Our Local Community

 

Reflections on UnitingWomen’s Conference 2014

 Earlier in the year I had paid to attend this conference and booked accommodation in Sydney for the weekend, but as the time drew near I started to wonder what I had been thinking when I signed up!  A women’s conference? For a whole weekend?

I am so glad I went!  To be part of such a large enthusiastic group of women of varying ages and backgrounds was a privilege and it was most uplifting!   I hadn’t realised that I belonged to such a large, diverse group. There were 500 women present, and I believe that there were quite a few who missed out on tickets.

The theme was “sharing stories” and it was quite moving to hear the stories of some very strong women who have relied on God through almost impossible situations. Yet, they were seemingly “ordinary” women, and after they had told their stories I was reminded how much can be gained in listening to other people’s stories, and how much can be given by responding to others with acceptance and love, not judgement.

Nadia Bolz-Weber talked about the grace of God being available and freely given to all, not just to those whom we think might be worthy of it. As a church we should be looking at how we can share God’s love with all, not just those who follow our set of rules. I believe that we at Leura are an inclusive group, yet I’m not sure that many people in our community realise it.  While we measure our success as a church by the numbers of people attending our Sunday services, then we are missing the point. Our success at sharing God’s love is measured (if indeed one believes that it needs to be measured.) by how many people have seen God’s love in us.  There are a number of people from our congregation who are active in “outreach” programs such as the Learning Support Centre and Open Hearth, but I feel that these activities are perhaps seen as something extra, not necessarily part of our “real” work as a church.

One point made by Nadia Bolz-Weber was that many people who do not attend church are still quite interested in having a spiritual life, a connection with God. The church, with its rigid rules and some bad history, is not where they are looking to find that connection.  We do not see many phone booths on our streets anymore; does that mean that we are no longer interested in communication?  Are we trying to re-decorate our phone booths to attract people back?

It was a weekend of sharing, singing and praying, it was very moving and thought provoking. I have been prompted to improve my own spiritual life, and this was the main thing I gained from attending.  My thoughts about what we can do as a congregation are secondary to this, especially since many of you are already out there doing things while I am talking about it.

– Liz

 

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Blessed is the only word that describes how I felt after the UnitingWomen’s conference. To be able to hear from so many inspirational women aged from 17 to 90+. We shared tears of sheer delight and depths of sorrow. I suppose I could also say I was challenged, challenged to share my story and my faith with others. The music was a highlight of the weekend. We will try to teach some of these to you in the future

Watch this space! Plans are afoot for UnitingWomen 2016 in Adelaide – probably sometime in May.

– Kathy

 

To me the highlight of the Conference was the scope and connectivity.

It was wonderful to look back and meet old friends – Marjorie, Susie, Meryl, Naomi – from earlier times in our church at Leura; and also Julie, a friend from Girls’ Brigade days.

It was interesting to speak to strangers who looked familiar – and find they were  Peggy’s sister and niece. This brought an even older connection because Peggy’s mother was a very good friend of my favourite aunt.

It was heartening to look forward and see the church carrying on in such capable hands as those of the next generation that organised such a remarkable event so well. It was pleasing to know that some of the organisers (Ellie & Adrian) were nurtured in our church.

Above all, it was great to see and know that our God is present in the world today in so many ways and forms. I found Ellie’s “water” analogy enlightening. Water is the cradle of life – the same water which we see today has been here since the beginning of time and will remain till the end of time. It is in the ground beneath our feet and in the air we breathe. It can come in different forms and can take differing shapes.  Without water we have no life.

The stories at Conference showed me God is a bit like the water.  He has been here from the beginning; He is all around us; and without His presence we have no life. But, He is different for different people – each person finds Him in different places and different ways. And the shape of God (how we perceive Him and worship Him) is different for each of us.

There was such a wide scope of women at the conference – from east & west, from Asia, America, Europe and the Pacific, black and white, rich and poor-  all having a relationship with God – but each relationship different – yet we all accepted and rejoiced in those differences as we worshipped together.

It was an uplifting event and an occasion for rejoicing in the ongoing Christian journey.

                                                                                                                                 – Kerry

 

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UnitingWomens’s Conference 2014….it was a time of great blessing – enjoying close fellowship with the women who attended from Leura .…. experiencing the warmth of gathering with 500 women from different walks of life and culture, learning, chatting and worshipping together ..… being uplifted by worship and music ..… marveling at the ability of mainly younger members of the UC in planning, organising and overseeing such a big event so well ..… feeling gratitude for the generosity of so many volunteers ensuring the smooth running of the event ….. being greatly moved in hearing the inspiring stories shared from the lives of UC sisters – sisters whose lives had been littered with overwhelming struggles and obstacles, but whose faith in a great God had carried – was still carrying them, through. We were entertained by the segments provided by a very amusing, but astute, Julie McCrossin and then we were deeply touched by the story of a young Aboriginal woman who shared her struggles and the fact that she and her young son were about to leave their home in Arnhem Land to answer God’s call to training and ministry in Brisbane – and later on, we witnessed first-hand God working when this same young woman won the ‘lucky door prize’ for a Samsung Notepad!!

And then there was the teaching time with Nadia Bolz-Weber – founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, an ECLA mission church in Denver, Colorado – a somewhat surprising, but inspiring speaker. We heard about Nadia’s Church, a vibrant, inclusive, worshipping Church – but one where there are no committees and few meetings! ‘Being church’ under Nadia’s guidance, involves insightful and immediate response to the needs of the local community. We caught a glimpse of a Church with a very caring pastoral leader, who ministered to, nurtured, and inspired her flock into mission, a mission that was not aimed at ‘maintaining the institution’, but rather, mission that brought life to people.

I came home grateful that the Uniting Church is a Church which values worship, mission and service; and with a firmer desire to see our Church at Leura take a closer look together at the mission opportunities we have on our doorstep, and be inspired to work together to reach out further into our community.

– – Lorraine

Service Times and other Activities

Our regular service is on Sundays at 9.30 am. The first Sunday of every month is a Contemporary Service, the third is a Communion Service. We also have a children’s group, a youth group, a Taize service, a reflective service and various community support activities. Details of services are located under the Services and Activities banner.

Following are links to dedicated pages for some of the Services and Activities
Day Retreats  An opportunity for renewal and refreshment of faith.
Open Hearth  a sharing place to assist all members of the Mountains community.
Pilgrimages   we seek God, and spiritual refreshment, walking in the bush.
Quiet Reflection a guided meditation and reflection on the readings for the week.
Reflection and Expression Retreats  are about creative movement, dance, improvisation and music. They are inspired by being ‘enlivened by the Spirit’.
Taizé Service  renewal through common prayer, singing, silence and personal meditation.