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Q&A with Cecily Brockhurst, Church Warden at the Parish of Leichhardt

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Cecily Brockhurst, a long-term Church Warden, Liturgical Assistant and mother from Miles in Western Queensland

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Cecily Brockhurst is a stalwart of the Leichhardt-Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area, serving as a Church Warden and Liturgical Assistant for a number of years. She also manages a local community centre, which she sees as part of her broader mission. She shares the joys and challenges of living out west.

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I have been involved in the Anglican Church all my life. I attended Sunday School as a child and was confirmed in Brisbane when I was 12 years old. I taught Sunday School in my teenage years at Pine Rivers Parish in Dayboro, where I grew up. I joined the Parish Council at the then Parish of Miles after I was married in the 1980s. I have been on a Parish Council for 40 years and have been a Church Warden for 20 years at the Parish of Leichhardt. I have been a liturgical assistant for the past 10 years.

What is the name of your current role and what does your role involve?

As the Church Warden, I work with the other parishioners on a local level, as well as with Parish Council and if there are concerns or questions, I approach Bishop Cameron or his assistant Helen Briffa who then assist or provide guidance. While we were without a priest for four years, myself, along with the other Liturgical Assistants, Gillian Rees and Ted Gibbons, led the weekly services to maintain the Anglican presence in Miles.

I am employed full time as the manager of a local community centre and this job ties in with my church volunteer work because the community centre work is about caring for and supporting people in the community, which aligns closely with my work in the church.

What have been the highlights of your role so far?

I would say my role in the Church has been character building, as without a priest, there was a need to comfort and support people when family and friends passed away. I was even sometimes called upon to take the funeral services, which was a privilege and a huge responsibility, as well as extremely stressful at times.

The Rev’d Terry Frewin was appointed our new priest and was commissioned in May this year as Priest of Leichhardt/Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area (LCAMA). The Rev’d Terry and his new wife, Karen, have relocated to Chinchilla from Newcastle, NSW. As parishioners, we appreciate the opportunity to regularly share in the sacrament of Holy Communion, whereas we previously relied on priests who visited intermittently.

St Luke’s Anglican Church parishioners, including Cecily Brockhurst (far fight), sorting clothes for a church fundraiser

What are your plans and goals for the next few years?

We, in the Parish of Leichhardt have been asked to combine once again with another parish – Chinchilla. In my time, this is the third time this has happened. The new area is called the Leichhardt Chinchilla Anglican Mission Area, which Bishop Cameron abbreviated to LCAMA. My plans are to continue to support the local Church’s mission by serving and caring for members of our rural community.

Can you tell us a little about your faith journey?

I have always prayed daily and often wonder how I would survive without faith and hope. I have developed a relationship with the Lord through prayer, reading scripture, and mostly just talking to Him.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

My favourite scripture is “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).” because it says it all. If we don’t have faith and hope, we are lost, and if we don’t have love and forgiveness, life could be very difficult.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

Jesus – of course!

Bishop Cameron and The Rev’d Lizzie Gaitskell have both been an inspiration to me, as I believe they do genuinely understand some of the issues for people in the bush and because I feel comfortable speaking to them about any concerns within the church community. The Rev’d Katherine Hammer inspired and encouraged me to become a Liturgical Assistant by assuring me that I could do it and by taking the time to train me in the role.

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

I don’t have much free time, but when I do have time, I like to spend time with my family over dinner. Reading and gardening are my hobbies. We also support many community events and assist with community fundraising.

What are the current challenges faced by people in Western Queensland and how can the broader Diocese help?

The current challenges facing people in Western Queensland are a shrinking population and, of course, the drought. The broader Diocesan community could visit people in rural communities and take the time to listen to them and provide spiritual care and support and financial assistance.

Why do you enjoy living in the country?

We live in Miles ‘the heart of the Western Downs’ and we are approximately 450km from Brisbane.

My whole life revolves around my family, the Church and the community centre, where I have been working for over 25 years. I grew up in the country and my husband, Owen, comes from the land, so I understand the language and culture of rural people. Owen came from a good Catholic family and we were married in the Anglican Church, which is common these days, but not back then. We have two children, who also live in the country, and we are hoping for grandchildren one day.

We worshiped with local Catholics on a monthly basis while we were without a priest and were invited to share in the Sacrament of Holy Communion with them and we still continue to worship together monthly.

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