A willingness to drive for hours on end across some of the outback’s most remote country is not a usual prerequisite for a church minister, but for Rev Peter Wait, the new Tennant Barkly Patrol Minister for Frontier Services, it is absolutely essential.
Based in Tennant Creek, Peter will spend much of his time on the road travelling across the north of the Barkly region visiting people in hard-to-reach places, offering a listening ear and a helping hand.
The Tennant Barkly Patrol covers 600,000sq km of the Northern Territory, almost three
times the size of Victoria. Extending 200km south of Tennant Creek and north to Daly Waters, the region is known for its large cattle stations and rich connection to the local Aboriginal culture.
Peter will offer emotional and practical support to people across the Patrol, providing a source of spiritual care and trust that otherwise might not be there.
He will also be a part of the community in Tennant Creek and support the local Uniting Church congregation.
Peter was officially inducted as the Frontier Services Tennant Barkly Patrol Minister on Sunday 26 May at Tennant Creek Uniting Church.
Coming from Adelaide, Peter said he felt called to his new role in the outback with Frontier Services.
“It is privilege to serve in the tradition of Frontier Services and Uniting Church in remote Australia. I look forward to meeting people and having conversations about significant things,” Mr Wait said.
Peter has moved to the NT after spending five years working with church congregations in Adelaide. He has been a prison chaplain and is a former biochemical researcher and teacher. He worked as a teacher for two years in Barunga near Katherine and has spent time in Arnhem Land.
Like his work as a prison chaplain, Peter said the role of a Patrol Minister was simply to be there for people.
“We call it an incarnational ministry. We send a message by our physical presence. When we are there for people in hard to get places we embody God’s love for them.”
Peter is taking over from Rev John Flaherty who finished up as the Tennant Barkly Patrol Minister in May last year.
The history of the Tennant Barkly Patrol dates back to 1915 when Frontier Services’ predecessor, the Australian Inland Mission, first sent a Patrol Padre to the region.