Some might think that getting an Order of Australia (AM) is reward enough but Reverend Professor Emeritus Robert Gribben said what follows is even better.
Robert, 75, was recognised for “significant service to the Uniting Church in Australia, to ecumenical relations and theological studies” and was one of a number of people with a connection to the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania named in the Australia Day honours list.
“I have had an amazing number of phone calls, emails and Facebook salutes,” Robert said.
“It’s been quite overwhelming. I think it’s better than the order itself to have unleashed such a torrent of generous responses.”
Robert said his reaction to receiving the award is “simple gratitude” especially as much of his work has involved extensive travel as a participant in international ecumenical dialogues, including 15 years of representing the World Methodist Council.
“Gratitude too because a lot of the work that is done in that citation has taken place away from congregations, away from home, some people have been wise enough to congratulate my wife as well,” he said.
“Without her generosity I actually couldn’t have done the jobs I was asked to do.”
Robert is also particularly renowned for his work in liturgical studies and was an important contributor to Uniting in Worship as well as other resources.
He has an abiding interest in Wesleys and Methodism.
“Scholarly work is done in your study or in the library and published in journals that not everybody reads,” he said.
“It really has been backroom work where it is not particularly noticed. My pleasure is that work done out of sight of the church I am a member actually was recognised.”
Former MP turned academic Professor John Langmore, who is a member of Mark the Evangelist Uniting Church in North Melbourne and a former UnitingJustice chair, also received an AM “for significant service to the Parliament of Australia, to international relations and governance, and to education”.
Ann Connan from Frankston South in Melbourne received a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her work with children in Uniting Church and predecessor denomination groups as well as for her many other contributions to local, national and international church groups and fellowships.
In Shepparton, AOM recipient Raymond Luscombe was honoured for his long years of service to the local Uniting Church and community.
‘‘We’re now so heavily involved at the Shepparton Uniting Church Op Shop, we’re there everyday,’’ Ray told Shepparton News.
‘‘I retired here for a quiet life but it hasn’t actually worked out that way.’’
St Andrews Uniting Church member Neil Lamond also received an AOM to recognise his contributions to the church and longstanding involvement in Geelong area tennis clubs and competitions.
St Thomas Uniting Church Secretary Andrew Jessop was recognised with an AOM for his contributions in the church and in numerous community groups.
Stawell Uniting Church Elder Margaret Taylor AOM’s citation noted her contributions to the community as a driving force behind the Stawell Riding for the Disabled Centre.
Ian Taylor also received an AOM for his contributions to Stawell Uniting Church and the community.
Auburn Uniting Church member John Hudson was awarded an AOM in recognition for service to the community of Hawthorn.
Brian Lacy, who sits on Synod’s Terms of Placement Committee and is a former council chair of Trinity Uniting Church North Balwyn, received an AOM in recognition of “distinguished service to the public administration of Australia’s Indian Ocean territories, to industrial relations, and to the law.”