Day eight saw me cross the river to Mt Lawley for the WA Uniting Church Adult Fellowships day. The men and women of adult fellowships across the congregations come together for morning tea, a celebration with guest speaker (me), highlights of the year, certificates of appreciation for those who turned 80 during the year, lunch and the AGM.
I was a late full-in as speaker, as the planned speaker had to pull out due to work commitments - she asked me on the weekend if I would be available, and I was.
This is really a day of stories, as these older members of the church celebrate and share together the ways they continue to live as followers of Jesus. We heard the story of the host church, and I wondered about the way we tell our story. It may well be that this community are living a story of loss and grief as the size of their community shrinks, and they haven't yet found their way to an alternative story of hope. I do wonder how many of our churches tell the numbers story, though, and ignore the alternative stories of growth (not in numbers, but within people, in relationships beyond the church ...) that might be lived and told instead?
From the adult fellowships there were stories of relationships with the national UCAF, other church and ecumenical fellowship organisations, including one in Bali. These stories, I hope, were encouraging for those gathered, and I hope the story I told from Paul's letter on the body of Christ also encouraged these folk to take their place as important valued members of the body.
I went on to tell The Story of Sarah, who Tells Stories, The Sweet Sound of Grace, and read my poem A Night in the Life of a Bethlehem Inn Keeper. All were well received, and I even had one person ask if I had any collections of poetry published. Not yet, I replied, but soon!
I had lunch with my friend Ali in Heathcote, where we saw a textile exhibition that was full of innovative artworks using many materials in creative ways - tea/coffee bags, metal, plastic, beer pulls to make a giant zip, crocheted flowers ... and more. The one I was most taken with was inspired by a Louis de Bernier book - added to my 'to read' list!
And then I was off to camp. Star Street Uniting Church issued the invitation to me to come to Perth, and now I am finishing the tour with them.
I got us started with stories - The Story of Sarah who Tells Stories, Echidnas on Everest (from Lost Sheep), The Sweet Sound of Grace (edited for the children), Stone Soup, and a Zen tale of two monks and the river crossing.
As I write this, we've survived a wet wet night, some have gone for an early morning walk, we've had breakfast, and are just getting ready for the first of three sessions today.