Why I have always been enthusiastic about supporting Frontier Services

In 1929 to 1949 I attended Rose Bay Presbyterian Church; a suburb of Sydney. In October 1942 I was about to celebrate my 15th birthday. Back in those days you went to Sunday School until your were 14 years of age after which you could join the Fellowship which met at 6 pm followed by the evening service. This I did, but my parents went every Sunday to the morning service so I had to go also. I did not enjoy that service.

On this day in October there was a visiting minister – Rev John Flynn. Oh, what a contrast – he was so alive – I was exhilarated. I quote what Rosemary Young wrote, the then National Director of Frontier Services. “Rev John Flynn had a clear understanding of what was necessary to build and sustain community in remote Australia. He dreamt of practical hands extended in friendship, of support and nursing services provided where they were needed. He saw the need for ministry beyond the urban boundaries.”

After this service my father said “Why don’t you get his autograph?” I was a very quiet lass, but with pen and paper in hand I went to John Flynn and asked him for his autograph. He obliged and dated it. I took it home and pasted it into my father’s autograph book for safe keeping. So, I think from that day I have been enthusiastic about the Australian Inland Mission, now known as Frontier Services. 

In 1954 my cousin Ruth asked if I would like to hitchhike with her from Sydney to Alice Springs. Why not, I had always wanted to see the outback. After all we had hitched for 8 weeks in 1950 in Europe, only speaking English and had survived. So off we went and got as far as Port Augusta in SA; here we felt we needed to make decision. Do we continue on the road to Alice or do we go across to Hawker and get on the Ghan. If we went by Ghan we would be able to visit the Mission Station at Oodnadatta, so this is what we did. Back in 1954 there were not as many cars on the road as today so we did a lot of walking. We did get the Ghan at Hawker and it stopped at Oodnadatta for 30 minutes. We located the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) where we found two nurses on duty; they kindly gave us an ice cream in a cone – oh how we appreciated that. After that the Ghan had a couple of break downs which allowed us to get off the train and admire the outback. Eventually we arrived in Alice and pitched our tent on the banks of the Todd River. There was no water in the river. We wandered around the town. To our surprise we came across the Flynn Memorial Church which was being constructed. Pink and white marble chips were being put onto cement blocks. Yes, a couple of pieces are in my photograph album to this day. 

In 2011 I again had the opportunity to return to Alice, this time by plane: from Hobart to Adelaide and the new Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs. This now has a different route and no longer passes through Oodnadatta. I was able to revisit the Flynn Memorial Church and admire the beautiful building as I remembered John Flynn’s dream. 

Here at Kingston Uniting Church our continued support helps keep John Flynn’s this dream alive.

Heather Lodge