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Superintendent Writes

Sunday, 20th February, 2005

In 1965, Beverley and I commenced a temporary ministry in Ararat while waiting to go to the US for graduate studies. One month later I realised that there was a desperate need to do something to help the youth in the community. I decided to bring to Ararat the leading sportsmen in Australia, the leading bands, the leading teenage singers and television personalities. I would give the youth good entertainment and at the same time a strong Christian challenge to find purpose in their life.

With no money, no organisation, I sent 2,000 young people a personal letter inviting them to a series of activities. I drew up a list of the most famous people in Australia and I wrote to them inviting them to come to Ararat. The Prime Minister Mr Menzies, wrote back commending what we were doing. The then Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, paid a visit and indicated that what we were doing in Ararat was beyond anything he had seen in any other community in Victoria. On Thursday, 16th July, 1964, the front page of the newspaper read “Sydney Church Leader Commends Teen Week” and reads “Rev. Alan Walker of Sydney, who was awarded of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen for his church work in Australia, has commended Ararat’s Teen Week”. Neither Gordon Powell nor Alan Walker would come to Ararat at the invitation of a 25 year old minister in a small country church but at least they sent their encouragement which was featured in the “Ararat Advertiser”.

Every League footballer I asked agreed to come together with Olympic athletes, top entertainers, television personalities and others designed to bring young people together to hear a challenge to Christian commitment. We launched Teen Week with a free meal for 600 young people. More than a thousand attended the opening night’s programme. Each day and each night in the schools, in the Town Hall and in the main community centre outstanding personalities spoke about the need of purpose, direction and goals in life. The result was beyond our estimation. The buildings were crowded. The programme was paid for. Hundreds of young people came into contact with the Christian message. Four thousand, five hundred people attended in one week in a community that had only 5,000 people in it. Over a thousand attended the final meeting in the Town Hall. There were 261 commitments to Jesus Christ. The little church was suddenly packed out. Membership increased by more than 300%. Bible studies became crowded and our old buildings were inadequate. We demolished the buildings and built a huge new youth hall and kitchen. I drew up plans for new halls, a kitchen, a manse and a rebuilt Church. It has taken time but last weekend it was all complete and I opened the rebuilt church forty years later! When we went back to the country town of Ararat, hundreds spoke about that remarkable week and its impact upon their lives until this day.

 

This is Gordon Moyes.


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