St John's Bungaree 150th - Celebration Eucharist


It was a great day of celebrations at Saint John's Anglican church in Bungaree this morning.

This small rural community has been faithfully witnessing to the Gospel on this site for 150 years:  a significant time in the recent (PI) history of Australia. Some present today could trace their lineage back to the original founders. The church building is unique in this part of the Ballaarat Diocese in that the building and plant have been maintained by the same few families since the original Bluestone church was built. 

I remember well the first service I lead at Bungaree: it was one of the Christmas Carol services for which the church is famous in the local community.  Fr Turnbull, the then incumbent, was suddenly hospitalised with an acute gallbladder attack: "it's all done for you, just read from the running sheet and say a few words at the end" was his plea from his hospital bed.  I arrived at Bungaree - a very hot December evening - cassock, hood and preaching scarf in hand  - and instantly fell in love with the people and their ministry. Over the next decade I had the privilege of exercising a more intentional  ministry.

I must disclose, not a secret for it is well known, but a Bungaree conspiracy supporting of one of my weaknesses. I love 'Jelly Slice' !!! 

Whenever I am at Bungaree, in whatever capacity, there is  always a plate of Jelly Slice in the fridge with my name on it.  

Today, even though I had been unable to confirm my attendance, the Jelly Slice was there, in the fridge with a post-it-note with my name on it, waiting for me.....

In his homily this morning, Bishop Garry spoke about the Prologue in the Gospel of John (the gospel reading for the day) being the 'big picture' - he recalled as a teenager seeing the first pictures of the Earth from the Moon, further reflecting on beyond the big picture of creation and our current healthy concern with the effects of Climate Change, to say that God is also interested in what we do individually in small communities, such as Bungaree, in celebrating incarnational faith (those are my words not the Bishop's, but that's what he meant). 

I am reminded of the stories of the Widow’s Mite; the Centurion’s Servant; the boy with his five loaves and two fish - all low-key events in their local context but transformational events that still speak to us two millennia later. 

Like most 'Cradle Christians' of my era with a theological degree earned after post graduate studies in our vocational fields, we find ourselves on a  'sine curve'  journey - oscillating between conviction and doubt.

A combination this morning of the Bishop's words and the home-coming welcome of the Bungaree community has placed me at the top of the curve.

Celebration, with reflection leading to action,  is a good thing.