Weekly Update #3

A message from Gary

We have been prevented from gathering together as a faith community for a few weeks now. We have had to celebrate Easter apart, not just as a Church, but in many cases from our families and friends. Around us the prevailing narrative is one of fear and panic and hopelessness. We are witnessing the worst and the best of society.

As the days and weeks grow where we continue to be confined to our homes we can really feel isolated and cut off from the world. Please take care of yourselves, as you continue to be the loving and caring community of South Woden Uniting Church. For although many when thinking of the Church may only see a building. We at South Woden Uniting Church understand that a Church building does not provide the biblical definition for what a Church is. We are the Church. So in this time of isolation let us continue to be the Church for one another and those around us by doing whatever we can to bring God’s love, peace, and comfort to those that need it most.

I hope you find the poem below by Brother Richard Hendrick from Ireland called “Isolation” uplifting and encouraging. In it he touches on some of our fears. But also the best qualities we are seeing in people at the moment, and some of the blessings we are witnessing because of the situation we find ourselves in. I hope you enjoy it.

Peace and Blessings



Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.


They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,


By Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan

A Message from the Chair of Council

 The Church Council met on Tuesday to consider an approach by Synod and Presbytery in relation to the current Covid-19 crisis.  We are a part of the wider church community and it is important that we considered carefully our response to such initiatives and our role in decisions undertaken in the name of the Uniting Church.  Bear with me while I give you some context and explanation.

The Synod Standing Committee established a Covid-19 Response Working Group after meeting in early April.  The main concern of Synod is to:‘support and encourage the mission of the church through these times’

Extensive work was undertaken to develop a:‘Corvid-19 Crisis Management Support Framework to enable and ensure that decisions are made from a whole of church perspective with an explicit commitment to the Synod Mission Plan and the growth commitment make by Synod 2019’.

All congregations have been asked to provide information about their current and anticipated financial circumstances in order for the church to offer support where mission and operations may be affected, and to better understand the financial position of the church as a whole.

Extensive information has also been provided about Government programmes of assistance with advice on how to apply.  All churches and presbyteries have been encouraged and guided to examine their cash flow, financial commitments and assets carefully with a view to ensuring good financial management and governance. Various financial scenarios have been explained with clearly described responses. In particular, where churches and presbyteries have employed staff, ministers and others, there are clear directions on how to proceed during a financial downturn.

So, what does this mean for South Woden?  We have been asked to provide information about our financial circumstances and as part of the broader church we will comply with this request.  We are a relatively small congregation with few large commitments.  We are fortunate to have a steady cash flow from direct debits, and the short fall in plate offerings has coincided with an improvement in rent from a government assistance program for asylum seekers for the manse. We have modest but reasonable reserves.  We will also benefit from a grant for registered charities and non-profits in coming months as a result of the federal government’s financial response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Gary has reported to the Council from his discussions with ministerial colleagues that there is strong support for and confidence in the approach being undertaken by the Synod leadership, in particular Rev Simon Hansford as Moderator and Rev Jane Fry as General Secretary. As well, Gary is a member of the Presbytery’s Standing Committee that will act on its and our behalf in this process.

I hope you find this information useful.  Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the council if you have any questions or comments.  And if you would like to review the Framework or other documents that have been sent, please just let us know.  At this stage we will not put them on the webpage.

Continue to keep safe and connected.

Stephen Brand

Chair, Church Council

From the Carers

Our congregation will have received Stephen’s email of 31 March 2020 forwarding the message from Rev Chris Lockley, St James UC, in which Chris advised that St James had been approached by the Canberra Relief Network to be one of the distribution centres for food hampers to be assembled and given to families experiencing disadvantage due to COVID 19.

This is an excellent community contribution.  We may be able to assist electronically with coordination of some emergency assistance to people in our own Parish.  We may be able to arrange for someone who, for example, could do a run to collect medication from a chemist, arrange a shop delivery on line or do a small amount of shopping of essential items.  There may be some people in our parish who are not able to be assisted by members of their family or friends.

The section in that email, ‘How you can help’, needs to be read very carefully with particular reference to the Government’s advice that people over 70, or with underlying illnesses, should stay at home.  I have checked the church phone book and there are very few people in our congregation who are not in that category, or who are not already heavily committed with home schooling and managing two jobs.

However, if you know of anyone who could volunteer some occasional assistance to our parish as outlined above, would you please let me know and I’ll coordinate on behalf of SWUC.  If you know of anyone who is not a member of our congregation and who might be able to volunteer, could you please send their contact details to me or to Gary.

