Mission Block reunion

by Joan Grosse

Over forty interstate visitors with connections to Finke River Mission (FRM) joined locals on the June 14-16 weekend to celebrate over 75 years of God’s work on the Alice Springs Mission Block and 50 years since the opening of the Children’s Cottages.

The Mission Block was originally purchased by Missionary FW Albrecht in 1938. Since then, the Mission Block provided a place to stay, a place to train and teach others, a place to distribute food and clothing, a place to meet and a place of worship – all of this work still continues today. The Old Church is now a valued meeting room and museum/archive. With God’s grace the Mission Block will continue to serve as an important base for our church in the centre for many years to come.

The Mission Block reunion program was drawn up by the ‘Old Church History Team’ of Olga Radke, Tony Collins and Christine & Karl Benz. The official welcome on Saturday afternoon gave current FRM Board chairman, Tim Stollznow the opportunity to thank all past and present FRM staff and supporters for their work. He reminded the gathering that, ‘Those Mission seeds planted long ago and nurtured throughout the years, now include 30 pastors covering 40 communities and 6000 Aboriginal people who identify as Lutheran in Central Australia. With God’s grace the Mission Block will continue to serve as an important base for our church in the centre for many years to come.’ The work and presence of both past FRM Board Chairman Mostyn Keller & Superintendent Garry Stoll, who both served FRM for over 40 years was acknowledged.

A thanksgiving service was held on Sunday morning. During this service in the ‘new’ church, a video message (in both English and Aranda) from Pastor Paul Albrecht (former FRM field superintendent) was screened. Pastor Max Stollznow who had previously worked in Alice Springs and at Papunya also spoke. Prior to the benediction, the officiating pastors led the congregation out to the old gum tree, the site of the first worship services in Alice Springs, where the Aboriginal choir sang and Pastor Simon Dixon spoke and prayed.

Sunday afternoon included a tour of Yirara College, a stop at the old Alice Springs cemetery where identities such as evangelist Martin and artist Albert Namatjira are buried, and a visit to Living Waters Lutheran School. Monday was spent at Hermannsburg attending the local school’s closing service in the church, listening to the children sing outside, reminiscing and walking around the historical precinct, and meeting up with local people – a very special time.