People came from near and far yesterday for a moving celebration at the Dallas Brooks Centre to celebrate the Centenary of the establishment of the Australian Inland Mission.
Rev Gregor Henderson, Chair of the John Flynn Foundation and former member of the AIM Board and Frontier Services Committee, gave a rousing welcome and call to worship, individually recognising, with a show of hands and impromptu cheers, those who had travelled from each of the states and territories of Australia to be there.
Mr Henderson also gave special mention to the many former AIM and Frontier Services staff present including at least four people in the audience who were present at the 50th anniversary celebrations.
Aboriginal Elder Joy Wandin Murphy gave a heartfelt Welcome to Country recognising the traditional owners of the land and reflected on her own family’s “sense of belonging to the places they belong”.
In a symbolic gesture of coming together, bottles of water from each of the different parts of Australia where Frontier Services works were brought forward to the stage and poured into the one vessel, appropriately, an outback water tank.
A video was played showing various members of the Indigenous communities where Frontier Services is present giving their own Welcome to Place and warm wishes for the centenary celebration.
Frontier Services Patron Tim Fischer AC then gave the formal welcome sharing his own reflections on John Flynn and the AIM and the ‘four Ps’ – Practical, Positive, Pastoral and Proactive -which have been part of the organisation for the 100 years.
Former AIM Patrol Padre Colin Ford offered the Prayer of Thanksgiving before an address was given by the Hon Simon Crean, Minister for Regional Australia.
“What strikes me as Flynn’s greatest attribute is that he not only saw the problem and came up with the solution, he delivered the solution,” Mr Crean said.
“Despite the advances made in medicine and transport over the past century, Flynn’s vision carries on in you and your colleagues. The hard work and humility of the early years have left a legacy of service to the community.”
“I pay tribute to all who’ve committed themselves to this cause and I am confident you have a bright future. Rev John Flynn’s legacy is in good hands.”
President of the Uniting Church Rev Andrew Dutney shared the Message reflecting on John Flynn’s sense of call from God and his discernment that “My place is in Australia” and how we are all called to reflect on how we are called today.
The service included songs written especially for the Centenary including the first performance of the song “Resilient and Free”, written by Bruce Prewer and Colin Brumby and performed memorably on the night by the choir and Frontier Services staff.
Ted Egan gave a stirring performance of a song he had written, inspired by John Flynn, with the audience joining in for the chorus “John Flynn, what mighty man, and his vision for the outback was a truly wonderful plan.”
By the end of the night, none were left in doubt that indeed Flynn’s plan was wonderful and continues to be so.