When City Meets Country,
and vice-versa

From Rev Peter Beale

(Published in News First, September 2005 - monthly church newsletter, Warragul Uniting Church) 

In November this year, the Victorian Council of Churches will have its annual rural conference, and the location chosen for the event is Drouin. The Uniting Church is a leading member of the VCC along with many other churches including Anglican, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Salvation Army, Lutheran and most Orthodox churches.

I was approached to take a lead in organising much of the conference.  I was asked to consider a theme that may have something to do with a local issue, then find a speaker that could address the conference on the theme. I was also asked to prepare an outline for the conference, book venues, arrange catering and seek people willing to billet delegates.

Much of this is well underway.

The theme is “When City meets Country” and is about the encroaching urban sprawl already affecting Drouin, Warragul and beyond.  It has to do with the question of reaching out to people in our midst who have moved from the city to reside in our country towns.

Many of our newest residents have come to live here because of cheaper housing and easy access to Melbourne, rather than a particular desire to engage in the country and its more relaxed style of living.  They are likely to commute to Melbourne for work, and even for church, school and leisure purposes.  Their involvement in the life of the community in which they reside, at least initially, might only be for grocery shopping, or video/DVD hire.  The church can have a vital role in helping new residents to get involved locally, but how?

The venues for the conference will be the Drouin Uniting Church, and Christ Church Anglican.  Catering will probably happen in the Anglican hall, with the meetings in the Uniting hall.   It is expected that 60-80 delegates may attend the conference, and billets will be needed for around 20 delegates on the Friday night and possibly also Saturday.  Please consider offering your spare room for this purpose and let me know.

This event is a wonderful opportunity for the area, so if anyone would like to assist me, let me know.

Turning to the subject of my last letter in News First, I can now confirm that I have been negotiating with a congregation, and that a call has been issued to me to take up placement from the 1st of January.

The congregation is in the inner Melbourne suburb of Malvern East, and is only 10 minutes away from Vicki’s place of work.  Serrell St is a small but vital congregation that has recently sold one of its buildings and will be refurbishing the church building and hall next year.  They are seeking to be a strong presence of Christian faith in the local community, and I am excited about the many possibilities the future holds for us as we work together.

As I move to the city, one thing is for sure. I will be taking nine years of country living with me that, I hope, won’t rub off too quickly.

God’s blessings to you all.