Southern Zone Rally – NSW

The theme for the 2019 Southern Zone Rally was Who Am I? hosted by St Stephen’s Church Women’s Fellowship, Culcairn, in the Uniting Church, 56 participants attending.

President Betty Scheetz opened proceedings and introduced Pastor Kees Sturm, who based his devotion on the theme. Our identity in Christ is set out in St Peter’s letter to the churches in 1 Peter 1:1–25. Pastor Kees opened his message with the worldly, earthly names that describe us, like Australian; our surname; nurse; mother; student, etc. These labels identify us and are the way people relate to us, but names and jobs do not define us in this world – Jesus does!

Pastor asked, “Who Are We?” We are baptised children of God! Our name is carved for life in his hand, carved by the Father and Jesus Christ. Through trials and testing we are refined by his love for our benefit; made more valuable than anything else on earth. We can then let go of earthly things and concentrate more on him and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. This is what we see in Christ Jesus and our future is safe in him because we are children of God.

Councillor, Terry Western spoke to the group about “who we are” in relation to the Greater Hume Shire. A Mr Balfour, originally from Kiltearn, Scotland, set aside land for building the school in Culcairn; there are heritage-listed buildings in the town; many progressive attributes such as the hospital, schools and a skate park; and we are perched on an oasis of the water basin. All of which add to who we are.

Throughout the day, group singing was accompanied by pianist, Joyce Gardiner and “songbirds” from the Culcairn Lutheran ladies. The song Who you say I am, with Debbie Soncum as lead singer, was especially enjoyed.

Jeannie Kenney read: An Email from the Heart of God, which further emphasised how precious and priceless we are to God.

Jeannie then introduced Clarice Mangelsdorf and Jenny Jacob, from the Kairos Outside Prison Ministry. Claricepresented some sobering statistics about the effects on 25,000 people currently in prison, and the flow-on effects for 100,000 people directly related to the prisoners. Kairos comes from a Greek word related to “time” and was born from God’s Word, I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25:36b (NRSV).

Kairos began 20 years ago in Australia with three outreach programs: Kairos Inside; Kairos Torch for Adolescents and Kairos Outside. Jenny explained how Kairos Outside reaches out to women who have been impacted by family incarceration, allowing them to feel the love of Christ, his forgiveness, hope, confidence, and to know that they are worthy of God’s love and freedom. They see God’s love in action and become changed people.

Charmain Lieschke, President of LWNSW, encouraged all who have input for Lutheran Aged Care, Albury, who is celebrating its 60th year, would be welcome. Charmain spoke briefly about attending the National Conference, with the projected theme Faith Future.

Jane Franke from The Open Door Bookshop in Temora delivered reviews of two books of short stories. Once again, Jane had a wonderful and much appreciated display of books, gifts and cards for purchasing.

This is the monument at Mt Nebo, where Moses saw the promised land and where he died.

Bev MacFarland, guest speaker for the afternoon, spoke about her passion for the Holy Land, showing slides and relating wonderful stories of her recent travels there. The historic and biblical places have all been continuously inhabited for 10 000 years.

The offering of just over $1000 was divided evenly between ALWS and Kairos.

Elaine Scholz thanked Culcairn for their generous hospitality and invited us all to Henty next year.

Pastor Gary Kenney prayed, blessing the Kairos Ministry and the people who do amazing work in Jesus’ name. He concluded with Psalm139, summing up the day’s theme of Who Am I? He said, Lord you are familiar with all my ways … Search me, God, and know my heart.

Rona Stoll

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