Farewell to Freda Whitlam ‘a true servant of God’

Freda WhitlamFreda Whitlam, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 97, has been remembered as a lifelong woman of God with a passion for education and women’s ministry in the UCA.  

She was the ninth Moderator of NSW/ACT Synod and an influential member of Penrith Uniting Church.

Freda sat on the board that founded Western Sydney University, and helped bring the University of the Third Age (U3A), a movement that provides education to seniors, to Australia, specifically Penrith and the Blue Mountains. She remained active in this space, teaching Latin at U3A well into her 90s.

Much like her brother, former Prime Minister Edward ‘Gough’ Whitlam, Freda was a witty, intimidating presence.

Uniting Church NSW/ACT Moderator Rev Simon Hansford told Insights that Freda would be missed.

“Freda was truly a servant of God her entire life,” Mr Hansford said.

“The Uniting Church has always been proud of the leadership we have received from our leaders, women and men, lay and ordained.”

“We give thanks to God for her leadership and her ministry in all elements of her life.”

In 2009, Freda was the subject of a biography written by Noelene Martin. Freda: A Biography of Freda Whitlam was launched by Dr Barry Jones on 16 March at Western Sydney University.

In a 2009 interview promoting the book, Ms Martin said that she chose to write the book because Freda’s story deserved to be told.

“I found out that Freda in her own way had been influential— in education and in connection with the church — but she’d been overshadowed by Gough,” Ms Martin said.

“She made a contribution I thought was of equal importance but the way people saw Gough often influenced the way they saw and reacted to Freda.”

Freda was a passionate advocate for women’s ministry, which she referred to as, “One of the glories of the Uniting Church.”

This article was originally published in Insights

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