If you know of anyone in our parish who needs assistance in this way, please contact Gary or me and we will try to arrange.  Carers will mail this message to some of our people who do not use email.

If you know of anyone who needs assistance from Canberra Relief Network, they can register at 1800 431133 or 5104 9599, as given in Chris’s letter.

Take care – Helen F [for the Carers’ Group ] and Gary.’

[Helen F – 0439 864008, or fairbrother@grapevine.com.au].

 A Virtual Morning Tea

The focus of our Sunday meetings has been the Worship Service. The opportunity to get together to talk, laugh, comfort and share after Services has been an integral part of our community life. We can’t hug and shake hands in person at the moment, but there is an opportunity to do so through technology. You will – or may have already – received an invitation to take part in a ‘virtual’ morning tea at 11 AM on Sunday 19 April. If you haven’t received an invitation through email, or are having problems setting it up, contact John Schmidt at mailto:jjjs@iinet.net.au or on 02 6292 0997.  This is our first attempt: it may not go smoothly, but we will get there.

 INFO – April/May

You’ve probably received the latest INFO either by email or special delivery (thank you, Postman Ray). It is also located on the webpage at https://southwoden.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/info-apr-may-2020.pdf

You can also check out back issues as far back as December 2014/January 2015.

Worship Spaces at Home.

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Dalma’s worship space with an Aboriginal plate, Mexican Cross, PNG candle holder, a rose from her garden and a card from Spanish artist Casotz 1296: Christ’s body taken down from the cross by Joseph of Aramathea.



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And the worship space set up for Easter Sunday by Gary (as seen on TV).








And from Iris







And Trish and David






And while still thinking of Easter[1]


A Reminder – Virtual Dinner Parties for 6

 Our newly appointed social committee have organised the next ‘mustn’t miss’ function, following on the success of the car rally and the games night. Wendy, John, Gary, Mary-anne, Len and Sue have organised a “Virtual Dinner Parties for 6” on Friday April 24 at 7pm.

A dinner party where no-one has to leave home and you don’t need a designated driver. We will link up dinner parties of 6, using the Zoom platform. If you want to join one of these parties, email John Schmidt on jjjs@iinet.net.au

If you are a Zoom subscriber and are happy to host a party on the night, let John know. He can also assist those who are hosting with technical issues to do with security using Zoom. The app is free to download, unless you are wanting to host a meeting for >40 minutes at a time. Any questions to John.

We’ve had a trial run. It works and it was fun.  Sue Baglow


Weekly Updates

If you have any contribution you’d like to make to the Weekly Update, please email to secretary.swuc@gmail.com.

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Brendan has written in Psalms in the South that “The Crystal Ball drafted a month or so ago was not much use to people who are now so ‘distanced’. Like so many of our best-laid plans, it’s in the bin.  Several beautiful poems and songs are coming up for the set psalms. Regrettably, singing together is largely out of reach at present. Selections have been modified accordingly.” Check out the revised crystal ball at https://psalmsinthesouth.net/2020/04/13/april-after-easter-to-may-2020/

A walk in nature (observing social quarantining distances!)

Good Friday – a need to experience the rejuvenating effect of being outside in open spaces.  The walk around Cooleman Ridge provided a lovely, uplifting moment.


A tale of COVID from one of ours

COVID-19 has imposed social isolation on all of us, but the impact of the virus is greater for many. One such instance involves Brian Stewart, who has agreed to share this (edited) story of their experience.

Brian’s son, his wife and their 2 year old son were booked to come home from the US to Canberra with Qantas on 20 May for work reasons.  When COVID-19 blew up, they started to bring it all forward.  Qantas then cancelled flights with effect from the day before the earliest possible day for the uplift of their effects. Given that they were coming home anyway, the consensus view in all the families was do it as soon as possible.  So they purchased another ticket on Virgin for a few days after.  Their application for a standard visa waiver for the US grandson was declined – subsequently granted but only after a stressful delay of several  days.

The self-contained downstairs area of Brian’s house was going to be their quarantine area for two weeks, but the National Cabinet put paid to that just hours before they departed.

Brian’s son and his family finally touched down safely in Sydney on 29 March, a day ahead of schedule – but not soon enough to avoid forced hotel quarantine.  Despite some concerns about whether the accommodation that was provided was going to be suitable for their circumstances, at least they were back in the country.

