Uniting Church honours

helen drennen Wesley College principal Helen Drennen was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours list announced on January 26.

Dr Drennen, who has been principal at the 150-year-old Uniting Church School since 2003, was recognised for her service to secondary education through leadership roles, to professional bodies and to the community leadership.

She established the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School in the Kimberley region of Western Australia – in conjunction with the Fitzroy Valley Bunuba Indigenous community – which opened its doors in 2010 and also established the Wesley College Institute for Innovation in Education in 2005.

Dr Drennen was one of 11 Victorians with Uniting Church, or Church agency, connections to be honoured this year. The other 10 were all awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Benalla’s Mrs Winifred Mary Dunnachie, member of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship and the Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union Cookbook committee was recognised for services to the community and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Standing Committee member, John Diprose, from Caramut, was recognised for his long service to the Church in many roles including as Chair of the Presbytery of Western Victoria and as a member of the Board of Mission and Resourcing and the Standing Committee.

The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, praised the efforts all recipients had made to making Australia a better place.

“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our nation,’’ he said.

“For over 40 years these honours have helped to define, encourage and reinforce our national aspirations and ideals by acknowledging exceptional Australians.

“On behalf of all Australians, I thank them for their contributions. They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them.”



For significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology as a clinician, and to the international community through eye care programs.

Founder and Team Leader, Fiji Eye Care Program, Uniting World Australia, since 2006 and supported by the St. Clair Uniting Church, the Lautoka Hospital, and the Methodist Church Fiji.


Dr Helen Denise DRENNEN

Wesley College Melbourne Vic

For significant service to secondary education through leadership roles, to professional bodies, and to the community.

Wesley College Principal, since 2003.

Established the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, in conjunction with the Fitzroy Valley Bunuba Indigenous community, since 2004, with the school opening in 2010. Established the Wesley College Institute for Innovation in Education, 2005. Head of Campus, Glen Waverley, 1994-1997.

Associate to the Principal, 1992-1994. Head of Senior College, 1990-1992.

Senior Teacher, 1989.

(Wesley College, Melbourne is an independent, co-educational, Christian day school in Melbourne, Australia. Established in 1866,  the college is a school of the Uniting Church in Australia)


Mr Alan Douglas HEWITT, Hamilton NSW

For significant service to ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

New South Wales Ecumenical Council: Honorary General Secretary, 2012-2014.

Member, Peace and Justice Commission, since 2000.

Volunteer, National Council of Churches in Australia ‘Christmas Bowl’, 2000-2006.

Secretary, Faith and Unity Committee, Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, current.

Hunter Presbytery of the Uniting Church in Australia:

Member, Faith and Unity Committee, current.

Convenor, Youth and Tertiary Ministry Committee, since 2010.

Member, Social Justice Committee, since 2008.

Presbytery Representative, Newcastle Ecumenical Working Group, current.


The Reverend Dr John Allan HIRT, Avalon Beach NSW

For significant service to the Uniting Church in Australia, particularly through theological direction, to youth, and to the community.

Uniting Church in Australia: Chaplain, University of Sydney, since 1996.

Pastor, Leichhardt Uniting Church, since 2011.

Member, National Doctrine Working Group (responsible for steering the theological direction of the Uniting Church of Australia nation-wide), since 2008.


Mr Neil Edwin SUMMERSON, Fairfield Gardens Qld

For significant service to the finance, commerce and business sectors, to the arts, and to the community.

Chairman, Uniting Care Health, 2002-2003.

Governor, St Andrew’s Hospital, Brisbane, 1998-2000.

(UnitingCare Health formed on June 13, 2000. Its purpose was to unite the hospitals then owned and operated by the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod)

(St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital began in May 1947 when the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland approved the building as a living memorial to those who had served in the recent wars.)



Mrs Susan Bartlett ALEXANDER, Gordon NSW

For service to the community, particularly to children’s welfare.

Committee Member, Uniting Care Burnside, 2002-2009.


Mr Arthur David BRAWN, Killara NSW

For service to the community, particularly through Rotary.

