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17 June, 2021

Ecumenical Covenant milestone celebrated in Woodford

ST MARY’S Catholic Church in Woodford was the venue for a Christian milestone on Saturday June 5, as the service marked a 20-year celebration of signing the Covenant between Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting Church communities in the Stanley River area on June 1, 2001.

Rev David Baker (general secretary Queensland Churches Together), Bishop Jeremy Greaves (Anglican Church northern region), Rev Jilleen Chambers (Anglican Church Woodford/Kilcoy), Wendy Maddison (Uniting Church), Rev Helen Paget (Queensland Churches Together president), Margaret Naylon (executive officer Roman Catholic Archdiocesan Council for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Relations), Rev Fr Denis Scanlan (Stafford Catholic Church, and founding member of Stanley River Ecumenical Council, 1997).

Bishop Jeremy Greaves led the service, and representatives came from locations including Brisbane, Stafford and Boonah.

Those present included a few of the original folk who were also there on June 1, 2001, when the Covenant was officially signed by Heads of Churches.

Shared Symbols used by the Covenanted churches were carried in, for example the bible, a cross, a jug of water representing the waters of Baptism and a candle representing the Light of Jesus Christ.

The idea of this Covenant came about in March 1997 when leadership groups of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches were called to a joint meeting by Father Denis Scanlan.

Various ministers decided it was time to cast the church denominations together in the open sea of Ecumenism, and see where it would lead.

The formal Covenant and Supplement, which sets out the working relationship was drafted, and the Lutherans came on board in 2000.

The Ecumenical Group shared many events in a year, for example World Day of Prayer has had strong support and Christmas Carols have been held in the centre of Woodford as well as in Aloaka Lodge and Embracia.

Activities such as the Early Bird Breakfast program have continued with the support of the Woodford Lions Club and members of the local community. St Vincent de Paul, an organisation which reaches out to help the needy, is run on an ecumenical basis in Woodford and Kilcoy.

On average, 130 breakfasts are provided weekly during the school term to Woodford school children.

Although the Lutheran and Uniting churches in the Woodford area have closed in recent years, the members of those churches have been strong supporters of the continuing work of the Ecumenical community.

A Stanley River Ecumenical Council flyer stated: “A Covenant doesn’t last of its own volition. It needs the hearts and minds and the commitment of each member of our faith communities and those who come after us.

“Our challenge is to encourage others to see Jesus’ vision of unity and to seize every opportunity to project this vision so that the world will believe!

“We have no doubt that we are trendsetters and trailblazers! It is important to keep up the momentum.

“We march in the same parade with Jesus although we carry different banners!

“We recognise that there is ‘Unity in Diversity’ as we await the unfolding of God’s great plan for us into the future.” 

Some of the folk who were there on June 1 2001, for the Signing of the Covenant: Alice Sattherthwaite, Dorothy Hatchman, Jean Black, Dorothy Zornig and Wendy Tweney. 

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