Hope despite church closure

ERA ENDS. Uniting Church cluster co-ordinator, Hazel Radley, left, parishioner David Peace and Presbytery chairperson Judy Causon formally close the church doors.

ERA ENDS. Uniting Church cluster co-ordinator, Hazel Radley, left, parishioner David Peace and Presbytery chairperson Judy Causon formally close the church doors.

THE few remaining members of the Horfield Uniting Church congregation have been challenged to go forward as messengers of hope and bearers of Jesus' light.

Although sad at the closure of their church after over 139 years of ministry and service to the people of the farming community near Cohuna, the congregation was urged to reflect on the human aspect of the church.

The symbols of Christian worship provided the centrepiece of the closing worship service on Sunday and at the conclusion they were taken from the church before the doors were locked.

Uniting Church local cluster co-ordinator, Hazel Radley suggested that those gathered cast aside the sadness of the day for an hour or so and bring to their hearts the thankfulness and the privilege it has been to be part of this worshipping community.

"As you share in the hymns, raise your voices in song and may the words be a blessing to you and may the prayers bring comfort to you," she said.

"The memories of those who have gone before, the journey taken over the years together, the blessings, the sorrows and the joys received by those who have worshipped here are acknowledged.

Mrs Radley said that she hoped the message of reflection of the past and hope for the future would stay with the congregation long after the doors are shut.

Cluster parishioners from Cohuna, Leitchville and Gunbower shared in the service.

Loddon Mallee Presbytery minister, Rev. Gordon Bannon said that the church had been a sacred place, a place of worship and a centre for mission and it still carried the commitment of commitment of those who made the building possible.

A Christian cross, a candle, The Bible, bread and wine and the baptismal and marriage registers were brought forward at the start of the service and were later carried from the building.

Horfield's oldest parishioner, Mrs Isabel Keath, 97, said that it was a sad day.

"But what can you do? We haven't got the people," she said.

Another parishioner reflected that where there were once four farms, there was now one.

Rev. Bannon led the recitation of a lament to mark the closure, saying that the life of Jesus may never be captured within a building.

"We grieve the loss of community - of fellowship and family," he said.

"And in terms of the building, we will miss its many familiar features. It is here that truth and love have been offered to us."

As the symbols were being removed from the church and the congregation moved out with lit candles, Presbytery chairperson, Judy Causon urged the congregation to remember that as one door closes, another opens.

"The God we worship is never confined to this holy place, but encountered in community, in word and sacrament, in bread and wine," she said.

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