a wonderful service - Sunday 11 January 2015! Over 240 people
including visitors from Chris Cohen's previous congregations shared this
worship service led into the formal Service of Relinquishment,
speeches and presentations. Photos from the service and Stan’s
summary of Chris’ ministry with us are included here. Thanks to
Rodney Carruthers for the ‘close-up’ photos. A shared luncheon followed.
Cohen, January 11th 2015
impressions are often right. That
was certainly the case for me, and for many others I believe, from the
first meeting and conversation with Chris ten years ago.
There was the strong belief that he was going to be the right
person for ministry placement at Warragul.
congregation shall always be grateful to the Gippsland Presbytery for
listing us a Priority Placement for Ministry.
Knowing that Warragul was on the verge of significant change and
a new beginning on a new site – a minister was selected for us – we
did not have to seek a placement ourselves.
only did we get Chris, but Barb as well with gifts in caring and
hospitality; but more importantly, Barb’s absolute support and
encouragement of Chris in his total areas of ministry.
Chris’ Induction Service, he didn’t say a lot.
But he said he would journey with us as congregation.
Not out front telling us what to do – not behind and watching
the action – but journeying with us, alongside and amongst the
congregation. Chris has
certainly done just that.
has been a journey – exciting, rewarding, hard work – sometimes
frustrating and a bit daunting and scary - - - in those early years of
land development, building construction, working with architects, with
Uniting Church Property and Finance personnel.
was an incredible source of strength to us lay people and was very much
involved in the whole process. And
we certainly are privileged as a congregation to be where we are today;
a modern Worship Centre in attractive spacious grounds; a friendly,
generous and caring congregation who desire to worship and work together
in reaching out in mission with the love of God in our hearts.
again Chris’ overall ministry has been the key component in that
growth and desire.
has many strengths, qualities, gifts – as a person – as a minister.
Let me highlight just four.
His Preaching ● His
Pastoral Care ● His Practicality
● His Personality
has truly blessed us with his preaching.
He has led us in great, meaningful worship.
He has taught us. He has
challenged us and has encouraged us. And
always presented in a way – a manner – a language we could understand and
accept. And always from the
heart – AND without notes.
the early days when we were a bit ‘blown away’ by his preaching without
notes, he said “I just love the Gospel and I love to preach from it and
does a service ever go by without Chris referring to – pointing to this
cross [here in the Worship Place] as the very foundation of everything in
is always important to Chris and he devoted much time to this –
probably more than any of us realize.
He has been so faithful. He
quickly got to know people’s names, got to know some of their story
and situation and was able to show care for people of any age.
the youngest children on the floor out front with the ‘flock of
the Teenagers Bible Study – Young Adults – Mums and Play Group –
Kindergarten – Young Families – and on through the whole mature age
group – at varying stages of life – with different needs.
was there for all, to give sensitive and personal care.
– Chris is pretty handy too – a good all-rounder.
John Currie commented that Chris has still got ‘Mechanics
Fingers’. What he
tightens up with fingers, we need a spanner to undo.
also reminded me that on one of our first meetings with Chris, he ended
up changing a tyre for one of the folk at that gathering.
I mentioned earlier, Chris’ practical knowledge and ability and
previous experience was invaluable in our building phase.
And he would be at working bees – fencing, gardening, barrowing
mulch or metal or soil. Helping
people with furniture shifts. Helped
with our troubles. Setting
up tables, chairs for the whole range of different activities over the
year. And always on hand
with Fete preparation and activities on the day.
Barbeque, Apples, anywhere there is a need – part of the team.
of the large congregation at Chris Cohen's Final Service
As a person, Chris exhibits an open, friendly and caring manner – and
because of this, people are easily engaged in conversation – a
connection is made – and people know that Chris absorbs what is
is a friend to all of us. He
is everybody’s friend. Again
as I said before it is to all ages and all types.
From the Tiny Tots to hanging around the fellows in the Men’s
Group or the Train Shed Gang – the Crafty Ladies – The Diner folk.
Bible Studies, Lenten Studies – Old and New Testament.
Able to relate in every situation.
input into community has also been significant.
With the local fires in 2009 there was much long-term counselling
and follow up.
was much involved at another level, with the other ministers in the
town. I think at first it
was hard going to get together and pull in the one direction, but Chris
hung in there. He tried to
get some support with our annual erection of the cross at the cenotaph.
For a couple of years some turned up sometimes.
And then two years ago – look what happened.
Chris’ persistence bore fruit – four, five other churches
involved and a great crowd to join in the whole Easter experience – I
think thanks to Chris.
/ Church Council
believe every Elder every Church Councillor over the years will have
valued highly the sharing with Chris at those meetings.
His devotional input and leadership, his wisdom and wise counsel,
his strength and presence and perception.
In every area of pastoral oversight, planning, administration –
worship and visioning.
of the planning and preparation for worship would involve the Worship
leaders, singers, musicians and our Office Staff.
This again was an area where Chris showed respect and gratitude
for work done – for gifts and talents used by the lay people.
couple of months back the readings were about the wise and unwise
virgins who did or did not trim their lamps.
‘Be Prepared’ was the message.
related to us that early in his ministry a member had said to him to
remember the six P’s.
Perfect – Preparation – Prevents – Poor – Pathetic –
Performance. I believe
Chris took that to heart and has practised that in his ministry.
I have never known him come to any meeting, service, or gathering
of any kind without being prepared.
Many times, Chris is first to arrive and last to leave.
is proof of his commitment and readiness to always give his best.
congregation has been so much united, enriched, encouraged and built up
throughout Chris’ ministry here.
We feel so privileged to have experienced his ministry.
And we are deeply grateful for the years we have shared together.
So . . . What’s
at the base of all this? What
is the motivation?
our Elders meeting last September, Chris led devotions.
He asked us to think of and share about one or two readings or
part of scripture which had particular meaning to us and impact on our
of the elders did just that and then Chris shared his.
He drew us first to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.
Reminded us that it’s helpful to personalise the ‘Happy am
I’ - - - to belong to the kingdom of heaven; be humble; do what God
desires; be merciful; pure in heart; work for peace; be known as
follower of Christ.
then he read Philippians 2. 1-11 Christ’s
humility and greatness.
A reading which highlights the relationship with Christ and how
that effects the mind and motivation and the attitude towards others.
(Verse 5) ‘The attitude you should have is the one that Christ
Jesus had’. This is
meaningful to Chris. He
challenged us – encouraged us. That
our lives need to reflect Jesus Christ.
reckon Chris has done that well here in Warragul the past ten years.
Service of Relinquishment led by Rev Sani Vaeluaga
to the service from 'out front' —
including spoken tributes, leading the
congregational singing, musical items
and presentations to Chris and Barb