Greetings from McLaren Vale, South Australia. Thank you for your prayers. I have received a very warm welcome to the Southern Vales Pastoral District where I am staying in the Rectory at McLaren Vale, a small town/village in the heart of the South Australia wineries. Good manners have dictated that I sample a few of the local brews! There are 4 small historic (Victorian) churches that comprise ‘the patch’. In terms of geography, there is a coastal plain leading to some white sand beaches and then rolling hills as a backdrop on the edge of the Fleurieu Peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is Spring here and the clocks have just gone forward. Temperatures fluctuate wildly. Today it is 29°c but tomorrow it is predicted to be 18°c. It has also been incredibly windy on a couple of days. As the hills gradually brown off the vines are coming into leaf, replacing the once green hills with green fields of vines.
You will be pleased to hear I am busy! I have a funeral already! But I also have some time to do what I want to do and to take in the sights and wildlife and get my camera out! Someone has lent me a pushbike so I will be off on that and the parishes have also lent me a car for getting around locally.
Bishop John tells me that the Diocese of the Murray is as big as Wales to give you some idea of scale. The 4 churches I am looking after are relatively close together with about 10/15km between them. People are just used to travelling further. I have noticed that the police are very vigilant with enforcing speed limits and random stops for drug/alcohol testing seem to be frequent.
I have hosted what we would call a “Bring & Share Supper” but it is known as “Bring a Plate” here. My joke to the churches is that a plate would be good – something on it would be even better. People are very warm and welcoming here and they are looking after me so well.
You are in my prayers. We pray for the West Dartmoor Mission Community each Sunday while I am here. Please pray for the Southern Vales Pastoral District. In so many ways the challenges we face as small village churches are the same here…It’s a small world (not entirely true having experienced the flights to get here!)