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Capricorn Coast Uniting Church’s Christmas puppet theatre. Photo: Rev Suzy Sitton

Christmas is a community affair on the Capricorn Coast

Stretching over 70 kilometres along the Central Queensland coastline, Capricorn Coast is a unique region of historical towns, farms, beaches, rainforests and wetlands. Rev Suzy Sitton—Capricorn Coast Uniting Church minister—reflects on what the Christmas season means for the area and her hopes for 2018.

Like so many places at Christmas time, the Capricorn Coast is full of families enjoying the holidays and the many beaches and fishing opportunities that are a feature of our region. For the Uniting Church it is an opportunity to engage with the community as we take part in the secular holiday activities.

In October we started by taking Messy Family Fun to the beach front for the Pineapple Festival. Our stall was positioned beside the Keppel Kraken water park. We set up a puppet theatre and craft tables making pineapple masks and small hand puppets. We learnt a lot: we need a bigger space, we learnt how to deal with wind and rain, and we learnt that our call to participate was strong and real, as we planted the seeds of God’s love.

There were conversations with parents, people with diverse needs were included, and there was a sense of acceptance of all. We observed relieved parents when told it was free, enthusiastic children and grandparents, people engaging with the puppets, the many children involved, especially boys joining with the men to make masks.

Each weekend of advent includes an opportunity to engage with the community through the Emu Park Carols and the lighting of the Singing Ship, the Christmas Tree Festival in the Yeppoon Town Hall, the Yeppoon Beach-front carols and our own Christmas BBQ and carols night.

All this brings challenges for celebrating Christmas within the diverse community that is the Capricorn Coast Region: 80 kilometres from Byfield in the north to Keppel Sands and Joskeleigh in the south with Yeppoon and Emu Park in the centre. Many will travel into Emu Park and Yeppoon for the Christmas Carols events, shopping and local services.

Our communities continue to face the effects of the ever changing employment situation due to changes in the mining industry in Central Queensland and casual-isation of the workforce. So the empty Christmas trees in our two congregations will again provide items for the local Christmas hampers.

My hope for the new year is that the vitality of our ageing congregations will continue to be a source of spiritual encouragement for our region. That we will continue to find ways of engaging with the local community to share the gospel message of hope, peace, joy and love so that all may come to know the reconciling love of God.

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