As it turned out, the hotel room in Sydney that Brian’s son and his family were given for their mandatory quarantine was unsuitable (one room, no opening window, toddler sleeping in a cot in the bathroom). There was a lot of distress for everyone, despite the best endeavours of the hotel, who even sent up helium balloons for the toddler, and did their best to cater to his dietary restrictions. The medical staff were pretty good, too.  The good news is that as of 6 April they are now in quarantine downstairs in their self-contained flat in Canberra, with access to an enclosed yard.  They are spending their second week of quarantine here in self-isolation.

Under the NSW policy, there are a limited number of criteria for exemptions which allow for self-quarantine at home, provided the quarantine plan is deemed satisfactory including transport from the hotel to home. Their exemption came through on Sunday morning. Brian and another family member had to drive two cars to Sydney on Sunday so that the three of them could drive one home with their nine pieces of luggage and install themselves downstairs without contacting anyone. This is a much better arrangement for Brian’s grandson, as there’s much more room, and a fenced-off yard for him to run around in.

So he is now much happier, and so are the rest of the family. As Brian says, “We give further thanks for that.  Praise the Lord and pass the Bin 389.  Nine days down and five to go.  But it’s not all good news, as we’re certain that there are other people and families in similar or worse predicaments.  Yes, quarantine is important, but given the short lead-time between the decision and implementation of mandatory quarantine, and the large numbers to be accommodated, there was no time and no attempt to find suitable accommodation for those with special needs.  So our relief is tempered by our concerns and prayers for families, the elderly, those with disabilities, and others with special needs who are still enduring unsuitable conditions.”

A Message from our friends at Lalgadh Hospital

This message from Graeme and Meena was included in the last edition of INFO. The full Newsletter is at this link: The COVID-19 and Leprosy Battle – Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital, Nepal – April2020

Greetings from locked-down Nepal! 

We really hope, trust and pray you are all managing OK  – whether in social isolation or lockdown or quarantine… or if you have been hit by that wicked virus that your symptoms are unnoticeable or very mild and with speedy recovery. We also hope that the you are sharing ways of transcending any stress of isolation, and we especially think of and pray for dear friends who may be fearful and those in age-care facilities at this time.

Here, although Nepal is on national lock-down – our hospital is also an essential service. The government – desperately unready to face the COVID-19 situation – has asked us to run both a quarantine service, and also a COVID-patient treatment facility in our Isolation Ward. And of course we are running emergency services too… and continuing the battle with leprosy. Very busy.

Concerning our battle against both COVID-19 and leprosy – here attached is our little Newsletter… mostly pictorial.

Heartfelt thanks for your years of faithful support – love, prayers, funds, and encouragement. Please continue to lift up the work and mission outreach here at Lalgadh Hospital, to God’s amazing throne of Grace. You are in our prayers too.

Warmest wishes and thanks to you all from all the team here, love from Meena and me, and God bless and keep you all safe.

Graeme & Meena


This information may be useful if you are aware of anyone who might need support. Beyond Blue has established a new, dedicated coronavirus mental wellbeing support service, which will play a role in supporting all Australians through this challenging period.

This free service is funded by the Australian Government and is available around the clock to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians throughout the pandemic.  See more at this link: Beyond Blue


As noted in previous Weekly Updates, those who usually contributed to the plate during offering may make either a regular contribution by direct debit, a one-off to our bank account or by cheque. Details are in the Members page at this link: https://southwoden.wordpress.com/members/, which is password protected.

Reading a lot? Some suggestions

Thanks to Lyn Greenfield for this little gem from Maks Viktor Antiquarian Books[2]

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And in case you can’t read all the titles, from top left: The English Patient…Had… Caught…IT…On The Beach…I Should Have Stayed Home…She Said…Now…She Was…   In Quarantine…In The Dark…House of Splendid Isolation…Still…Hope Springs Eternal… With a Little Bit of Luck…Common Sense…And…Personal Hygiene…The Corona Book of Horror Stories…Must End Soon…Always Remember…Clean Hands Save Lives…And… When In Doubt…Don’t…Go…Out.”

 A ‘downloadable’ Version

A pdf version of this update is at Weekly Update #3

To Conclude – A Note of Thanks

Your Council, led by Stephen Brand, has continued to work to keep the SWUC community connected a ready for post-COVID. In addition to Stephen, two members have put in significant effort worthy of acknowledgement: Gary for the preparation and delivery of online Worship Services and John Schmidt, who in addition to his Treasurer duties has enthusiastically pursued ways of connecting us electronically.




[1] Cartoon by Johannes Leak, The Weekend Australian, 11-12 April 2020.

[2] https://www.facebook.com/maksviktorantiquarian/

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