A Service of Separation was held for Rev Margaret Russell and Pastor John Russell in the Donald Uniting Church, where representatives from all the congregations in their parish gathered. Approximately 300 people attended a luncheon following the service, where the Russells’ work in churches and the wider community was acknowledged.
Chairperson of Donald Church Council Colin Coates said the service gave community members a chance to express their thanks to the couple.
“In their 10 years of ministering in the Uniting Churches of Donald, St Arnaud, Stuart Mill and recently Birchip and Wycheproof, as well as the towns wider communities, the Russells have left an indelible mark through their caring compassion and willingness to help those in need,” Mr Coates said.
“Their compassion for people and their enthusiasm for life were most welcome during the ten years of drought. God’s timing with the Russells in our communities was a great blessing.”
Pastor John Russell’s work in chaplaincy for the Donald Football Club and North Central Football League is widely known. The Uniting Church sponsors the junior footballers, who proudly display the dove symbol on their jumpers.
Rev Margaret Russell’s work – both in the Uniting Church and the wider community – was acknowledged in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.