from w Christmas tree O Christmas tree how beautiful you stand.... but have you seen the red and white cardboard structure they call a tree - in Geelong's Mall? Even our new Mayor says it's the most ugly tree in the world. Yeah, very ugly shapes and it cost $30,000 according to the local paper. Now that would buy a lot of seedlings to plant lovely real trees somewhere! The trees decorated ($1000 each) by the Primary School children are okay. The origin of a tree as a blessing goes way back in history -the evergreen being symbolic, and then Luther's story of seeing stars shining through a pine tree started the tradition of a special tree at Christmas. But commercialisation and all the wrapped presents etc. changed the beauty and simplicity of Luther's tree. Peceli and I were in town today for a Chinese snack lunch and I took a few photos. I like the greenish tree with hands best. I liked the bare tree decoration inside Market Square near the upstairs lunch area, reminded me of the Jesse tree which is one Christmas custom where symbols are placed on a bare tree.
Of course a Nativity Scene would be more appropriate and they used to have one not far from Johnstone Park. Perhaps the new Mayor and Councillors need to consult with the Geelong church communities who know a little more about what Christmas is about!
From the Geelong Advertiser: IS Geelong's Christmas tree the ugliest going around? Or is it Nordic trendy and up to the minute? Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons did not mince his words when asked about the $30,000 effort. ``It's a disgrace,'' Cr Lyons said. ``It's the worst Christmas tree in the world.'' ``I totally understand the lack of creativity over the years. ``And having starfish in the streets - I won't be having any more starfish next year. ``I am working on a number of different plans and we will be working with a Melbourne-based company.''
Cr Lyons had just come from a meeting with a firm called Creative Production Services, which he said had been responsible for some of the constructions to appear in Fed Square, and who would be doing Geelong's Christmas decorations next year. ``They're the guys that did the King Kong hand on the Eureka Tower,'' he said. Cr Lyons said one thing that had worked this year were the Christmas trees put together by children from various primary schools. One thing for certain can be said about the tree in the mall - everybody has an opinion. When the Geelong Advertiser posted a question about it on the Addy's Facebook, nearly 200 people commented on it. One mother said her five-year-old daughter laughed when told it was a Christmas tree. Fairlie Pritchard posted that if the budget allowed the Christmas decorations could be more extravagant. ``However, the budget given was minimal, and the best was done with that,'' she wrote.
Greetings for the Holy Season of Christmas as we once again welcome the Christ Child. The year 2013 has been mainly a good year. We seniors are slowing down a lot though with a few health issues to attend to, but God continues to keep us safe and optimistic. Our church connection is still East Geelong Uniting. we have an excellent minister who is originally from Tonga. I play the music most Sundays – piano or organ, and the grandsons are in the Sunday School. Peceli is still connected with Altona Meadows/Laverton and now the small Fijian group have joined the morning (English language) congregation. Peceli and I enjoyed some weekends early in the year at Colac when Peceli helped there with pastoral visits and Sunday services. Lovely meeting with the country people there.
Our house is still full with Peceli, me, George, Bale when she’s not working at Lorne, grandsons Jordan (16) and Andrew (14) who go to Geelong High School, Epa pops in occasionally and Andrew Senior who normally lives in Nukualova with his wife Eka and daughter Linlay, came over for the Masters and throwing events and has stayed on a couple of months. We take turns in cooking and tidying up. There are two guinea pigs as well, Izzie named after the Hawaiian guitar player, and Fuzzie who has a white ruff like Geelong’s new mayor. Our Fiji Friendship Club continues to meet in the homes of members – and this means kava drinking, a delicious shared meal, stories and music.
We don’t see much of my extended Lay/Collins families though we did get together at Bacchus Marsh for the scattering of the ashes – a year since Auntie Mary Collins had passed away. In Swan Hill the City Council there put up a plaque to honour Dad in the George Lay Park.
Early in the year we went to Airey’s Inlet for five days – a Rotary dinner silent auction treat. A beautiful quiet place where I took photos and made some drawings. Our second holiday for the year was to Fiji and Tonga – one week for a family wedding in Nadi, where it was a delight to have one to one talks with younger relatives that I hadn’t seen for a long time. Then we flew to Tonga to stay with Andrew, Eka and Linlay in Nukualofa. That week was relaxed and with perfect weather.
