Dr Paul Inglis is a Uniting Church Community Minister in the Dayboro-Mt Mee area inland from the Sunshine Coast in South-East Queensland.
[For those who may not know: Community Ministers in The Uniting Church are lay people who may be:
- congregational leaders with time and energy to offer their congregation
- retirees with opportunity to serve their local church and community
- people with specific experience and gifts for serving particular congregations at a particular time.
The role of a Community Minister is local and designated. Community Ministers are lay people, they are not ordained. Their ministry is established for a recognised group of people and reviewed every two years. There is no time limit on the placement, but it is understood that it should lead to something such as development of a conventional congregation with an ordained Minister of the Word , often in the congregation or community in which they live.]
Paul comments on a growing relationship between a Uniting Church congregation and a Roman Catholic priest: ” We are enjoying similar sharing with a covenant signed in the Stanley River area between the Anglican, Uniting, Catholic, Lutheran churches where there is a great deal of cooperation, shared worship and socialising. It has led to wonderful tolerances and understandings.”
In the Dayboro area, the five churches have formed a committee called the Dayboro Christians and have been sustained for five years in very close cooperation worshipping regularly together, having a combined choir, and organising three or more major public events together. They have managed to give the community a good image of solidarity. We even encourage people to worship in each other’s churches if the timing suits them. The 2005 Combined Churches Carols in the Park brought 300 people together to experience contemporary Christmas worship and singing. There is a great deal of discussion such as shared Alpha program, etc and now are working together to make 2006 a focus on youth through music/band concerts targeting all the young people of the district together.
Paul also sent us some news about ecumenical developments in Mt Mee, where he has been working to develop a close relationship between the Uniting and Anglican congregations. The two congregations have been using a building that was built by the Methodist Church 84 years ago and gifted to the community. Currently, the mixed congregation made up of Uniting, Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran people are exploring ways in which they might share ministry in the area.
“We are seeing many hundreds of people in our church because of frequent weddings and baptisms. There are 26 Anglican Eucharist services a year and I am conducting 30 services of worship (other than weddings) a year. My services are communion on fifth Sundays and “Prayer, Praise, and Peace” services of meditation on 1st and 2nd Wednesdays. These have begun and have attracted much interest and an ecumenical audience. The latter commenced in September [ie., 2005] and are meditation and reflection moments open to the wider church, especially our presbytery and neighbouring congregations of all churches.
We are wanting to share our wonderful setting and peaceful place with others and
provide an “escape” from the busy urban life that many experience.
I have no official role in the Anglican Eucharist but frequently read the Scriptures in the Service.
We don’t have a formal agreement on the worship usage of our church by the Anglicans but there are minuted decisions in the records which have been kept for 83 years and are available.
At one stage the Catholics were saying mass every Sunday here. It depends on the priest at the time. It apparently doesn’t depend on the “rules” of the church always! Once we formalise anything we come up against the problem of the statutes of the churches.
There is a formal agreement on use of the building for special services: based on the original decision that users would be part of the Queensland Churches Together. It is not available for non-Christian ceremonies.
The people are unanimous about us working together as one congregation. We are small and close. We aren’t in a position to support our Synods but the offerings go to the costs of ministry for each of the two ministers. They are deposited in either church’s funds. For me that is Dayboro accounts. It probably forms an important component of the income of the Kilcoy/Woodford Anglican Parish. No part of the latter income is paid to the Uniting Church and I don’t feel it would be wise to ask for it.
Wedding rentals are paying for insurance, cleaning, mowing and building maintenance. The place is kept very well.
Our greatest physical need is for a toilet. The last one (an outhouse!) was lost to the prevailing winds several decades ago. We are obliged to cross the road and use the public ones.
We dream and do drawings of a kitchen, toilet, covered area which would make the place an excellent resource for the church. It is currently used as a day retreat centre by a couple of large congregations each year. Two of our homes complement this usage and it is a wonderful place to retreat to.
I want to increase our witness and usage before negotiating for physical improvements:
Mt Mee is part of the Stanley River Pastoral Council. This has always been the case as a facility, but now, since I have been formally joined to the Council as representing the “Uniting Church at Mt Mee”, I have a role to play on that Council and attend meetings and vote etc.
I think the shared pastoral role needs to be clarified in our Council, but there is no doubt that I am working pastorally with the whole congregation at Mt Mee. I would like to develop some clearer guidelines on this with the priests and ministers in the area.”