My spiritual home is Ashfield Uniting Church, always has and will be. There are times when I don’t know what I believe anymore, and yet I gravitate back to Ashfield. People speak their mind here. It is gritty and real and full of love. The sermon was about celebration, and understanding that there is something to be thankful for every day. It may a rainbow appearing overhead or the breath in your lungs. At morning tea, Bill put on an Australian Story from 16 years ago. He stood to the side of the hall as the matriarchs of the church appeared on-screen. He watched as Speakers Corner in The Domain (a lively corner of Sydney in the 60’s),sprang to life. Pictures of him as a young engineer were presented. Here he was, in his 20’s, minding his own business, when he had an epiphany. He left it all behind to live and work in The Cross. I had tears. I remembered watching the show all those years ago, and deciding that I needed to go to this church, to meet him.
He also showed us a 7.30 Report segment on the literacy program. I can’t adequately describe how it felt to watch children who had been discounted and neglected by our educational system come back to life. They were beaming, their shoulders back and heads held high at their graduation ceremonies. This program has changed their lives and futures. It is being extended to Liverpool in the near future. Bill was there when I went into premature labour with my daughter at twenty weeks. He sat by my bedside and celebrated when the rupture in my waters sealed and the contractions stopped. He was among the first in the maternity ward when she arrived safely at 36 weeks. He held her and prayed over her.
Here, they do real. They argue and get cranky, and cry and laugh. Your life can be in ruins and you can be dishevelled and you will still be loved. That makes it a rare and special place. To donate or find out more, head to Bill Crews’ website.