Regarding sports and hobbies – most of our family play tennis nearly every day. Andrew plays Aussie Rules footie also and Jordan has recovered very well from his second surgery regarding his knee problem at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne - crutches for about four months. He’s allowed to play tennis, swim, and touch but not footie yet.
We are still volunteers at the Rotary Donation in Kind but containers to Fiji are fraught with difficulties at the other end. There’s more stories and pictures about our family and concerns on facebook and two blogs. We are disappointed with the Uniting Church in Victoria which meant the loss of our church tennis courts to help pay a huge debt caused by incompetence in Melbourne. But life goes on with good surprises and grace.
from w Even though the tennis courts were sold at auction yesterday, our adults and children can continue to play for the next three or four months before dismantling the fences, nets, clubroom. The buyer comes from Geelong so that is better than a speculator from Melbourne. There were about sixteen players there today. Now they will have to relocate, built another clubroom, renovate courts in the Breakwater area, lots of work ahead.
Auction stopped in tracks but what about me, it isn't fair!
from w Two articles - one in the Age and one in the Herald Sun spell out the results of the Uniting Church fire-sale of property. Lucky for some that were saved, but alas our tennis courts in East Geelong were sold, but for less than the $1 million that was expected. I felt that all our energetic protests over four weeks were a failure but as one guy said, we were part of the general protest that put pressure on the Uniting Church to be aware that the numerous faith communities named in their list were really disturbed by the process and many churches were saved in the end. But certainly not tennis courts which were the first to go on the 21 Properties auction day.
Uniting Church auction nets $56m from nine properties to pay Acacia College debts
Nine properties were auctioned off to pay for Uniting Church debts.Source: SuppliedNINE Uniting Church properties were auctioned today to pay debt arising from the closure of Acacia College but 12 more were saved from the hammer by Melbourne's "buoyant'' property market.
Churches, tennis courts and land from around Victoria were all on the list of properties up for sale as the Uniting Church tried to repay the $32 million debt left from the college's failure.
There were 21 properties listed to be auctioned today but nine were enough to cover the Uniting Church's requirements.
The church stopped the auction after reaching total sales of $56 million, which includes nine properties sold today and others over the past three weeks.
Properties sold today include the church building, hall and vacant land at 6-8 Hemming St, Brighton East, for $3.25 million and the church building and hall at 489-491 Highett Rd, Highett, for $3.5 million.
Uniting Church Synod Victoria and Tasmania general secretary Rev Mark Lawrence said the "buoyant property market'' enabled the church to reach its target funds while minimising the impact on congregations.
"Today the auction began with vacant land, tennis courts and vacant churches, and placed the active worship centres further down the list," Dr Lawrence said.
"A number of other listed properties, which have yet to exchange contracts or be auctioned, will no longer be offered for sale," he said.
"The property sales process began three weeks ago. In that time a number of residential properties have been sold at auction, six properties have been sold as part of a portfolio sale and four others have been privately negotiated.
"Clearly, many people have been disrupted by this and some congregations and agencies will still have to move as a result of successful sales. I want to thank the people of the Uniting Church for walking together through these very hard few months."
Other properties sold today were:
* Five tennis courts, hall and 10 carparks at 14 Mullum Mullum Rd, Ringwood, for $1.89 million
* Two tennis courts at 20a Broughton Rd, Surrey Hills for $1.76 million
* Vacant land at 3 Victoria Rd, Sydenham, for $720,000
* Three tennis courts and a small sheltered canopy at 50-52 Blackburn Rd, Blackburn for $1.55 million
* Three tennis courts and small weatherboard clubhouse at 39 Denman St, Geelong East, for $850,000
* Church building at 188-198 Gatehouse St, Parkville, for $1.235 million
* Church building, two small halls and two carparks at 31 East Boundary Rd, Bentleigh East, for nearly $2.1 million
Properties that did not end up being auctioned include a church, hall and land at 15 Herald St, Cheltenham; church and hall at 15 The Crossway, Strathmore; church, hall and office at 103 Koonung Rd, Blackburn North; church, two units and a hall at 70-74 Melville Rd, Brunswick West; church and dwelling at 2a Laurel St and 19 Panton St, Bendigo; church, hall, shed and land at 14 and 18a Barkly St, Ballarat; church, hall and dwelling at 36 and 36a Pleasant St South, Ballarat; church, hall and carparking at 70 Wheatsheaf Rd, Glenroy; and church, hall and land at 64-68 Anderson St, Lilydale.
