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Make disciples; love our neighbours

Chaplain Gary Stone. Photo: Holly Jewell

The Year of Discipleship is part of the Uniting Church in Queensland's Vision 2020, focusing on the call to form active and accountable disciples. Catholic chaplain Gary Stone elaborates on his Norman and Mary Miller address to the 30th Synod.

I was delighted to be able to come and share my story during the 2013 Queensland Synod. I was so impressed by the energy, vitality and commitment of those gathered.

For those who did not hear me speak, I simply shared some of my experiences of being a disciple of Jesus, principally in the military as an infantry officer and a chaplain and also as a chaplain to the Australian Federal Police. I also spoke about founding the humanitarian organisation Friends and Partners of East Timor.

I am amazed how God has called me to work in so many places beyond the established frameworks of church, particularly to work as a peacemaker, especially in the countries of our region. In Matthew 28, Jesus commissions us to go out into the world and make disciples, and that is what I have made myself available for.

The other foundation scripture that has empowered me has been Jesus' reminder in Luke 11 that we should not only love God, but that we should also love our neighbour. When you look at the impoverished nations in our region you will find there is a lot of loving needed. My parish has established a partnership with a remote parish in East Timor and together we have raised and distributed one million dollars for capacity development over 12 years.

Indeed I can't imagine any Christian community in Australia being true disciples of Jesus if they are not engaged in some practical way in loving our neighbours through sharing our surpluses. While it is always important to sustain a healthy church base, we are all called to be missionary. What I have found is that when we make ourselves available and interested in truly loving our neighbours, the Holy Spirit will bless us and open the doors to new ways of being church. I have come to see that all people of the world are our brothers and sisters, and we must work together in unity and solidarity to live out our Christian vocation with integrity.

I would encourage anyone who has not yet given attention to overseas mission to seriously consider what you can do for the neighbours we have in our region. There are many ways to do this both from home and abroad, and I am sure UnitingWorld could guide you into some practical projects should you see scope to assist in this area.

May God continue to bless the mission and ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia. I was delighted to study with many of your ministers through the Brisbane College of Theology and continue to work in chaplaincy with many more Uniting Church ministers. Together we can make the world a better place. I am sure that Jesus delights in seeing us as his disciples.

Chaplain Gary Stone has served in the Australian Army and Federal Police, and is now heavily involved in aid and development work in East Timor.

Photo : Chaplain Gary Stone. Photo: Holly Jewell

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