The United Church of God’s first resident pastor for Western Australia, Grant Chick, along with his wife Kim, discuss their recent move and their work in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
[Victor Kubik] My name is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God, and with me today I have Grant Chick and his wife Kim. Grant is pastor of the Perth and Bunbury congregation of Western Australia and he is also the pastor of churches in Singapore and works with Malaysian brethen as well. Welcome.
[Grant Chick] Thank you Victor. Good to be here.
[Kim Chick] Thank you Victor. Lovely to be with you.
[Victor] We’re just so very happy to be with them. We are in Singapore actually right now at this point and we will be holding a Bible study with our brethren here tonight. But we thought that we would share some of our thoughts with you. I have just returned from Australia myself, where my wife and I attended a conference of all the Australian pastors, deacons and many of their leading members. This has been a very very wonderful experience for us. But also we went out to Perth, Australia where Grant and Kim live and visited with their congregation as well, and with the people in that church. It’s been a very, very eye opening experience and also one that’s been very inspiring as they have just moved there, by just I mean about seven or eight months ago. And they are the first resident pastor of that area in the history, the twenty-one year history of the United Church of God. So Grant I’d like you to tell us a little bit about the area and tell us why it’s been so important for you to move out there.
[Grant] Thank you Victor. Victor the United Church of God in Australia has been very desirous of sending an elder to Western Australia to have a pastor on the ground. But that hasn’t been possible due to manpower restrictions and so for the last six and a half years Steven Clark had been pastoring the Western Australia congregations and flying over from Melbourne. You’ve got to understand that Australia the continent fits right into or right over the United States as far as size is concerned. For Steven and for myself when I took over in January last year the flight, our flight, is between four and a half and five and a half hours flying from east to west. And so what we’ve been doing with Steven, and he did a fantastic job there, was flying from Melbourne to Perth once a month and then supplementing that with another elder or church leader flying in subsequently during the month. And obviously the lengthy travel and spending time away from home and family does wear an individual down and so eventually the decision was made to actually put the elder into Western Australia. And so a process was embarked on by the National Council and the pastoral committee to select a pastor to travel and to go and live in Western Australia.
Well, Kim and I were the lucky ones who drew that straw and we have happily embraced that opportunity to serve the members. It was difficult last year because I was traveling, and we traveled once a month to Perth, to serve the members both in Perth and also in Western and Bunbury in Southwestern Australia. And so this meant flying in on a Friday afternoon, traveling down to Bunbury, speaking to the brethren there and trying to spend a little bit of time with them and then getting in a vehicle and traveling two hours north to Perth again to speak with the members there. And then taking time on a Sunday to visit, council, and keep the church running over there. And so we did that for twelve months. But in December of this, of last year in 2015, we packed our home up and sent it across to Perth where we are now located.
[Victor] Well I know that from my standpoint, having to pastor a church five hours by air is just to me unthinkable. It’s like pastoring a church in Los Angeles from New York City. And I’m sure this will make a big, big difference by being there, by living there, and spending time with the people.
[Grant] Yes, Victor. It’s really, since we have arrived and have been on the ground, the members have really embraced us as family and we have also embraced them as family. And so and that’s something that we’re working on. We’re working on building this, these very strong bonds of both family and community within the congregations and one of the first things we did change when traveling there was to speak in one congregation each weekend so that we weren’t rushing off to another congregation, or back to the other congregation to speak. And we’re really trying to build those bonds of unity within the congregations that we serve.
[Victor] Well I would like to look, know more about the building of community. Maybe I can talk to Kim about this because I know that I’ve talked to the Australian ministry and when we were planning the agenda for the conference it was really almost insisted that we have a section on building community. Kim, can you tell me a little bit more about this?
[Kim] Yes, Victor. Community is a word which as we discussed before is, goes back a long way. Communities were built out of a sense of a necessity to, in order to function and live and these days we don’t have a lot of that in the world that we live. We think it’s important to get back to some of those basic ideas of family, community, relying on each other in a, in an area and I think it’s really important that we do that. That we don’t just meet on the Sabbath and that we meet for functions before and after and sometimes during the week if we can and that we help each other and help others around us.
[Victor] Yeah, certainly that can’t be done if you’re just on the other end of the country. I know that Steven Clark really loved going over there but I know that by having someone just live there is going to make quantitative difference in the makeup of the church.
[Grant] Most definitely Victor, and one of the things we’re aiming to do, and obviously spring boarding from the conference that we have just attended, is to build leadership within the congregations in Western Australia. They in many ways have been left to fend for themselves in between the visits with the elders visits and so what we’re doing is we are really looking for people who are prepared to lead, prepared to serve and serve in a Christ-like manner. And that’s really, I mean we’re all wanting to become more like Jesus Christ in our lives and so we are harnessing the energy and the talents of individuals within our congregation to begin to become leaders in their own right. And we’re really enjoying the leaders that we have and that have shown and risen and we really feel strongly a great bond with them right now.
[Victor] Well I know that I was there for two meetings, a Bible study last Thursday evening and also Sabbath services, and it’s one of the most intense congregations that I’ve ever been to. The people talked and talked and it’s like they really wanted to just tell their life story to tell about, you know about their history in the church, about their spiritual journey. It was really wonderful, and I thought they have just been people that have just needed so badly to have a leader and have someone who cares for them. One of the strengths of the United Church of God has been that we have been able to provide live pastors because having a person who leads and is right there with the people is so important. DVDs and video just doesn’t do it like having someone right there with them.
[Kim] Yes. It’s very important and I think looking ahead now to the Singapore brethren I think that’s important for them as well. You know, the Holy Spirit seems to dissolve cultural divisions and it’s very special to be able to be able to walk into a place like Singapore and instantly feel that they are too family. And that’s how we’ve felt here too and we look, we’re looking forward to our Bible study tonight.
[Victor] Tell us a little more, a bit more about the group here, about the people in Singapore. They have been here for several decades. The church has been well established as a bond of unity. Tell us a little bit more about the people here.
[Grant] Yes Victor. The members here in Singapore are very remote as well geographically. They have not ever had a pastor, obviously, on the ground. They’ve always been reliant fiercely in the last few years, reliant on Australia and then previously New Zealand. And the members very, they are very self sufficient, but they, and they’re very appreciative of the contact that they have. And I must take the opportunity while I’ve got you here to thank you for your visit but also to thank those elders who have offered to pass through and have offered to speak with the members here. Because they do really appreciate that because I only get up here every six to eight weeks and all my other contact is either via telephone, texting or via WATS app messages. Whilst we’re harnessing technology there is nothing better than looking someone in the eyes and discussing either problems or counseling them or, and we haven’t perfected anointing over Skype yet. Victor, we’ll have to work on that one. But you know even things like, little things like anointings, they either wait for me to come or I have to put an anointed cloth in the post as we all do. And the postal system is very erratic up here and also into Indonesia where we have a member La Mae and I’ve had to send an anointed cloth up to her. And it’s taken sometimes three weeks to get to her. But we admire her faith, we admire her determination to seek God’s assistance in whatever health issues she’s been struggling with.
[Victor] Well I’ve just marveled about the work of the ministry in Australia and in this area, where people are so scattered and yet they’re not forgotten and they are cared for in a very very special way. But we want to thank you very much for joining on Inside United. We’re very grateful to have Grant and Kim with us and we are looking forward to hearing more good things about the workings of the church there. So thank you for joining us.
[Kim] Thank you very much.
[Grant] Thank you Victor.
[Victor] Thank you for joining us Inside United. We hope to see you again soon.