I am deeply humbled and thrilled to announce that I am again being called to ministry in Sydney - as the next Minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church. This is a wonderful high profile progressive faith community which gathers on Gadigal land in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. After much reflection and careful discernment with the Uniting Church, Penny and I believe that this is the very best way in which I can serve with others in nurturing faith, love and hope in the next few years (from 1 March 2021) - as well as, very happily, being again close to family in Australia. I extend my thanks and blessings to all with whom I have journeyed in the past and to those I look forward to joining soon...
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...
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.