from Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures
Valentines Day 2021 marked the amalgamation of two of our congregations: St James Uniting Church Curtin and South Woden Uniting Church. The commissioning of the newly formed Woden Valley Uniting Church was the next stage of a journey reaching back at least 4 years since both congregations began planning for the future and discerned a great hope and resonance in facing that future together. It is a journey that continues beyond the joyful commissioning service as foundations for shared mission, worship, pastoral care and finance take shape.
Co-chair of Presbytery, Rev Ross Kingham, presided at the service, and Rev Gary Holdsworth preached his first sermon as minister in placement 50% with Woden Valley Uniting Church. Gary continues to also be minister in placement 50% with Weston Creek Uniting Church.
The service included vows by the members of the new congregation and a welcome by Presbytery. This was followed by gathering coloured pieces of wax from all those present to form a community candle. The officers of the Congregation and the Church Council were publicly recognised, celebrated, and affirmed as they take up their roles in the new Congregation.
Gary’s first sermon included reflection on the double blessing that Elisha asked of Elijah before his ascension in a whirlwind to heaven. In the commissioning of this new congregation there is a double blessing because it is the blessing of St James and South Woden congregations as they come together. Gary also made the most of it being Valentine’s Day, mining it for the depths of commitment that people make to each other, and seeing the commitment that the members were making as a new congregation.
The celebration service was a mountain top experience following a big year of preparations that had to adjust to COVID restrictions to include all of the two congregations in the journey. It was good to be there, and with the service ended that marked the formation of Woden Valley Uniting, it was time to head down from the mountain top to continue to discern, plan and enact what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ in worship, witness and service together as a new congregation.
The worship music filled us with hope of new light streaming in this place as God gathered us in, and we were sent out trusting in God who gives us a future, daring us to go. The two congregations are to be commended for all that they have put in place to reach this point of amalgamation, and as a Presbytery we join together with the Woden Valley Uniting Church in trusting in God’s spirit for the future into which God dares of us to go.