Monday, August 29, 2011

Songs to sustain you...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the blessings of song, especially songs which lift our thinking to our Saviour and Lord. Our family has been having more of its fair share of winter ills this year and I have spent many a winter day inside with small sick people. What a blessing to have music to remind me of my Saviour's love and sustaining strength. One of my favourite new songs is As Surely as the Dawn, which has been written by Simone Richardson who ministers with her husband Andrew at Clayfield Presbyterian in Brisbane. I had the wonderful opportunity to learn it last year, hot off the press at the TWIST conference in Sydney. We were taught the song by Sarah Bailey who also ministers in Brisbane with her husband Dave at Creek Road Presbyterian. It was so great to be able able to take the new song back with us and teach it to our church family the next week!

The song is a collaboration between Simone who wrote the lyrics and Philip Percival of EMU music who wrote the music. It is a wonderful antidote to feeling blue and just a little bit "cabinfeverish".

Thanks so much to Simone and Philip and all those creative types who have been gifted by God to be a blessing and encouragement to us all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


For the last few months my wife, Liz, has been part of revitalising an "op shop" which is part of Presbyterian Social Services. Gillian Gilchrist, the conference organiser from Flourish, has also been part of the project. Its been a huge job (but they've also had a fair bit of fun with it). The purpose of the shop is to raise money to support the great ministries of PSS. This shop in the village of Glenbrook at the bottom of the Blue Mountains had heaps of potential, but wasn't turning the profit that it should have been. Liz has helped give the shop a total makover, including a new name: "Frippery". Frippery is an old word for "cast-off clothes", or a place where old clothes were sold (and the person who sold them was a fripper!). Now it means an "elegant or showy garment" or "something showy, frivolous, or nonessential". And its a word with a great sound. Check it out on Facebook.

The revamp has been terrific and the shop is a great place focusing on vintage, retro and contemporary clothing and homewares with good design. They've also added some fair-trade home wares and tea and coffee. It's the kind of place its nice just to hang out and explore. It has already generate some good community connections and interesting conversations - and I think it has plenty of potential for more of those.

Last weekend they had a fashion parade with vintage and retro wedding dresses and other formal clothes. Liz found a few brave volunteers to take the footpath outside the shop as a cat-walk and show off some of the wares. It drew plenty of attention for the shop. My contribution was to sit at a table at the cafe up the street and enjoy breakfast and the paper - and clap as the models went past. (It was a tough job but I coped!)

The fashion parade is the kind of thing a church could adapt, maybe partnering with a local op-shop, as a way of serving a good cause and making some community connection.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasmanian Challenge...

Many Tasmanian women and men joined together last weekend, some with their families, others with their church families for a weekend of encouragement, mentoring and wonderful Bible teaching. It was an awesome opportunity for spending time together, deepening relationships between the churches statewide and to spend time praying for one another and building each other up in all the ways that we serve in ministry.

Some women were in paid ministry roles, like school chaplains and women's workers and ministry co-coordinators. Others were involved in programs such as Mainly Music (a preschool music program with christian content) or running playgroups and children's activities, or as church treasurer...It was such a refreshing and relaxing weekend, the sun shone and the spit roast on Saturday night wasn't half bad either!

The theme for the weekend was Work and the Bible Talks by Dr. Andrew Cameron and Des Smith were excellent, especially in encouraging us to think about, how what we work at can define us, when we really should be defined by being part of God's family, saved by his Son. It was also an opportunity to think about what ministries we were involved in and how we might want to serve the Lord in the future, be that in full/part time paid ministry, in overseas missions or in our local mission field. Special thanks must go to Crossroads Presbyterian Church and Luke Hansard for his fantastic organisation of the weekend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

times of sorrow and thankfulness...

This last week has been one of sorrow for some of us as we have remembered the life of a great woman of the Presbyterian church in Australia.  Many of you (especially those from Queensland) will know Mrs Jenny Stark, a long serving member of Central Church Ipswich.

Last Thursday her funeral service was held in the Heritage building and it was filled to capacity, with overflow in the auditorium.

Jenny was the sort of woman we aspire to be; someone who served the Lord Jesus with all of her heart in so many ways.

Her legacy will live on in the lives of the many in whom she invested countless hours of time and care. Those who she mentored, taught, tutored, lead, guided and showed in so many practical ways how to love and serve the Lord.  Jenny knew what is was to put her faith in to practice and she was an inspiration to so many, especially young women.

This beautiful song was sung at her funeral (It is Not Death to die, Come Weary Saints album, Sovereign Grace Music.) 
 It is not Death to die, to leave this weary road,
and join the saints who dwell on high,
who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close the eyes long dimmed by tears,
and wake in joy before your throne,
delivered from our fears.
Encouraging words for our times of sorrow and thankfulness.

Jennifer Ann STARK

Aged 66 years, of Raceview, Ipswich, Queensland.
Wife and Soulmate to Ken. Eldest Child of Archie and Marjory of Coominya, Mother and Mother-in-law of Rebecca and Scott Muir, John and Alison Stark. Nana of Jasmine, Josiah, Soraya, Ari and Baxter.
Jenny went to her Lord on Thursday afternoon, 4th August, 2011, at home, with her Family.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Women's Winter Festival Hobart

Winter in Hobart is a time of long nights and short days so it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to meet together with other women from the various Presbyterian churches in town to share some winter evenings...

