A small group of Fellowship members enjoyed a most interesting afternoon at our May meeting. We were sorry that some members were absent because of ill health. After catching up with each other's news in happy conversation over lunch, Norah Norris, facilitator for the day, led a devotional time based on St Paul's request to the Corinthians regarding the young churches in Asia: "Join in helping us by your prayers". (2 Corinthians 1:11). She told about the prayer services held in succession in four Adelaide churches (Pilgrim UCA, St Francis Xavier Catholic, St Mary Magdalene Anglican and St Stephen's Lutheran) on the previous Saturday to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the South Australian Council of Churches. She also recalled the Covenanting Document signed by 'heads' of fifteen Australian denominations in 2004, which included a number of agreements related to mutual recognition and a pledge to pray for each other. As members of the Uniting Church we are committed to pray for other Christian churches in our public and personal prayers.
Audrey Scrimgeour was the speaker for the day and gave a fascinating account of her 32 years of living in manses as the wife of a Presbyterian (later Uniting) minister. The story began in 1947 when she was 25, newly married and her husband Bert (Rev Robert J Scrimgeour) was just ordained and in his first parish appointment. They went to Heywood in Western Victoria. There were four congregations in a farming and dairy farming district. The people were friendly to the young couple but Audrey found some of their expectations regarding the role of minister's wife, such as chairing women's meetings and being President of the PWMU branches, presented problems that were new to her. Their first two children were born at Heywood, to the delight of the congregation.
Then during 1950 they moved to Bothwell in Tasmania where a minister was needed to serve the new hydro-electric scheme. There were large numbers of workers including many migrants in what had been a secluded mountain area. There Bert ministered to four congregations and five hydro camps. Their church at Bothwell was convict-built from 1830. It was during this time that Bert served a term as Presbyterian Moderator and they were among the special guests when the Queen and Prince Philip visited the State.
In 1954 Bert was called to St Columba's at Devonport, where he had the difficult task of rebuilding the congregation after a very long ministry followed by a long vacancy. Audrey combined motherhood with leadership in the Sunday School, women's meetings and other parish tasks.
Back to the mainland in 1960 and a very happy eight year ministry began in Wangaratta, in northern Victoria. They had a comfortable manse and garden and were well supported by generous people. Bert had an assistant minister and a deaconess in a busy well organised parish. When their youngest child, Ian, was born the people arranged assistance in the home for Audrey. By this time their older boys were away at school and university.
Some of us will remember when Bert and Audrey came home to South Australia in 1968, having been called to the Tusmore Presbyterian Church which became the Tusmore Park Uniting Church. With just one congregation, life was less complicated although manse life continued to be very busy. Bert was involved in Presbytery and Assembly concerns and served a term as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia. Retirement came in 1980 and some of our members recall the tributes paid to Bert and Audrey at a spectacular farewell event.
Our next meeting will be one where we share our memories of "Growing Up in the Church" - our various experiences of Sunday School, youth groups and teen and young adult activities. All welcome. BYO lunch at 12 noon on Thursday 1st June.
Rev Norah Norris
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