Stories from the Wayside

Stories from the Wayside

Graham Long, University of Queensland Press

When the Uniting Church’s Rev. Graham Long tells stories, people don’t just listen — they opt in for weekly reflections.

And when the Chapel needs urgent repairs to the tune of $7 million, they help find the money to keep the community asset running.

That alone indicates the strength of Long’s writing and the esteem the Chapel’s work is held in by his readers.

Those who haven’t subscribed to his weekly “Inner Circle” email list can now read back on an archive of selections from 2004 to 2010 accompanied by photographs from some of Sydney’s finest photographers.

Started by the Rev. Ted Noffs in 1964, the Wayside Chapel is too often the only place left after hospitals and other systems designed to care for people are underfunded or packed to capacity.

Today Wayside helps around 100,000 people each year. Long writes, “We are not put off when the odds of success are slim; indeed, our role usually begins when the odds of success have already disappeared.”

His emails tell simple stories from the complex world of Kings Cross street people after they walk through Wayside’s doors.

The story of Wayside during Long’s tenure is also the story of Sydney’s drug trade tides and the state’s struggling mental health care system.

It’s a story of great generosity, patience and super-human multi-tasking told with humour and skill.

Photographers Gary Heery, Paul Westlake, Grant Matthews and Hugh Stewart use a mix of portraiture and reportage to document the place and the people of the Wayside Chapel two months prior to its rebuilding.

The Wayside’s modest motto (“We’re not much like a church which might suit you if you’re not much like a Christian”) contrasts with Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull’s closing testimonial of the highest praise: “Graham Long and his team work where Jesus would be if he lived at Kings Cross.

“The message of Wayside is a simple and undiluted one of love. Every single one of us owes them a huge debt of gratitude for the work they do every single day of the year in making such a big difference to the lives of others.”

Stories from the Wayside can be purchased through books stores or via thewaysidechapel.com.

Lyndal Irons

 

 

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