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World famous minister visits Assembly


The Assembly yesterday met up with the community minister of a “now world famous Uniting Church” and gave her a standing ovation.

“You and your congregation of Beaconsfield have done the Uniting Church proud,” Gregor Henderson told Frances Seen, from the northern Tasmanian town where a mine disaster left one man dead and two trapped underground for two weeks.

“We want you to know just how much we appreciate the fine witness to the gospel you gave,” he told her.

Mrs Seen, who’s probably had more media exposure than any other UCA minister in recent years, responded: “We did what the Uniting Church always does. In a time of crisis we were there … never knowing how much it would involve.”

Asked about the essential aspects of the ministry extended during the crisis, she emphasised how the church had been kept open day and night. “People came because they didn’t know what else to do.”

The town of Beaconsfield was now going back to doing what it used to do, but it would never be the same, she said. The tourist industry had escalated, and the Uniting Church had become the town’s most photographed building.

The goal now for the congregation was to keep the church open and for its people to be moving about and available to the community.

“I’d like to say the congregation has swelled but it hasn’t,” she said. “We’ve gone back to normal.”

But one addition to the church will be its bell, which had to be taken down about 30 years ago because the structure where it hung was unsafe.

It became a symbol. In its hastily made wooden frame, it was rung the moment the two miners were safely out of their ‘cage’, and its sound reverberated around the world on CNN’s news service.

Now a local service club has offered to build a new tower for that international bell from the world famous Uniting Church.

Read more about the 11th Assembly HERE.