One Saturday a month during each of the winter months we have met together for good music, mulled apple juice, hearty winter soups and delicious desserts.  The theme for this year has been Jesus in the Psalms and each month we have heard a bible talk from women involved in ministry in Tasmania.

Women of all ages have met together and are able to choose from a range of discussion groups which are held whilst people are eating.  Mentoring one to one, Ministry of the Pew, Promoting communities of Grace are some of the discussion topics so far this winter.  New relationships are established and old friends meet up as we mingle and then make a selection from the table of desserts on offer!

A wonderful evening full of rich discussions and such a fantastic forum for encouragement and building each other up in love and in service of our Saviour.

The next Women's Winter Festival will be held on 27th of August at the Philip Smith Centre, beginning at 5pm.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Donvale Presbyterian Women's Night!

On Saturday night we had a wonderful women's dinner with inspirational speaker Fiona Krelle! A hundred or so women turned up, some older, some younger, some recent church attendees, some friends and neighbours. The theme was black and pink so a fabulous array of outfits and thorough decorating made the church hall look amazing!


The dinner was catered and we had chicken, pesto, sundried tomato and pine nut filos with vegies followed by either lemon tart or pavlova. Are your mouths watering already!? Huge thanks to the young girls who served and washed up... the evening ran very smoothly with lots of chatter and catching up!

Fiona spoke on "Finding Joy in the Turbulence of Life", sharing her very engaging life story with its many twists and turns. It was refreshing to have someone share so personally and genuinely with honesty which only comes from security in our identity as a child of God. Particularly engaging were the stories of the way God used Fiona's gifts as a nurse in such varied situations, her desire to care for the needy children of the world, her passion for the calling of motherhood, her willingness to trust God even when meant a massive leap of faith, and her openness about how God used her imperfections to teach her things about Himself.

I also had the opportunity to share about Flourish and the Presbyterian Women's Committee so hopefully we will have some people rock up to the conference next year from Melbourne!

Finally, we launched our sewing project for the year...  Pads for Africa which will help change the lives of women in Africa by providing them with a kit of menstrual pads, enabling some to go to school without interruption, and encouraging others to come to hospital to give birth in greater safety rather than in poor conditions at home. We would love women across Australia to be part of this and you can find more details through the facebook page or add a comment below and I'll send you more information. Help can be given through donations of materials, new underwear, ribbon, sewing help and so on.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

a great meeting...

I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet with other people from various parts of Australia to talk about Women's Ministries in the Presbyterian Church.  I loved the fact that I was meeting old friends and making new ones.  Sydney is of course a great place for a meeting and the fact that it was definitely winter in Hobart and it was a sunny blue sky day in Sydney was not lost on me! 

It was so good to have to whole day to meet together and have some really robust discussions about the ways in which we can be encouraging the work of the gospel in the Presbyterian church across the country.
Another highlight was meeting some of the women from the New South Wales PWA who were preparing food for Park Patrol.  I was really blown away by their commitment to serving those in need, in the inner city.  They were so welcoming and commented on how they were encouraged by meeting a younger women all the way from struck me that surely this is exactly what the WMPCA is all about.  Such an excellent forum to encourage and build one another up all around the nation. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Exciting developments ahead!

On Thursday 28th July the Women's Ministries Committee met together in Sydney to discuss where we were up to with planning for our upcoming Consultation in February 2012 and our next Flourish Conference.

Hard at work minute taking is Andrea Pryde (QLD)...

John McClean (NSW), Mairi Girgis (Vic), Margaret Thatcher (WA) and Rachel Bain (Tas) were hard at work discussing issues... as you can see it isn't too onerous... one might even suggest enjoyable!
Andrea and Ceale Orford (QLD) enjoying the day!

Actually we had a very productive time. The main focus of our discussion centred around our upcoming Consultation for those who are actively engaged in Women's Ministries across the PCA. We hope that although that will be a smaller group of people it will give us a real sense of where things are at in each state, what issues are current, where things have stalled and how we can help each other, and what sort of topics would be worth incorporating into our next national conference.

We then discussed the possibility of when our next Flourish conference would be held and hope that we can organise it for mid 2012! What an exciting prospect! Our last conference was in 2009, Sydney, and we had well over 100 men and women attend! Hopefully next year even more of you will be able to come along! Our proposed theme for the conference will centre around the notion of putting theory into practice... helping you promote and develop women's ministries in your congregation and neighbourhood, no matter what style of ministry you are working with! If you have suggestions for workshops you'd love to participate in please feel free to suggest ideas for us to consider!

Finally, we discussed our website, blog and facebook page! We would love to see these developed more as a way of promoting networking, sharing resources, and providing encouragement! Rachel and Mairi will be keeping a regular series of blog posts going and John, Ceale, Andrea and Margaret will be contributing once a month each so please make sure you follow this blog or keep an eye on the facebook page where we will be linking each post from now on! And certainly give us feedback if you have ideas for how we can better use any of these sites! Rachel will be along a little later to pretty up this page and add some more thoughts!

Please keep praying for the committee as we plan for the future. Please also pray for the Presbyterian Church in Australia as we work towards putting biblical principals into practice!