When Julie Blake was flipping through Crosslight earlier this year, she noticed that the Kalgoorlie Uniting Church – in Western Australia’s remote Goldfields region – was offering accommodation in the manse in return for people willing to take services.
Julie and her husband Ricky were already planning a trip from their home in Tasmania’s North-West to Coolgardie, about 40km away from Kalgoorlie.
In July the couple stayed four days in Kalgoorlie-Boulder – a city of more than 30,000 people located about 600 km northeast of Perth – in exchange for conducting a Sunday service.
Julie, who often conducts services at Penguin Uniting Church, engaged with congregation members over the telephone and internet to plan the service and arrange the music.
She described the whole experience as “wonderful”.
“There was a thought that we were walking into the unknown, but really the congregation was very much the same as those on the North-West of Tasmania,” she said.
“They were so friendly and welcoming. It was just like finding another bit of our Uniting Church family.”
Kalgoorlie church member Nadra Calver said the idea arose because the church had struggled to attract a permanent minister.
“We advertised in a few different states (Victoria-Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland),” Ms Calver said.
She said there has been a steady stream of enquiries, ranging from grey nomads travelling the country to those just seeking a short break from Perth.
“The congregation really enjoys it as they have a lot of different people with different outlooks on faith,” Ms Calver said.
“For instance, Julie’s was a very family-oriented service which was different.”
The four-bedroomed manse comes fully furnished.
For more information contact Nadra Calver on (08) 9091 3612 or 0477 060 872.