- The Rev Ray Gormann
I have been a Uniting Church minister for just over 30 years, the vast majority in urban mission settings – I commenced ministry as a young family with my one year old daughter down at Geelong where I was for five years and my son was born just before we moved back to Melbourne. The good folk at Geelong could hardly believe the family was going to Melbourne but it softened the blow when we said we were going to St Kilda and the congregation could feel we were being sent out as missionaries.
The St Kilda years were a stretching, invigorating and often confronting time. This was in the 1990’s when there was a little bit of everything in St Kilda. Kind of like all these sub-cultures rubbing up against each other, but mostly pretty harmoniously. But you could see the gentrifcation was already underway. I had a lot to do with people living with mental health issues due to the St Kilda Drop In Centre which the congregation ran. I seem to have a record of longer ministries and was at St Kilda for 10 years before a move across the other side of town, but about the same distance from the city. Initially the placement was at SW Brunswick and St David’s but the congregation at SW Brunswick had pretty much outgrown their building so in a case of a very positive merger moved up to the prominent Sydney Rd site. Brunswick Uniting was, and remains, a extraordinarly gifted community doing great outreach into the community. So much so I stayed nearly 12 years.
I was being asked, “Where to from here” and did not really have an answer but a growing sense it would be good to have a spell out of congregational ministry and get out of my comfort zone so to speak. I was aware of a Presbytery funded position of Mental Health Chaplain at Sunshine Hospital, and felt a calling (as we say) to that. It was a good move but a massive culture shock and I had lots to learn – to name a few, working under the umbrella of “spirituality” and how to encourage sometimes pretty battered but resilient people to draw upon the strengths of their own spirituality to recover, the hospital system in general, and specifically the mental health system, and no longer being at the centre of a vital community that gathers for worship. After 3 and a half years the congregational minister in me was restless again. I did not move far, at least geographically, even if a long way in my head! and am now minister at the Sunshine congregation where I commenced in August 2015.
I live in Footscray with my partner Laura and have two adult children.
My name is Samita and my cultural background is Nepali. I grew up in a multicultural environment and hence I enjoy interacting with different cultural groups. In Australia, I have worked in the community sector for 13 years and some of my projects include the award winning community organic garden in NSW and the establishment of the Welcome Centres in South Australia. Sunshine Youth Centre has a huge potential to be a dynamic youth space and I am excited to be part of the team.
- Sam Rai
- Youth Centre Coordinator
Rev. Deacon Fiona Bottcher
Mental Health Ministry Co-ordinator
My ministry journey began as a volunteer at Olive Way, an “open door” space Brunswick Uniting Church that offers a place of welcome for those living on the margins. After a few years I became the program coordinator before following a call to ordained ministry as a Deacon.
I didn’t grow up “churched”. I’m an adult convert to Christianity and I love to grapple and wrestle with what it means to follow Christ in contemporary Australia. I love walking alongside people, sharing stories and sharing journeys, because this is where I’ve seen glimmers of hope in the here and now of very ordinary moments.
I’ve worked in a range of different ministry settings including a year placement at Boroondarra Community Outreach (BCO), a mental health ministry supporting people who are socially isolated or living with a mental illness to live with dignity and engage in community. I loved working within the BCO community and there is much from this experience that I hope I bring to my role as the Mental Health Ministry Coordinator at Sunshine Uniting Church.
My role is divided between Sunshine Hospital providing pastoral care for patients experiencing mental illness and the “open door” community space here at the church. We offer a range of activities at Sunshine Uniting, from mindfulness exercises to arts and craft, available to anyone interested in improving their mental wellbeing. We aim to provide a welcoming place to meet with others who live with busy brains! For more information please contact me at:
email@example.com, 0421 027 467.