Worshipping as one
On Sunday, 7 June, three Uniting Church congregations gathered together online, as St John’s Uniting Church in Wahroonga joined Moree and Narrabri Uniting Church for a joint worship service.
Rev. Suzanne Stanton told Insights that the service was the culmination of months of planning, and years of relationship building between the congregations.
“Quite a few members of the St John’s congregation have connections to rural Australia,” Rev. Stanton explained.
“During 2019, the congregation became acutely aware of the difficulties that the drought was creating for many rural communities and several congregation members came forward with ideas for fundraising.”
“Initially we sent money to the Moderator’s Appeal, and then later several congregation members expressed a desire to have a personal connection to another place or congregation. They asked me to locate a congregation that we could send funds to.”
“As soon as I gave it a little thought Rev. Paul Cosier and the congregations of Moree and Narrabri came to mind. Paul and I studied together during our formation for ministry and have kept in touch since then. So I rang Paul and asked him if we could send the money we had raised to Moree-Narrabri, for use in whatever way the congregations saw would be helpful to the church and local community.”
“Since then Paul and I have caught up by phone regularly and I have shared back to the St John’s congregation a little about Paul’s experiences as the funds have been used to assist people suffering due to the drought (bearing in mind confidentiality of course!). Paul recently sent us some photos of the transformed countryside now that there has been rain and I shared these with the congregation in our Sunday Zoom gathering.”
Before the COVID-19 restrictions came into place, Rev. Stanton had begun discussing with Rev. Cosier the possibility of some congregation members making a trip to visit him and the congregations of Moree and Narrabri.
“Now, as many congregations including Moree-Narrabri and St John’s are gathering via Zoom, we have a great opportunity for all three congregations to gather together and worship as one,” Rev. Stanton said.
On this occasion, Rev. Cosier led the service and ran it via Zoom. Rev. Stanton also took part, leading some of the prayers. St John’s has a Candidate for Ministry undertaking field education, Sanghyeon Nam. Moree- Narrabri has another candidate, Suzanne Holloway, in field education. Suzanne and Sanghyeon also took part in the service.
While the service has taken place, the congregations hope that there will be more.
“We hope (the service) will be just one of many connections the three congregations will make, and that one day soon members of St John’s will be able to travel to visit Moree and Narrabri in person,” Rev. Stanton said.