Friday, 07 August 2020

Capricorn Streaming

Written by Dr Deidre Palmer

It was a joy to be part of a retreat with members of the Central Queensland Presbytery, who gathered at The Haven in Emu Park on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast for their annual retreat from 26-29 July 2020.

The retreat was a time of rest, renewal and reflection on our ministry contexts.

In the case of CQP participants these span the major centres of Gladstone, Mackay and Rockhampton, stretching out to Winton and Longreach in the west; Proserpine and Airlie Beach in the north; and Miriam Vale on the coast to the south.

While sadly, being at the retreat face-to-face was out of the question for me, the Emu Park venue looking out on the islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef looked like a perfect place to contemplate the big questions of ministry in the UCA.

Through the gift of technology and the expertise of members who ensured we could see and hear each other, we were able to be together and share.

The retreat included Pastors, Lay leaders, Ministers of the Word in placement in congregations, Chaplains, Presbytery leaders and partners.

I led four sessions over two days (27-28 July) – in the morning and evening.

Across these sessions we explored how we are shaping our Christian communities; what sustains us in our ministry and journey with Christ; how we embody the reconciling love and hope of Christ; and how we might respond to our present context by participating in God’s mission.

We explored Biblical and theological foundations in each of the sessions, and shared personal stories of life and ministry.

We reflected on the changes we were making in response to the safety measures for COVID-19, and shared ways we were offering pastoral support to people in our communities in this challenging time.

We drew from recent documents that were a collaboration of the President and Moderators: Prayers for this Season, What sustains us, and what we are learning in response to COVID-19.

We also used the Assembly documents: “A Vision for a Just Austraia” and “Build Back Better” to reflect on our participation in God’s mission in the world.

It was an encouraging and energising time.

Acting Presbytery Minister and Blue Care Chaplain Rev. Suzy Sitton summed up the retreat:

“We discussed how we are learning new things about the church and as church. The need for flexibility, new technological adventures, the breadth of the work of the Spirit in creativity, adaptability, in addressing the anxiety and concerns in communities, and the importance of connection and reconnection."

"As we gazed at the beauty of creation around us, we had the space and the desire to give thanks to God. Thank you Deidre for joining us on our journey,” said Suzy. 

Thank you to the Central Queensland Presbytery for inviting me to be part of your retreat.