“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12.34)
At The Parish of Allora Clifton, this passage began our current exploration of the missional imperative of this theme – Godly hospitality.
So I have been reflecting on a conversation that I had with my parish treasurer recently. Even though our parish’s financial situation has been dire over the last decade, we have always been able to pay the bills because of the generosity of parishioners, other community members and Bush Ministry Fund supporters.
There is so much generosity that goes into keeping our rural parish going, as we seek to grow the kingdom here day by day.
Parishioners bring flowers from their own gardens to decorate the church, buy the communion wine, donate pantry staples for local community members in need, and volunteer their time to assist with a range of ministries and operational tasks.
We are supported by the generosity of locals in the wider community, including a big-hearted contract harvester who is from another denomination. He harvests the parish’s paddocks and only charges us for his diesel. We have two paddocks onsite – one in Allora and one in Clifton – where we variously grow wheat, sorghum, mung beans and barley. If we have a good season, the money raised through selling the crops can cover a third of our parish’s budget.
We are also blessed by our partner church, The Parish of Hervey Bay, whose ongoing support is currently contributing to repainting projects.
And, we are immensely grateful to those who contribute to the Bush Ministry Fund, or “the BMF” as it is widely known. The Bush Ministry Fund solely funds rural ministry in our Diocese, and it is the only fund that financially supports rural ministry in our Diocese. At least 98 per cent of BMF funds go directly to supporting bush ministry in our Diocese – because administrative costs and other overheads are kept to an absolute minimum.
An important part of my ministry as parish priest is connecting with people, including at weddings or funerals, who at some point decided to stop going to church.
When a committed Allora-Clifton parishioner died, I visited her son and daughter-in-law to help prepare for her funeral. During our conversation, the son kept commenting that he hadn’t entered a church in a long time, and joked that he expected the roof to fall in when he gathered for her funeral. I replied that, “It hasn’t fallen in for me yet, so I think you will be ok.” From that point he felt at ease.
Towards the end of the parishioner’s funeral, I said that, “We will see all of you at the pub after the service.” It meant something to her family and friends that I was part of the group of loved ones grieving her loss. Her son subsequently shouted me a beer, later commenting how much he appreciated my care for his mum – I took her communion regularly in her last months at the nursing home – both before and after her death.
Our parish can only afford a full-time priest because of the Bush Ministry Fund, which is overseen by Bishop Cam Venables in our Western Region. So thanks to the generosity of BMF supporters, the Kingdom of God continues to be made a reality here.
God’s entire kingdom runs on generosity, which began with God’s generosity – with the Father sending the Son, the Son giving up his life that we might live, and the Son giving us his Spirit.
Editor’s note: The Bush Ministry Fund money boxes are a fun and easy way for individuals, families, parishes and schools to donate to bush ministry in our Diocese. Order your BMF money box today by emailing Helen Briffa in the Western Region office via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07 4639 1875.