Friday, July 29, 2016

Sharing wealth

The gospel reading in the lectionary on Sunday - Luke 12: 13-21 - lends itself to some thought on hanging on to wealth and possessions which is relevant in today's world. And here's a modern story that fits.
In Berriwillock, a very small country town in Victoria, Australia,  a group of farmers were thinking about not building bigger barns but of sharing in the bounty when the harvest was plentiful. This is the Berriwillock Wheat Scheme, Every year, when there is not a drought, several Australian and overseas organisations receive a substantial donation from the Berriwillock Church Wheat Scheme. Started in 1953 by Birchip farmer Alan McClelland and a group from the Berriwillock Uniting Church, the group has working bees, donating the machinery and labour to grow 150 acres of wheat. Peceli and I visited one time when about ten tractors were all working on the same block preparing the soil for planting. Alan's son Warrick provided the land on his property, Windarra, and expenses have been kept very low as only seed and fertilizer must be purchased. Apart from the obvious value of co-ordinating organisational effort, the second aspect is that the program model being adopted provides an opportunity for sponsoring organisations with more traditional welfare approaches to participate in a new initiative.
Some years, the crops have failed and the Berriwillock Wheat Scheme that has written cheques for an eclectic mix of charities and causes since 1953 — from land mine victims to schools, hospitals, boats in Fiji, transport for a minister to link up with Aboriginal communities, and groups fighting depression — are unable to make a distribution.
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