The Frontier Services Patrol Ministers are committed to being there for people, in moments of great joy and at times of utmost sadness. This means going to where people are at, being in the places that people hold dear to them. The Patrol Ministers are frequently asked to celebrate milestones and ceremonies in the outback that would usually take place in a church. People in the bush often choose to mark these occasions in the places that have meaning to them – in the wide open spaces, under the gum trees, by the river. These are their spiritual places.
It is not unusual to find the bride resplendent in her wedding gown, but with boots at her feet. Or a groom dressed in a suit for the first time but wearing his trusty Akubra hat. A baby about to be baptised under the gums, or the whole community gathered by the river to farewell a good friend.
And always standing alongside them, a Frontier Services Patrol Minister.
A bush wedding
The journey that led Naomi Haynes (nee Johnston) to her wedding in the stunning landscape of Meekatharra demonstrates how a personal connection with a place influences how we see ourselves and our community. In October 2014, Naomi married her long-time partner Scott in Meekatharra, a town in mid-west region of Western Australia, eight hours from Perth. [Pictured above]
The magical day was held at a place close to their hearts, Munarra Homestead. The ceremony took place at the Breakaway, a magnificent rock formation not far from the homestead. Naomi has a special connection with Munarra Homestead. She spent 12 months as an in-home care educator at Munarra Homestead for Frontier Services, which is where she met Rev Mitch Fialkowski.
Everyone loves a bush wedding and the guest list stretched long and far with over 230 guests in attendance, including 174 adults and 56 children. But the most amazing fact was that 130 guests travelled enormous distances to Meekarratha for her special day, including many friends and family from interstate. Murchison Patrol Minister Rev Mitch Fialkowski has known Naomi for several years and he was delighted to take on the duty of wedding celebrant.
“The day was perfect. I had so much to organise leading up to the wedding and had to do most of it in Perth, but once the big day came, I was relaxed and enjoyed every minute,” says Naomi.
“Meekatharra will always be special for Scott and I, because it is where we met and got married and was the first home for our son Nate.”
As the Deputy Principal at the local high school, Naomi is a leader in the town and sees first-hand the impact of isolation on remote communities. She says due to limited access to services such as health and childcare peopple move to larger centres. In addition, transient population makes it difficult to form social cohesion and continuity within the community.
A bush baptism
Sturt Patrol Minister Pastor Paul Glazbrook and his wife Robyn travelled four hours from their base in Booleroo, SA, to Thurlga Station to baptise Bonnie, daughter of Ian and Katrina Morris, in the spectacular Gawler Ranges. The baptism was held at a nearby waterfall which was dry, so the family collected rainwater and filled a rock pool, which was used to baptise Bonnie. Family and friends sat along the rock walls as God was honoured in Bonnie’s life. Back at the homestead, a whole lamb was roasted in two 44 gallon drums welded together. Station owners, managers and staff from the district came out in force to support the family.
You can follow Paul’s Frontier Services journey in the Sturt Patrol on his blog http://prglazbrook.blogspot.com.au/