Uniting Church halts controversial auctions after hitting target
Joan Chambers, a member of Ballarat's Pleasant St church and an opponent of the Uniting Church auctions, is pictured in front of St Andrews Church, which was passed in for $2.5 million.
The Uniting Church stopped its controversial sale of 21 church buildings half-way through the auction on Wednesday after reaching its $56 million financial target, acknowledging the sale process had caused ‘‘significant’’ pain for its congregation.
Members of the church’s faithful mingled with 200 prospective buyers looking to snap up property at a ‘‘never to be repeated’’ fire sale of church buildings and land scattered across metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Echuca and Bendigo.
The church resolved in May to sell about 1 per cent of its substantial property holdings to recover debts of about $36 million it lost after the collapse of its school, Acacia College, last year.
Twenty-one properties were to be auctioned on Wednesday.The assets up for sale included many historic churches, as well as vacant land, suburban tennis courts and commercial buildings.
One heritage church hall in Parkville sold for $1.25 million but another majestic cathedral-style church in Sturt Street, Ballarat failed to attract a single bid.
St Andrews Uniting Church in Ballarat, a large Victorian-era bluestone structure, passed in for $2.5 million dollars on a vendor bid.
The Church Synod, which has faced angry criticism from parishioners opposed to the sale of their places of worship, managed to settle on $16.4 million of property before pulling the plug on the auction leaving many would-be buyers disappointed, but its parishioners delighted.
‘‘I’m absolutely thrilled,’’ said Balwyn church member Graham Beanland after Colliers International auctioneer John Bowring told the congregation of buyers the remaining 10 properties had been withdrawn.
Among them were two other historic Ballarat churches and a large cathedral in Bendigo.
Last week the Church Synod was told by retired County Court judge Ross Howie the sale of the properties may be unlawful without the approval of congregations.
‘‘The decision to end the auction early does not remove the pain and uncertainty this divestment program has caused the people of the Uniting Church,’’ the Synod’s general secretary Mark Lawrence said.
‘‘There are still challenging times ahead as congregations prepare to leave their beloved places of worship,’’ he said.
The Church is believed to have sold up to 35 properties, including the nine that changed hands at Wednesday’s auction.
The divestiture will affect eight active church congregations, he said
Now about that 'passing the peace' that's become a customary part of our Sunday church gathering at East Geelong. Some people are shy, some are enthusiastic, hugs, an Indian namaste, a wet kiss on the mouth. Anything goes! Our preacher this morning talked to the kids about how we got the right handshake - enemies put down their swords and shields and offered their right hands - (sword hand). Then I asked him, What about the mollydukers? He said they are an interesting lot. Hands up lefthanders? There were seven of us - one tenth of the people. Okay. so when we followed this with 'passing the peace' there was a bit of chaos as we all did our own things about greeting! Left left, right right, left right, hugs. double-handed to greet a woman recovering from surgery. No kiwi nose bump (though there were NZ visitors present) or sniff kisses from old Fijian ladies.
from w After all our discussion on getting a graffiti picture on the brick wall, or a large wooden nativity on top of a rooftop, we now have a scene in the narthex, protected from mischievous lads in the community. Mary and the very large baby are blond but that's how plenty of people think of the scene - in their own likeness I suppose. Anyway it does get the focus of Christmas away from the tinsel and mad shopping.
And here are two fun additions to the nativity scene - not ours - but in Melbourne, perhaps Preston way. A facebook friend added her kids' little guinea pigs to the scene!
And the other - the wise men are watching TV, cricket of course.
Introducing Peceli and Wendy. Babasiga (pronounced bambasinga) is the dry land of Macuata in northern Fiji - our place in the sun in Fiji. The town is Labasa and our village is Vatuadova and the beach is Nukutatava. We are part of Wailevu Fijian tribe with relatives in Mali Island and Naseakula village. Peceli was born in Labasa and Wendy is an Australian and today live in Geelong, Australia.
Babasiga (pronounced bambasinga) is the dry land of Macuata in northern Fiji - our place in the sun in Fiji. Peceli is from Fiji from the village is Vatuadova and the beach is Nukutatava. Peceli Ratawa passed away on 27th December 2015 so this is Wendy's blog now. Wendy is an Australian and today live in Geelong, Australia.