Since the start of last week I've been in Queensland, interviewing congregational leaders, lay and ordained, about Christian education and discipleship. This has included a 'church plant' in association with a church school, a revitalised suburban congregation, two churches in Townsville - one a long-time charismatic congregation, the other more 'mainstream' but seeking to be renewed, and an aboriginal community in Mapoon, far north Queensland. Diverse, rich, stimulating conversations, with a host of insights for other churches. I was fortunate to get an afternoon at Rowes Bay north of Townsille, where there were a couple of dozen kite surfers putting on a spectacular show for passers-by.
A particular highlight has been the chance to spend a few days in Mapoon on the west of Cape York north of Weipa - talking with James Hughes and Michelle Cook who share ministry in the area. Michelle is the minister in Mapoon, an aboriginal community of a couple of hundred people, and James works as a youth worker across Mapoon, Naprunum, Weipa, etc. The manse is right next to the beach so we went fishing - didnt catch anything but got given a huge 'Queenie'.
I learned about life and ministry in these communities. We sat with Saimoni, the minister at Naprunum, where they were planning forthcoming visits from a church in Brisbane and a school in Tasmania. Visits by young people from other places and by the local youth to other places have been a significant dimension of youth ministry here. [Photo below: meeting in Saimoni's church office]
Lots of things to reflect on in terms of connections between gospel and culture, forming indigenous leaders, ministry as living within a community, the place of Scripture and Spirit in discipling, and the challenges facing indigenous people in Australia. I'm sorry to be leaving so soon.