We acknowledge the original custodians, the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin alliance, of the land on which our buildings of worship stand and on which we gather.
& THE COMING WEEK
Do you feel comfortable about this?
This story of one asylum seeker is replicated among many of the 30,000 who came to Australia by smugglers’ boats during the period 2000-2014 and now reside here in limbo.
This writer’s friendship with “Jacob” began seven years ago. Hobsons Bay Refugee Network organized a picnic for asylum seekers in an Altona park.
Marg and I warmed to Jacob’s keen desire to adapt to Australia and to work here. We learned that he had escaped under threat of hanging from the theocratic regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran.
Jacob and his wife fled Teheran at short notice, and flew to Jakarta. There they waited 60 days, hiding in a forest until the people smugglers ordered them on to a small fishing boat with 114 others.
Drifting in the Indian Ocean and rescued by the Australian Navy, they were detained at Christmas Island followed by Leonora Detention Centre, WA then released into the community at Werribee.
He has gained driving licences, and now he is working six days a week driving prime movers and semi-trailer trucks, but his status as an asylum seeker is not recognised. In 2019 he applied for renewal of his Temporary Protection Visa (TPV), and received a letter of acknowledgment from the Australian Government, but his TPV has not been renewed. He has joined a class action mounted by Maurice Blackburn lawyers demanding a just outcome. Pray for and write to the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, and the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, that their hard hearts may be changed, and our 30,000 asylum seekers may be justly granted permanent resident status.
Guest preacher: Rev. Ian Pearse
Ian says “It was a nice surprise when your minister Annetia invited me to preach while she is on vacation. I send greeting to my Werribee friends”. During the past year 2020, Ian supplied on line preaching with Macedon Ranges Uniting Cluster. He and his wife bought a new caravan, hoping to travel in Australia, and they began with Portland, Victoria. However their plans were changed by the onset of Covid19 pandemic. “I hope we will be able to travel after the New Year to Perth, Western Australia to visit my sister, depending on the future outcomes of Covid 19 in our two states”, he says.
Ian lives in Maddingley, Bacchus Marsh, overlooking the old brown coal mine. I asked him how Bacchus Marsh people would be affected by the State Government’s plan to dump PFAS contaminated soil from the Westgate Tunnel project in the old mine site. He replied, “Local residents are concerned that toxicity may leach into the nearby creek which feeds into the Werribee River. Market gardens are supplied by water from the river. It’s good that a Supreme Court injunction is preventing the Government from going ahead”. (NT)
Werribee’s link with the Coniston Massacres
Another Australia Day looms, revisiting the white problem of dispossession and genocide of the indigenous people of this country.
Travis McHarg’s recent book Murderers and Missionaries – Central Australia is a timely reminder of why many Australians question Australia Day jingoism, and turn to a truth-telling Invasion Day of mourning.
Aboriginal Australians are justly frustrated at years of inaction by the federal Government to respond to calls (see the Uluru Statement) for a Voice to Parliament, constitutional recognition and a treaty.
Athol McGregor in 1925 (Uniting Church Archives)
A remarkable chapter in McHarg’s book tells of Methodist minister the Rev. Athol McGregor (1902–1979) who itinerated for the Federal Inland Methodist Mission (FMIM) in Central Australia 1927–28. Older members of Crossroads may remember Athol’s ministry in later years at Werribee Methodist Church.
McGregor welcomed Derek and Joan Humphrey to the congregation when they arrived as new migrants off the boat in 1964.
McHarg relates in detail how McGregor (“a champion of the cause of his black-skinned brethren”—A.W. Pederick) questioned the widespread culture of exploitation of lubras around Alice Springs by white men. McGregor was prepared to tackle senior administrators over their inaction and lack of care of the Aboriginal people for whom they were supposedly responsible.
He wrote letters to the FMIM, Methodist Spectator and the Minister for Home and Territories. He questioned the whitewash of the enquiry into the Coniston massacres of 17 aborigines by Mounted Constable Murray, and gave evidence at that enquiry.
McGregor “married in 1928 in Darwin, and brought his new wife to the basic corrugated iron home in Katherine which he had built at his own expense, which reduced her to tears” (McHarg, 195)
McGregor left the Northern Territory in 1931, after ministry at Darwin Methodist church.
After McGregor’s death in 1979 (his supernumerary years were in Healesville) his love for the Aboriginal people was acknowledged by the Rev. Roy Westaway (Church and Nation, 7 November 1979.)
Worship Plan for this coming week
I Samuel 3:1–10, (11–20); I Corinthians 6:12–20; John 1:43–51; Psalm 139:1–6, 13–18
- Greetings: Wendy B
- Prayers of the People: Annetia G
- Reader: Mary D
- Music: Asanka P
- Flowers: Salote T
Housekeeping & Help
Pastoral care will be maintained during these difficult days but it is subject to the rules regarding access to hospitals and aged care homes.
Please contact Rev. Annetia Goldsmith for any pastoral care needs.
CHURCH OFFICE INFORMATION
The church office is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 12 noon.
Telephone 03 9741 1084. Postal address is PO Box 2156 Werribee 3030.