Last weekend, over three nights, our worship centre at All Saints in Arthur Street hosted a series of open-air movies under the stars, together with a barbeque and other refreshments. Particularly at the 6.30 pm 'family' showing, a good audience was present, enjoying Up, Lion King and Toy Story 3. We hope this may be a regular feature, maybe twice a year, as we enable All Saints to develop its life and ministry to the community.
All Saints is in some ways like a platypus: it easily goes unnoticed. Changes of time, activity and orientation at our other two parish worship centres has also seen it drift somewhat, especially after its regular members declined to make any time and worship changes in the 2013 parish review. For the 8 am regular worship time has clashed with the much bigger centre of St Luke's and there has been no clear focus for the future. With considerable faith and courage, All Saints congregation has however now launched themselves into a new time slot - 4.30 pm on a Sunday - and begun establishing new links and a refreshed profile for its surrounding community. Its hall is now certainly well-used during the week. It offers hospitality to both the Toowoomba Coptic and Greek Orthodox worshipping communities and it is a delightful setting for a wedding. Time will tell but we had a very encouraging gathering for worship at the first 4.30 pm service last week. Led by its current dynamic centre wardens, we hope it can therefore continue to claim its growing identity as 'Toowoomba's Village Church'.
Nei Neiwa Yi Yu Gali. I’m sorry, I don’t know many words of local language: especially the words used for celebrations just like this, in this place, for thousands of years. So those words will have to do. But imagine that. Imagine all who have gathered, like us, for thousands of years in this Darkinjung and Guringai country: meeting, binding in love, feasting, singing, and dancing, the joy of human relationship. Nei Neiwa Yi Yu Gali: we walk, or dance, together, with Mother Earth. Don’t we?! Isn’t that what we do today: aren’t we dancing a celebration, together, with this part of Mother Earth, and with these two remarkable people, Cathleen and James, who owe so much to this place.
Thank you everyone for gathering here and thank you, Cathleen and James, for choosing to bring us here - and not to Sydney. For this is a truly amazing area with fabulous people and places. Indeed, it is an area full of Indigenous birthing places: like the birth canal which runs out from Narara, James’ homeland; close to Gosford School, where James and Cathleen first met; out past the Gosford Anglican site where Cathleen first lived and where she and James have just been married; further out past our family home in wonderful Woy Woy, towards Sydney, where Cathleen and James now live; and to the sea, a living expression of the depth and open future to which they are now called, into a new birth together, in the mystery of love.
Today is James and Cathleen’s day. So let me just share three brief things. Unusually, for me, they are from three men and no women. For, throughout Cathleen’s life in Australia, I have been part of a female household: fabulous females indeed, but all females, even both our dogs. So it is a huge joy fully to welcome James into my closest family, as a fellow male. Maybe God - bless her - has finally started to readdress the balance?! At any rate, Beeny, today, just for once, I’m going to ditch my usual feminist desire for inclusivity, and offer you, with James, three pieces of masculine wisdom...
on becoming a father-in-law
Two weeks ago I shared in the gorgeous wedding of my daughter Cathleen and James Murch. It was a delightful occasion and one which, I quickly realised, also represented quite a time and rite of transition for myself. Happily the wedding took place at St Mary's Anglican Church in Gosford, because of James' family origins and our continued family connections with friends on the NSW Central Coast, not least Fr Rod Bower who led the ceremony. Through the kindness and generosity of Lorraine and Jeff Long in Umina, we were also able to begin the bridal party journey from our beloved Woy Woy Peninsula. As such, it was such a joy to travel by limousine past so many places of family and personal significance: along Ocean Drive, up past St Luke's Woy Woy, past the station and portal to Sydney, along the beautiful Brisbane Water Drive, past Cathleen and James' old school, past Kibble Park and several special event memories there, along Mann Street with a glance at Central Coast Stadium, and to the church site itself where we had spent so much enjoyable time in the first years of emigration from England. The occasion linked all of that, and so much more, with fine and enjoyable wedding celebrations, sprinkled with quirky, loving features typical of the couple. In doing so, it took us all into new space, consolidating James and Cathleen's relationship in many vital new ways, and taking each of us who are close to them into new spaces and relationships of our own.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.