Reflection - A story of transformation and community engagement

21 May 2024

Reflection - A story of transformation and community engagement Image

By Delma Lovell, Maryborough

What a vision the three denominations had to unite to become the Uniting Church in Australia. It was not just the denominations that joined together, and each individual church brought with it the programs that formed their missional focus. For some it was Lifeline, for others it was Blue Nurses and for our St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Maryborough, it was our St Stephen’s Hospital. Who would have thought on 22 June 1977 that one day, those programs that were founded by the blood, sweat and tears of the volunteers would one day grow up and leave home to become their own entity under the UnitingCare banner? In our case, this meant the eventual severing of the ties that had been so deeply entwined from one to the other.

In April 2022, our church joined the UnitingCare Connect100+ initiative. We were given an opportunity to rebuild the relationship between the church and the local UnitingCare agencies. In late 2023 a new vision took wings in the form of the Uniting Church Mental Health Forum Maryborough. I invited the agencies to a forum so we could all meet each other and learn about the work we all do in Maryborough.

We found we did not just want to meet regularly; we instead thought it would be great to meet together in the public arena. In October 2023, for Mental Health Week, we had a Uniting presence at the Maryborough Markets with a few tables for our pamphlets, some colouring in for the children and a relaxing area with games and bean bags. This year, we are again ‘Uniting for Mental Health’ in the Maryborough Community, first on 16 and 17 May at the Lifeline Bookfest and next at the Fraser Coast Regional Show on 23 and 24 May. We have dreams for the year for RUOK Day, Mental Health Week, FraserPop, Mary Poppins Festival, Lifeline Out of the Shadows and Into the Light to name a few.

Together, we are reaffirming the Uniting Church mission and vision in Maryborough in a different way. We are not just the church on the corner with the big spire, we are also, UnitingCare FADS, Financial Counselling, Gambling Help, StandBy, Farmer to Lifeline Farmer, Lifeline Crisis Support and Training, BlueCare, Lifeline Retail, Head Space. We are many people who represent the church in vastly different ways, sharing in the lives of the people in our community in their time of need. We are ‘one church of many parts, many places, many people.’ Who knows where the Holy Spirit will lead us next…

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