Q&A with ABM volunteer, Honorary Lay Minister and mum, Sarah Gover

Spotlight Q&A

Meet recently appointed Honorary Lay Minister for Parish Development in the Northern Region, Sarah Gover, and find out about her new role, community development and mission work, and about her faith journey and how her love of God inspires her

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Sarah is wife of Dave, and mother to three young adult sons. They attend North Pine Anglican Church where Dave is the Priest’s Warden, and Sarah is a Synod representative. This term, Sarah is helping out North Pine Anglican Church’s Mainly Music programme and is helping to start up a kids’ lunch time Bible Club at the local state primary school. Sarah enjoys travelling and the fast and furious banter that happens when all her family is home.

Where do you currently live and where do you worship?

I live in Carseldine and gather with the 9am congregation at North Pine Anglican Church in Petrie. We are currently at the end of a well-used, energising one-year interregnum and are now looking forward to welcoming our new parish priest in early March.

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

I was baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Rangiora, New Zealand. Since then I have been a part of the Anglican Church in various parts of New Zealand, America, Kenya, Rwanda, and Gippsland, including working as a youth worker for the Diocese of Nelson NZ, and as a Community Development Officer in the Diocese of Gippsland. Four years ago I moved to Brisbane and worked as an educator for the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) for a year. Since then I have been a member of the Diocesan ABM committee.

Churchie Year 6 students presenting their research findings after being inspired by a talk from ABM in November 2019

What are your current roles and what do your roles involve?

I have just been appointed as an Honorary Lay Minister, Parish Development in the Northern Region. It means I am available to work with parishes on all kinds of ‘stuff’ from connecting with their communities, to developing and strengthening their mission partnerships.

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

I have been implementing recommendations of a scenario-based research project at St Paul’s School in Bald Hills. The project expanded a piece of research conducted by the school to include a parent perspective on the educational transformation happening in Australia.

What have been the highlights of your roles so far?

Last year I had the privilege of spending time in Gayndah supporting the parish as they strengthened a relationship they had with the Solomon Islands. I had been living in the city for three years and until I started visiting Gayndah, I hadn’t realised how much I missed the country and rural people.

What have been the key challenges of your roles so far?

One of the biggest challenges I have had is using the skills and experienced I have gained in other Dioceses to benefit the Church. As a community development worker in Gippsland, I had the privilege to help parishes establish many projects, including preschool music programmes; Gunaikurnai language and culture sharing initiatives; youth mental health programmes; a community meal; and emergency food programmes; no-interest loan schemes; schoolies to Africa; and, a men’s parenting programme in a local prison. When I moved to Brisbane, I realised that there were no paid vacancies, so I began to volunteer for Bishop Jeremy Greaves in the Northern Region.

What are your plans and goals for the next 12 months?

To engage with two or three new parishes, to learn about their communities, to see what assets the parishes have and to walk with the parish, as we see what interesting opportunities and possibilities God has planned for them and their communities.

(L-R): Marilyn Oulds, Sarah Gover and Roxanne Doyle (QCWA Branch President) checking a pattern for a competition at a QCWA craft meeting in Sandgate in September 2019

Can you tell us a little about your personal faith journey?

My faith journey has been one of following God’s call, knowing that wherever I am I will always be able to find ‘family’. After two years studying in America I was disillusioned by ‘church’ stuff and ended up in Kenya, where I was gently loved back to faith by Church family in Nairobi.

On the ABM Youth Ambassadors trip to Vanuatu January 2017 in Sola, in the Diocese of Banks and Torres, with (L-R): Vivienne For, Communications Officer ABM; Sarah Crisp; The Right Rev’d Patterson Alfred Worek, Melissa Scheuch, Ash-Lee Lund and Sarah Gover

How does your faith inspire you and shape your outlook, life choices and character?

My faith allows me to take risks, because I know I am loved by God and I am assured of salvation.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

I love the idea of flying like an eagle, of endless energy and determination, but Isaiah 40.31 reminds me that first I must wait. I am often tempted to run into a situation headfirst, and this verse prompts me to first wait, to listen.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

Bishop John McIntyre, my manager for five years in Gippsland, was a humble man, with an inner strength that he willingly shared with others. He showed me how Christ loved, without barriers, or discrimination.

What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our communities?

I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. I see the Church as an anchor – a place of claim, reassurance and hope.

What are the primary challenges currently encountered by the Church and what is the best way to overcome these for the benefit of our communities?

I think one of the biggest challenges we face is to share the love and care of Christ in a way that people can hear and accept. Too many of the words and actions we would traditionally use have been tarnished by the horrific actions of past church members. I think it will take, grace, humility, and a lot of love to rebuild many peoples’ ability to trust and accept us, Christ’s church.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

In Gippsland my parish priest wanted me to help with our preschool music programme and other ministries, but I was running out of time, working full time and being Mum to three active sons. His wife, however, had a fantastic gift. She enjoyed ironing and she offered to iron our family shirt mountain each week. Best gift ever!! I was able to gift the time I would have spent ironing to help around our parish.

“This term, I am helping out North Pine Anglican Church’s Mainly Music programme”: Sarah Gover with Melissa Eisenmenger and Sophie having fun at Mainly Music on Friday 21 February.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

I completed my Masters in Economic and Community Development at Eastern University in Philadelphia. On my first day, the Kiwi Chaplain gave me a piece of advice that has been extremely helpful and on more than one occasion has saved my life. The advice was “The steering wheel goes in the middle of the road!”

What book have you given away most as a gift and why?

Peter Jordan’s Re-Entry Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home. I have led a number of short-term mission trips and schoolies experiences and have found this book excellent in helping team members to think about cultural preparation both before and when they return from a trip.

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

I go for a walk and catch imaginary creatures such as Pokémon and Harry Potter ‘confoundables’ on my phone.

Where do you do your best thinking?

By the side of Lake Muhazi in Rwanda, but I don’t get there very often.

If you found yourself on a deserted island, what three things would you choose to have with you?

I would have to take four items – my husband and three sons – and don’t ask me to choose between the sons!!

(Back L-R) Simeon, husband Dave, Matthew, James and Sarah Gover outside their Carseldine home in July 2017: “The photo is being taken for the grandparents, who were complaining they hadn’t seen one for a while.”

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