ABM Supporters Inspired by what God is doing in North Queensland

Apr 5, 2023

ABM supporters recently heard stories of “achievement and opportunity” from the Diocese of North Queensland at our 2023 Easter Gift Appeal event held via Zoom on 30 March.

Host of the event was the Rev’d Canon Glenn Loughrey, Chair of NATSIAC. Glenn was joined by the Rt Rev’d Keith Joseph, Bishop of North Queensland, the Ven Annette Woods, Archdeacon for the Cape, and the Rev’d Victor Joseph, Principal of Wontulp Bi Buya College in Cairns.

The Rev Canon Uncle Glenn Loughry described ABM’s “Coming of the Light” project, implemented with the Diocese of Nth Queensland, as “valuable, important, and as setting an example of what the broader Church in Australia could do to help”. Such work, he said, “provides dignity to people”.

While Bishop Keith shared the overarching vision of empowering communities to raise up leaders to minister both locally and nationally, Annette and Victor spoke of grassroots achievements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Victor shared about his students at Wontulp bi Buya and the impact Torres Strait Islanders are having locally and across Australia.

All speakers mentioned the challenges faced on a daily basis by the North Queensland communities and those who minister to them: poor mobile phone and internet coverage, expensive food, old buildings – often containing asbestos, and lack of resources in small communities. Despite these challenges, we heard how God is working in these same communities and we were invited to continue to pray for the work in this Diocese and to support it financially through ABM’s Easter Gift Appeal.

Bishop Keith said that the “communities [in North Queensland] are a joy and a challenge. The joy comes from vibrant worship with Spirit flowing through. They are communities that not only preserve culture, but which live with culture in a way which is glorifying to God and which brings the people of those communities together”.

The challenges include the isolation and remoteness of many communities. For Bishop Keith to get to the outermost parish of the Torres Strait Islands from Townsville takes five flights, two days, and costs about $5000 return! Alongside that goes inadequate electronic communications. One of the reasons we were unable to have people from the Torres Strait Islands joining us on the Zoom call is the difficulty of getting a reliable internet link. That can make it difficult to organise meetings and other events.

On the positive side, the Ven Annette shared that all but one community on Cape York now has a resident priest, with the final priest awaiting clearance from the local government on the house he is to live in. Many of these are Melanesian Brothers from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. “Having a full-time priest in Pormpuraaw, Kowanyama and Lockhart River is exciting – it bodes well for the communities having someone who is enthusiastic and happy to be there. The people of Kowanyama are particularly excited for their future”, she said.

Fr Victor reminded us that God has planted seeds that we need to water. He encouraged us to water the seeds being planted in far north Queensland by our prayer and giving. He said, “Two years ago we began the journey by the formation of the council, Meriba Maygi Zageth, ‘Our Holy Work’. Once the council becomes incorporated, it gives us an autonomous voice. We are finally getting our voice within the Church to express the ministry needs of the Torres Strait region. Supporting us is the Aboriginal Ministry Council, and the wider Church as well. But you can speak, and it then depends on who is listening. What will they do about what they hear? That’s the question and it’s not one that I can answer. The response depends on the listener. We don’t want the listeners to be mute or just say that they are supporting us. We need action.”

ABM looks forward to sharing the fruit of this work in the years to come and thanks all our supporters who uphold it in prayer and who have given generously.

If you would like to support the work of the church in North Queensland and the Torres Strait, please consider giving to ABM’s Easter Gift Appeal at www.abmission.org/Easter2023