The parish of Barcaldine in central QLD hasn’t had a minister for 25 years, instead, it’s been run by lay people, but there has been very little or no growth in the parish, and the people are wearing out a bit. But all that is about to change.
In a partnership between Bishop David Robinson of the Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton and Bush Church Aid, Graeme Liersch and his wife Susan have been appointed to go to Longreach and Barcaldine and equip the laity to do more of the ministry themselves.
Many churches in central Queensland do not have a minister, often because during a drought, cash flow is low and there’s not enough money to employ a parish priest.
In an interview with the ABC, Bishop Robinson said it was important for the church to change with the times. “[This ministry] is growing out of the recognition that ministry in the more isolated regions of Australia is getting increasingly difficult, both to attract people to work in those regions and also because of the decline in rural economies.”
Graeme and Susan have recently moved from the NSW Riverina (where Graeme also sought to train people to do the ministry themselves) to Longreach in central Queensland to spearhead a new program aimed at training church members in self-service ministry.
Graeme has taken up a role as mission facilitator and trainer, and will soon begin training churchgoers in the Longreach-Barcaldine region to minister to themselves.
Graeme hopes that his work will emulate the work of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, saying, “in Acts, Paul went to places for three years at a time, roughly speaking, and would equip people to do the ministry and then move on.
In Barcaldine, the parish members are keen to keep doing the work, they just want to be better equipped to do it. Graeme says, “I want to equip the saints to do the work themselves.”
Graeme isn’t hoping to appoint priests for every parish in central Queensland, rather, in time he hopes to see “people in parishes who are there doing ministry, not necessarily in the traditional way, but doing it where people are growing in Christ and feeling equipped and confident to talk about Jesus themselves.”