Newsletter 6 November

6 Nov 2020 by Rev John Thornton in: Latest News

So, we find ourselves in November and the Melbourne Cup has been run and won and the Blues lost the 1st State of Origin??  How come we are playing State of Origin in November anyway??  Oh yes; there is some election type thing going on in the USA.  Who knows what that is about!?

This Newsletter will land with you around 50 days short of Christmas Day.  I knew that would cheer everyone up.  This means that the Mid North Coast Presbytery Annual General Meeting is close by and after many months of Zooming, this time we will meet face to face.  Your Standing Committee is making sure that all COVID Safe requirements are covered so that we can gather for our final meeting of the year.

We will all be seated at the required social distance – no tables – and lunch will be a BYO affair.  The day will begin with a special Induction service for Rev Cherie Strudwick.  Yes, we are trying to do a bit of catch up in these closing weeks.  We are extremely excited to announce that our Moderator, Rev Simon Hansford, will be our guest for the day.

If you are a Presbytery representative, please pay close attention to Penny Archers mailings in coming days.  I look forward to catching up on November 14.


Don’t fence me out!!

We have enjoyed seeing our garden develop over these months.  We have had wins and losses, with the likelihood of more ahead.  One of the spin-offs to our digging and planting of late is that our pup Digby has also discovered the joy of digging in the garden.  He does however still need some training in the fine points of our endeavours. 

When Veronica is busy weeding, he has found it particularly enjoyable to help by digging holes – very deep holes.  He also is a very caring and loving creature and at the end of the day when we might be relaxing over a beverage, Digby enjoys running into the lounge room with one of our hard won flowers in his mouth, clearly expecting praise for his diligent agricultural work!

The newest addition to our back garden is a fence!!  Yes, we had to build a wall.  It is a bit rough right now, but it is at least effective, and the boy seems to be adjusting to his latest restrictions.

It has been a year of coping with ‘fences’ that we never so much as considered back in January.  Some of our fences now seem to be lowering but the call is for continued vigilance.  Slowly but surely our congregations are either back face to face or are now making plans to do so.

On behalf of the Presbytery leadership team, I want to congratulate and thank everyone for the way in which you have responded to this challenge.  It has been a great effort as we all faced so many new and different fences.

What now?  Clearly it is important to look after our faithful saints and I imagine there is a great deal of pastoral care that still lies ahead.  My hope as we increase our face to face gatherings, is that we might think on the things we have learned over these months and begin to sprinkle a few fresh seeds of worship ideas moving forward.

My other hope is that our exposure to so many ways of being church is not lost as we look to the future.  It is not just about what we can do with computers and online worship options.  It is about realising that we are a people quite able to roll with the COVID punches and discover a bunch of ways - not just to maintain what is and always has been - but to find that we are more open than we dreamed of to doing other things. I hope that we can keep playing with new ideas.


VALE Paul Cowley

I was very saddened to hear of the recent death of Paul Cowley, Chair of the Bellingen Uniting Church Council.  Paul was a very thoughtful and caring man who was highly respected by the Bellingen UC people and by the Bellingen community. I always enjoyed my interactions with Paul and want to offer his wife Jane and family all our sympathies and best wishes.

VALE Max Moase

While tidying up this newsletter I heard of the death overnight of Max Moase, a long-time member and leader with the Woolgoolga Uniting Church.  Max was a good friend of mine and many others and we wish Val and family all the best in these sad times.


I am encouraged by the great work of our Peace and Justice Group this year.  I received their Peace and Justice Monthly Newsletter recently and was impressed by the variety of concerns that they are seeking to support and the clear passion that they hold.

I have taken the liberty of taking a quote from the newsletter incorporating some thoughts from Rev Dr Jason John:

“Our DNA as church is to be prophetic and pastoral in its response to the wider community and the rest of the world. In doing so we can still see Gods, at work in all people, from the words of Rev. Dr. Jason John:

‘Mission is not only ecumenical but may cross religious boundaries also.  Any who work out of love, for humanity and the creation, may potentially be valuable allies in the struggles against evil.  While God wants all people to come to a fuller understanding of [God], through Jesus, this is not only God’s concern.  Justice and compassion for those marginalised by society, amongst people and amongst the whole creation, is one of God’s concerns.  God is especially concerned for the poor and marginalised within…creation, those who do not fit the ‘system’, and who suffer because of it.  This  is not because they are more moral or pure than others, but because Jesus himself was such a person, and in being for the marginalised, and in identifying with them, we identify with Christ.’”


Our United Theological College and Charles Sturt University are offering a Theology Intensive this January on the 19th to 22nd at Port Macquarie and will be led by the Principal of United Theological College, Rev Dr Peter Walker.

The subject will be presented as an intensive and is available for Bachelor of Theology and Graduate Diploma, as a single subject, and for those wanting to audit the subject for interest.

Class Times 19–22 January 2021 9.30am – 4.30pm Location Port Macquarie.  Information and Enrolment please contact Joanne Stokes on or phone (02) 8838 8967.


This Newsletter will be my last as Chair of the Mid North Coast Presbytery as I am stepping down from that role on November 14.  It has been an interesting journey. I took on the role at the AGM of November 2016, having just days earlier responded positively to our General Secretary Rev Jane Fry asking me to assist her in 2017 as Acting Associate Secretary of the Synod at a 75% placement.  I know, silly move.  However, I managed to remain as sane as you can be through that first year and like to think that I made a fair fist of my Synod position.

It has been a challenge leading this presbytery through a time of transition as we have learned to be less minister centric and hopefully more mission centric with a growing emphasis on the abundance of wisdom and giftedness within all of our congregations.

I understand that the Presbytery leadership is looking to continue regular Newsletter type communication in some form going forward.

I think that future of this presbytery is looking good and thanks for letting me share in the journey.

Readings for Pentecost 23

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7; 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Matthew 25:1-13.

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God.  And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors – Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.  Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many.

“Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

It is somewhat ironic that this reading falls amid the USA presidential election.  Possibly the most disturbing image leading up to the election for me was of a local government leader sitting in her truck and proudly showing people her Bible, only to then place her gun on top of it.

You're the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear, oh, woah
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear, oh, woah

Ooh, we're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You’re The Voice – Songwriters: Keith Reid, Maggie Ryder, Andy Qunta, Christopher Hamlet Thompson

For me, life is about choices.  I have made my share of bad ones but have hopefully learned something from them and increasingly have learned to make better ones.


Choose this day whom you will serve