The Rev. Duncan McDiarmid was inducted into his ministry placement in the Eurobodalla Congregations last Sunday. It was a joyous occasion that brought to birth a fully-fledged ministry after a nine-month gestation period.
Duncan had actually moved to Batemans Bay in March, soon after his Ordination as a Deacon took place in his home church in Sydney. Duncan had time to meet his people in person on one Sunday, with an Induction planned for the following Sunday--and then the spread of COVID-19 shut down all personal contact and meant that worship had to go online. Duncan has been leading worship, attending meetings, and offering pastoral care, all online, for many months. Only recently has worship in person recommenced.
In more recent times, as he has been able to begin connecting with people in person, Duncan has become very active in community engagement across the Eurobodalla Shire. 20% of Duncan's placement is funded by contributions for Congregations in Sydney Central Coast Presbytery, and this has seen Duncan participate in a range of community activities, many of which are designed to show the care and support of the church to people who have been badly impacted by the bushfires of the 2019-2020 summer. This is an important ministry--one of a number in our Presbytery--offered by the Uniting Church to bushfire-affected communities.
Presbytery Co-Chairperson Ross Kingham conducted the formal Induction of Duncan into his ministry placement and community chaplaincy, with a Congregation that was meeting in person (and appropriately socially distanced!) in the Batemans Bay church. Daniel Mossfield preached for the occasion, drawing insights for the words of the prophet Jeremiah. That prophet, he said, offers us "a word for our time--a time of exile, of self-isolation, social distancing, and abandonment. We are not going back to normal, today, or tomorrow. The road is going to be longer than we fear, and at times, it might be that we feel that God is not with us on that road. Where is the good news in this? Perhaps God sends the prophet to name the truth of God’s absence—to call for faithfulness as we walk the road, not sensing God with us, just yet. At that moment, we have our pain named, and honoured, and spoken as the truth. Then, once this truth is named, suddenly we discover God working, outside the boundaries we expected, who honours our story through the prophets, who know the need to speak the truth in any situation."
Chairperson of the Church Council (and former Assembly General Secretary) Terence Corkin offered the "official welcome" to Duncan, and the Congregation included former Moderator Niall Reid and his wife Paula. People from the Gordon Congregation were present in person, and friends and colleagues from places distant from Batemans Bay were able to join in online to participate in the service. And so the ministry of the people of Eurobodalla and Deacon Duncan continues ....
Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing