Every year the Anglican Church celebrates and prays for the Seafarers of the world. Bunbury has a long history of supporting the seafarers who have visited Bunbury Port. The Conns sisters established the first mission to Seafarers club in 1903.
There has been a continuous ministry since that date. I served as chaplain and chairman for 10 years in the Bunbury Mission. In general people have many and varied images of a seafarer, from a man who has a wife in every port, hard drinking and not always a desirable person. In reality this is far from the truth. Most seafarers come from the poorest countries in the world who have to spend up to 10 months at a time away from home. They support extended families back home. They live in very cramped conditions and are often very lonely.
The Bunbury mission provides a home from home atmosphere where the seafarers can relax, make contact with their families, receive spiritual guidance from the chaplain, and shop in the central business district. A bus service is provided to bring countless men from ship to shore and return.
At a time when the Christian Church and faith are under attack because of tragic mistakes made by a minority of clergy and laity, we should celebrate the wonderful ministries exercised everyday. The Mission to Seafarers is just one of the
countless organisations that continue the compassionate ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ’s Service
Ven. Brian Newing
As a child we didn’t have Op shops where we lived, so on holidays to Melbourne one highlight was to visit the local ‘Opportunity Shop’ where our hard earned spending money went so much further! For years I had my felt doll ‘Ipana’, named after her beautifully stitched teeth, and my sister had ‘Dollar Wednesday’- no explanation needed! I didn’t realise then, but I have now realised what a blessing these shops are to the community.
A few years ago I felt it was my season to be able to do some work for the church and our community. Monday is my day off from teaching so with the understanding of the Op shop staff I was put on sorting fortnightly. As possibly the youngest staff member, this definitely brought some challenges. For example I’m aware of some different brands to our other helpers, so when I see a pair of Mossimo jeans (which usually retail for over $200 a pair) I think “Awesome, put these on the rack” not “Those jeans have a tear, bin them”
We are so fortunate and blessed that our community are so giving. There is always so much to be sorted, and as a result our shop is only stocked with quality goods.
Due to the excess items we are able to help even further than our immediate area with Seafarers Mission, Women’s Refuge, the Prison and to the needy overseas.
A personal bonus of working at the Op shop is that it has given me the chance to find things for my classrooms and to wear myself!! I have found that this has actually had a positive reaction at school. I’m never embarrassed to say where my clothes come from, and as a result, my students now know if they comment on my outfit, the response more often or not is “from my favourite shop”, to which they respond with “Oh, the Australind Op shop”. I believe this has actually helped take the stigma away for some families who don’t have a choice but to buy preloved clothes as my students have gone home and asked their parents to take them to our Op shop to have a look!!
The Op shop is not just a place to buy a bargain.
It can be a place where people come feeling a bit low, find someone prepared to listen to them, and leave feeling better.
I love volunteering in the shop and chatting with customers. I love helping them to locate what they are hoping to find. I strongly urge anyone to volunteer their time to the Op shop (especially some younger people) as it is very rewarding.
What does it mean to you?