Member, Church Council, Gordon Uniting Church, current and Member, Finance Committee, current and Parishioner, since 1987.


Mr Alan Dean BROOK, East Ivanhoe Vic

For service to youth, and to the community.

Heidelberg East Ivanhoe Uniting Church:

Information and Technology Support Officer, since circa 2009.

Past Elder and Past Treasurer.

Co-Founder and Leader, Youth Groups, 1970s-1980s.

Parishioner, since circa 1970.


Mrs Barbara Lyn BROOK, East Ivanhoe Vic

For service to youth, and to the community.

Uniting Church in Australia : Member, Committee of Management and Board, Hope Springs (mental health ministry), since 2010.

Member, Congregation Church Council, 1977-2012, including as Assistant Secretary ‘for 10 years’.  Elder since 1982.

Editor, ‘Heidelberg East Ivanhoe Uniting Gazette’, since 1994.

Past Member, Presbytery of Yarra Valley Pastoral Relations Committee including Secretary.

Chair, East Ivanhoe Congregation, 2 years.

Past Assistant Secretary, ‘for 10 years’ and Joint Treasurer, ‘for 2 years’ and Leader, Youth Groups and Sunday School Teacher, ‘for 10 years’.  Volunteer, Sycamore Tree Coffee Shop, 1986.


Ms Chantal Marie-Claudine DENIS, Epping NSW

For service to the community through the Wayside Chapel.

Service includes: The Wayside Chapel: Cafe Coordinator, current. Coordinator, The Wayside Choir. Part-time employee, since 2004. Volunteer, since February 1983.


Mr John William DIPROSE, Caramut Vic

For service to the community, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Elder and Member, Cavendish then Hamilton Uniting Church Councils, since 1967.

Lay Preacher, 15 years.

Chair, Presbytery of Western Victoria, 2013-2015 and Member since 2003.

Member, Board of Mission and Resourcing, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, 1995-2014.

Member, Standing Committee, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, since 2014.


Mrs Barbara Jean DORWARD, Airport West Vic

For service to the community, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Church Elder and Councillor, Keilor East Airport West Uniting Church, current and Member, over 50 years.

President, Auxiliary Team, Marivale Nursing Home – Ascot Vale, Uniting Aged Care (now Uniting AgeWell), 10 years and Auxiliary Team Member, 1986-2006.

Mentor, Kids Hope, 2007-2014.


Mrs Winifred Mary DUNNACHIE, Benalla Vic

For service to the community, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania:

Committee Member, Australian Church Women (Victorian Unit), current.

Member, Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union Cookbook Committee Victoria, current.

State Councillor, Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF), since 2001.

Synod President, 2005-2006.

President, Goulburn Murray Presbytery UCAF, ‘no dates’.

Co-ordinator, Catering Committee, Benalla Uniting Church, current.


Mrs Edith Marjorie FAIRLIE, Kawungan Qld

For service to aged care.

Elder, Parish Councillor and Church Councillor, Hervey Bay Congregation, Uniting Church in Australia, since 1970s.  Has held a range of positions including President, Treasurer, Adult Fellowship Group, and Treasurer of the Uniting Church Catering Committee.


Mr Keith Fredrick HENNING, Telopea NSW

For service to the community of Parramatta, and through charitable contributions.

Parramatta Mission Uniting Church in Australia; Doctors without Borders; Wesley Mission Lifeforce; St Peters Junior School, Gulu, Northern Uganda; and 4 scholarships for PhD students undertaking medical research.

Treasurer, Centenary Uniting Church Parramatta, 2002-2012.

Treasurer and Elder, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1980s.

Accountant and Secretary, Burnside Homes for Children, 1966-1987 and Joint Director, 1982-1987.


Mr Graeme Lachlan McEWIN, Wheelers Hill Vic

For service to the community of Rowville.

Member, Church Council, Rowville Uniting Church, 20 years and Member, Bridgewater Centre Committee, 18 years.

Secretary, Glen Waverly Uniting Church, 10 years and Member, 1968-1989.


