The Summit – End of an Era (pt 2)

The Summit walks in to Stanthorpe.

On Saturday 18 November about 100 people gathered for the Thanksgiving Service and Decommissioning of The Summit Uniting Church. The next day nine people walked ten kilometres to Stanthorpe carrying the symbols of worship while three senior members of the congregation caught a ride with Lincoln McPhee in his Citroen Light 15.

 Two years ago a similar crowd gathered for the Centenary. In the era when the church was built many families lived in the region growing apples, stone fruit and vegetables for market. Having many children to pitch in with planting, pruning, picking and packing meant that even a small holding could support a family. The produce was carried on the Sunday afternoon train to the markets at Rocklea in Brisbane. Then the families would go to church. Only the liveliest preachers could keep weary people from dozing off on a summer afternoon! Bert Abraham was the Sunday school superintendent for 37 years and prepared the students to sit the Sunday School exams. A solid timber hall was built in the 1960s to accommodate 50 students but by the end of the 1990s the Sunday school closed. A Monday afternoon children’s club ran for few years but then that closed. The Ladies organised fetes, markets, luncheons and catered for many events in the community. There were several lay preachers who volunteered across the district.

But times have changed. Farms have been aggregated and the many hands needed to prune, harvest and pack fruit now belong to back packers and seasonal harvest workers from elsewhere. The remaining members of the congregation are seniors and they want to be able to visit their family and friends in other places. Getting into town to worship is an easy car journey. Old buildings take a lot of maintenance and complying with new standards can be expensive.

So the decision was made to amalgamate with the church in town. Other amalgamations happened around the time of Church union so some of the people and furniture are moving again. There is grief and sadness in letting go. Yet there is also a hope that we are pilgrims carrying forward the abundant grace of God into the future. We are custodians of the memories and stewards of the riches of God for each generation.

As people at The Summit Church invested themselves in God’s mission locally in ways that matched the needs and opportunities of their time, so we are called to be God’s people in our own time, listening to the community and responding with fresh words and deeds.

Kaye Ronalds