So Long! Farewell!
Auf Wiedersehen! Adieu!
From Rev Peter Beale
(Published in News First, December 2005 - monthly church newsletter, Warragul Uniting Church)
Another singing family is on the move! Like the Von Trapp family the Beale family has to say Good Bye, but we won’t be going up the hills pursued by the enemy – rather we are heading down from the hills pursued by well wishers!
The time of our departure is upon us, with the final service at Drouin in a week, then the big move three weeks later. The sorting and boxing has begun, though there is much to do after five years of accumulation (not to mention all that stuff still unsorted from Mooroopna!) – five years! Where did it all go?!
It is hard to believe five years can go so fast, yet it has; so at the end of it, it is natural to reflect on the highs and lows, as well as postulate just what we have achieved together. So, let me indulge in some recollections of each year together and thus draw a picture of the whole.
I began my ministry in Central Baw Baw Cluster at NCYC (National Christian Youth Convention) in Brisbane, travelling back with the Gippsland delegates on the bus tour after the event. In Drouin, the “honeymoon” was over before it began: I was immediately faced with a couple of deaths within the congregation in the first few weeks.
I commenced doing two classes of RE at Drouin Primary school from March as part of my ministry to children in Drouin.
In both Drouin and Warragul, my focus on youth and families included “upbeat” services, which were soon replaced by a new service at 11AM, the Come As You Are services, piloted in July and August, and then twice monthly from October. In Warragul, Rosalind and I worked together on evening services and studies, so that there was something on every Sunday night.
In Ellinbank, the illness of Alan was the dominant pastoral concern in an otherwise good year.
Late in the year I conducted the funeral of Rhys, a five year old who died following an operation for a brain tumour (which took place only after huge community fund raising and support).
Family wise, Vicki worked for a time at Chairo Christian School, before beginning work with an Aged Care agency in Melbourne. My father became very ill in October and died in November (following a month in a comatose state). He was 76.
This was a very productive year with CAYA services running each month in Drouin and Warragul (God’s Gang in Warragul changed to 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays in response to this). I took on Presbytery duties as JNC convenor for Traralgon Parish, and I was approved to visit the hospital each week while Rosalind took Long Service Leave from late June through August (9 weeks, with Eric Smith in supply).
The youth group built up with numbers from the Bunyip parish, and worked hard to raise funds to send as many as possible to Newcastle NCYC in 2003. By the end of the year some 12 young people had registered!
The children of the cluster came together from September to put on the musical Christmas production of Papa Panov, with performances in Warragul and Drouin.
Following lots of preparation in the last months of 2002, the year commenced with the NCYC bus trip up to Newcastle and back, with chaplaincy at the convention. I was tour leader for all of Gippsland (with lots of help from Mick from Traralgon).
The return journey included a health scare that was to affect my ministry for most of the year. I had a massive gall bladder attack in Eden that had me in agony for days. It was a five month wait before I could have my gall bladder removed, followed by a recuperation time of three months, yet I only took one Sunday off as sick leave!
During this year CAYA services took place only in Warragul as support from Drouin members could not sustain them. Evening services at Warragul were stopped from June for a number of reasons: my operation, winter, low numbers, and because Rosalind had accepted a call to Hobart from October.
With Rosalind’s departure my involvement in ministry at Warragul increased with greater involvement with The Diner, Story and Play Days, and the new, monthly, Tiny Tots worship. I also took on board the regular council and committee meetings, baptisms, weddings and funerals that Rosalind would otherwise have done, as these were not the responsibility of the supply ministry given by Hannes Schaefer.
This year was marked by the supply ministry of Hannes who took services with me across the four congregations. With the increased workload something had to give, so I took a break from RE for the year.
In Warragul there was slow but definite progress towards the move to Sutton Street, and many of Warragul’s task groups went into a state of recess pending Rosalind’s replacement. Worship was changed to 10AM to bring together both traditional and CAYA styles to the one time but on alternating Sundays.
Drouin followed with a change to 9AM to give me more time for fellowship after the service.
Although small, I continued to support the Youth Group each week, and once again help the fund raising effort towards the NCYC in Adelaide this year.
Family wise, a short holiday in Tonga was followed by tragic times: Vicki lost both her grandmother and her brother in July and August, with the effect that my girls focused on being with extended family as much as possible. Vicki’s work load also increased so that she was away from home more than ever.
The third NCYC of my placement was in Gawler near Adelaide, and once again I led the largest group (seven) of any parish in the Presbytery. I took on the role of chaplain for the fourth time.
The arrival and induction of Chris Cohen was a chance for me to be freed up to take on RE again, and do a few less weddings, funerals and baptisms. Team meetings each week have enabled a good rapport to build between us and a confidence in each other’s ministry.
A significant distraction from normal ministry was the request by the Victorian Council of Churches to hold its rural conference in Drouin in November. I was responsible for organising the theme, guest speakers, venues, billets and catering. I also acted as MC for most of it!
Proposed changes to the structure of ministry within the Western Mission Area of the Presbytery came to the point of realization, with the hope to commence in 2006. This called for me to review where I stood in ministry here, what my family needs were, as well as the needs of the Drouin/Bunyip group of congregations.
Thus we are on the move to East Malvern in January and Ann Simons is preparing to take up ministry in Drouin in my place.
This is a very brief overview (with no doubt many other things that you could name) of my time in the Central Baw Baw Cluster. I believe that throughout these five years, I have continued to pursue those areas of ministry to which this cluster called me. Set against the struggles of grief, illness, increased burdens and ministry changes, I know that while I strongly wish I could have done much more with you all than was achieved, I will leave without any regrets. I have done my best under the circumstances, and I am content with that. I trust that you are too.
Yours in Christ, Peter.