Mr David Lister PRATT, Lake Wendouree Vic

For service to the community of Ballarat.

Service includes: Chair, Uniting Care Ballarat Board, 2003-2005 and Member, until 2011.

Board Member, Uniting Housing, since 2011.

Chairman, Lifeline Service, 1982-1990 and Deputy Chairman, 1990-2001 and Chairman, Initiating Committee, Lifeline Ballarat, 1970.

Circuit Steward, Wesley Methodist Church, Ballarat, 1960s.


Mrs Joycelyn Beatrice RIECK, Rosewood Qld

For service to aged persons, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Service includes: Cabanda Care:(A care facility for the elderly and disabled which  provides residential accommodation, day respite service, community care, meals on wheels and volunteer information): Board Secretary, since 2011 and 1988-2004.

Rosewood Uniting Church: Lay Preacher, current.

Secretary, Church Council, ‘for many years’.

Secretary, Chaplaincy Committee, since 2010.

Treasurer, Women’s Fellowship.

Treasurer, West Moreton Group Coordinating Body, ‘for many years’.

Convenor, Meals on Wheels Program, 1970-1987.


Mr Gregory Winston SAMSON, Traralgon Vic

For service to youth through Scouting, and to the community.

Traralgon Uniting Church: Member of Church Council and Church Elder, since 1977.

Chairman of Elders Council, Church Council for 2 terms, and Secretary for 2 terms, (4 years). Convenor, Justice, Outreach and Service Committee, since 2001.

Currently assisting with after school Homework Program, Liddiard Road Primary School
(a church sponsored program for approx. 50 youth).

Parishioner, since 1974.

Presbytery of Gippsland: Member of Presbytery in Council, since 1985.

Presbytery Secretary, 2003 – 2007.

Member of Presbytery Standing Committee, 2000 – 2015.

Convenor of Property Committee, 2008 – 2010.

Member of a number of Task Groups and Working Groups from 2000 -2015.

Member of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation Task Group and Newsletter Editor, since 2009.


Mr Geoffrey SIMPSON, Flagstaff Hill SA

For service to the community, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Uniting Church in Australia: Member, Seeds Uniting Church (formerly Aberfoyle Uniting Church), since 1977. Elder, since 1977. Councillor, since 1977. Secretary, Church Council, 20 years. Chairperson of Congregation, 10 years. Member, Presbytery and Synod of South Australia, 15 years and Member, Synod Committee for Discipline, 9 years.


Pastor Linda Elizabeth SIVYER, Manly West Qld

For service to local government, and to the community of Aurukun.

Aurukun Uniting Church, 1998-2014 – Kids Club Coordinator.

Minister of Religion, Australian Christian Churches, current.


Mr Robert Carl SLEIGH, Clapham SA

For service to the community of South Australia.

Member, Westbourne Park Uniting Church, since 1986.


Mr Roger Lewis THOMPSON, Hamilton Vic

For service to the community of Hamilton, and to the Uniting Church in Australia.

Hamilton Uniting Church: Co-ordinator, Second Bite Program, current.

Chairman, Stewardship Committee, since 1994.

Member, Church Council, 1999-2013.

Coordinator, Junior Youth Group, 2000-2005.

Member, Parish Council, 1993-1998.

Secretary, Elders Council, 1985-1987.

Member, Elders Council, 1980-1991.

Member, Choir, many years.


Mrs Marjorie Olive THORNTON, Port Elliot SA

For service to the community of Port Elliot.

Choir leader, Church Councillor and Volunteer, Hotham Memorial Uniting Church, Port Elliot, since 1980s, and Secretary, ‘for several years’, and Program Organiser and Team Leader, KUCA Club (Kids of the Uniting Church of Australia after-school program), 1988-2012.

Organist, choir mistress and musical director, Elizabeth Downs Methodist Church, 1960s-1980s.


Ms Jillian Ruth WELLS, East Hawthorn Vic

For service to medical research and community organisations.

Member, Board of Governance, Uniting Care LifeAssist, since 2009 and Chair, Participant and Quality Sub-Committee, current.



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