A recent Uniting News advertisement for free accommodation in return for providing Sunday services sparked an adventure from Ipswich to Kalgoorlie. Ruth Duncan reflects on her experiences moving westward and how she struck gold in the faith community.
A small advertisement in the weekly Uniting News email late last year popped up the day after my last lecture in New Testament within the Lay Preacher’s course at Trinity College Queensland.
The ad offered free accommodation in Kalgoorlie in return for providing Sunday services. What a great opportunity to see a different part of Australia and practise what I’d been learning over the course. Among the jaw-dropping from my local congregation members, they managed to ask questions like, “Where will you stay?” and “What is the congregation like?”
To these questions and more, including those that were in my mind, I had to say, “I don’t know”. I just heard the voice of God saying, “Come and see”.
Fast forward two-and-a-half months. The warmth of the welcome at the airport, the well-appointed manse, first service, taking responsibility for liturgy, sermons: all strong memories.
The leaders have been generous in accepting my husband and me as strangers into their midst. There have been significant, appreciated responses from this congregation as well.
So where am I now? In early February, it is now one month to go until I leave this place of goldfields, the
super-pit, mining poppet heads dominating the scenery, red ground and Salmon gumtrees; legendary history.
Kalgoorlie Boulder has its long-stay residents, but the acceptance of a transient like me into its midst is real and heart-warming. We could quite happily stay. Yes, we have a home, children and grandchildren in Queensland and, of course, a church family who are looking forward to our return. And yes, we will go back after my last service in late March.
They say they’ll let our tyres down so we can’t leave. But Ipswich City Uniting Church says it has attached a bungy cord to the car. Soon, we will drive almost 4000 kilometres across the Nullarbor, through South Australia and New South Wales to home and life at Ipswich again. We will be changed. You can’t help it. But what an enriching experience!
I joke about finding a big enough gold nugget to pay for the heritage-listed maintenance issues of Ipswich City Uniting Church. Well, I found gold: gold in the hearts of dedicated Christians in the Kalgoorlie Boulder Uniting Church. Gold in their friendship. Gold in their worship of our God, more precious than anything found in the ground.
Who will come and find more gold when we leave?