Valentine’s Day was a day of loving and a service day of release for Rev James Stewart Murray who retired on 29 February. Pastor Jim, as we fondly call him, became the Minister of the Word at St Albans and Sydenham/Caroline Springs congregations in September 2011.
Pastor Jim’s ministries demonstrated his capacity to work cross-culturally, as well as the ability to minister effectively in both traditional and non-traditional congregations. At St. Albans (SAUCA), which is the home of the first Filipino UCA congregation in Australia, he nurtured people in their Christian faith and spiritual development and helped the church congregation grow with new members from the Pacific Islands, Africa and Vietnam. At the Sydenham-Caroline Springs congregation, he guided the faith community (which was started by members of St Albans in 2004), through a number of changes that ultimately led to their recognition as a congregation of the Uniting Church in Australia.
With Pastor Jim’s assistance, St Albans received a grant from the Lenten Share appeal to assist the Vietnamese fellowship in their community service and after-school homework programs. At Sydenham/Caroline Springs, Pastor Jim and the leadership group initiated a number of outreach events and developed a good relationship with the local Neighbourhood House. And working with the Presbytery he helped St Albans/Sydenham-Caroline Springs in their successful submission to BOMAR (Board of Mission and Resourcing) to partly fund a Regional Multicultural Youth Worker. At St Albans, our support for Uniting World’s global mission, Share Appeal, Christmas Bowl and Lentara UnitingCare grew and our Mission Support Group developed partnerships with three Filipino Church community-based projects in Tondo, Sampaloc and San Andres Bukid in Manilla.
Pastor Jim believes mission; like worship, is essential to the life of any congregation. He reminded us that a congregation is called to be engaged continually in the transforming work of kingdom – according to its gifts and graces.
The service of release for Pastor Jim coincided with the 24th anniversary of the St Albans Filipino UCA congregation. The occasion was indeed a celebration of ministry. The joint choir of St. Albans and Sydenham-Caroline Springs UCA sang ‘Cornerstone’ as their farewell song to Pastor Jim giving thanks to God for his great faithfulness.