Janine van den Tillaart
BCA has a proud association with the Parish of Croajingolong – our founder SJ Kirkby first travelled there by foot in 1921 and in 1922, Cann River became just the third location that BCA supported in both church ministry and through nurses who served in the surrounding area. We are delighted to announce that BCA is once again partnering with the parish and welcome Jude & Andy Benton as new Field Staff.
Originally from New Zealand, Jude & Andy have been in Australia since 2014 after accepting work in regional Victoria. Since 2018 they have been in Mallacoota where Jude took up the role of Priest-in-Charge Charge of the Cooperating Parish of Croajingolong.
“The last permanent priest in the parish had left over five years earlier,” says Jude. “While the parish had been well served by locum ministry and retired clergy, there was a real need for an intentional and energetic ministry presence that would enable regular ministry to be established and for long-term planning to occur… all in a part-time role.”
On New Year’s Eve 2019 the parish was devastated by a horrific bushfire – over 100 homes were destroyed and one of Jude’s parishioners lost his life attempting to defend his property. “We had the opportunity to evacuate both before and immediately after the fire, but Andy and I chose to stay believing that this was an opportunity for ministry that I needed to take,” says Jude.
Since the fires, Jude has not only been kept busy in her role as Priest-in-Charge but through her involvement in the recovery management team as well as conveying the practical and pastoral needs of the community to government officials.
Jude’s now full-time role will continue into the future with funding from BCA. “BCA is excited to be able to return to supporting a parish with such a strong historical link to our Society,” says National Director Greg Harris. “I pray that the good news of the gospel will continue to bring great hope to the people of this region so devastated in recent months.”
Any plans that Jude had for 2020 have changed dramatically. “Our plan is about quiet support, food parcels, arranging grants, maintaining a routine of ministry and learning to spend lots of time on the phone and Skype. We pray that we can get the parish through the bushfire recovery and COVID-19 crisis intact, emotionally as whole as possible, and spiritually supported and growing – ‘We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.’ (Proverbs 16:9)”