltbush friends. The Saltbush team have provided Saltbush Cafe`s which run approximately four to six weeks. We study the Word, build relationships of trust, learn and grow together  as we share life and faith experiences.

The Cafés are safe and intimate spaces where God’s presence is known and celebrated. The present café with Rev Mark Faulkner called “Water for the Journey” is just that, where one can be nurtured, inspired, refreshed and enriched.

The new Saltbush gatherings of Christian Communities provide an essential need during Covid restrictions and will remain vital to the rural church post Covid and into the future.

you can also see more of what Saltbush do including Ruminations, podcasts and the weekly visual messages by visiting their website.

Jenny Rose Hillston-Gunbar


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