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MINISTER’S REPORT
Rev Jacob Yang

I would like to say thanks to all the members of the congregation.  Especially many office bearers have worked hard with their hearts.  We have tried many things to be a faithful community this year.

One of significant changes in the congregation was that Rev. Faama Leota moved his placement to another church in early 2017.  We also invited Tim Womersley into our church as a Youth Worker.

I would like to say a few things which happened in 2017 and which will be important matters for our future.

1)  The Regional Network is a very important matter for the congregation.  Whether we want or not, our region is being changed enormously.  We have to cooperate with neighboring churches and also with the Presbytery and the Synod.  Deepdene, East Kew, Habitat, Joong-ang, West Hawthorn and Boroondara Outreach Community decided to cooperate together to seek the best way for the mission of God in the area.

As a result, we have to go further together toward the unknown future. 
Each congregation has walked on their own path for quite a long time, whether it is for 150 years, or for 100 years.  Until now, we have walked on different roads, but from now on, we have to try to walk on the same path toward the common vision to recreate this area for the kingdom of God.

2)  We have tried to settle down as a cross-cultural church.  Although in the beginning we separated to hear sermons in our own languages during the worship, now we sit together on the same pews from beginning to the end of worship.  I believe that we need to sit together throughout the entire worship.  More and more, people are recognising our church as a cross-cultural church.  They want to know about cross-cultural church life through our church.  So the Synod filmed our church life as a cross-cultural church to share with others.  The Synod put the film of our church life on the website of Synod.

3)  Many Korean churches in Korea recognise that our church has had relationship with Australian mission to Korea.  In April and May, about 30 members of the Zion City church in Busan visited and worshipped at Deepdene.  More and more, churches in Korea are recognising our church as a bearer of Korean mission history.  People are losing some past connections with history, however, nowadays, many churches in Busan area, want to know the history of mission relationship between Australia and Korea.  In this matter, our church has an important role to help visitors from Korea.

This year, many members of Deepdene are now resting with our Father.  John Wardlaw, Helen Glenn, Jean Provan, Dalys Grant, Susan Stevens and Dr. John Shepherd, all were faithful members.  I believe that they will pray for us in heaven.

I would like to say special thanks for your encouragement when my father passed away.  Because of your support, I was able to have a special time with my family in Korea.

I thank all our church members.  We have worked so hard.  I believe that we are a community blessed by God.


CHURCH COUNCIL REPORT
Joan Cooper, Co-Chairperson
Bae-yi Kim, Co-Chairperson
Anthony Cooper, Secretary

2017 began with our farewell service to Rev Faama Leota and his family, who took a placement at Hoppers Crossing Uniting Church.  In early February we held a cutting of the ties service with the assistance of Rev Morag Logan (Presbytery) and our own Rev Jacob Yang.  We are thankful to Faama and to God for his five years of ministry with us.  We particularly remember his Easter Saturday Vigil with its bonfires outdoors; his offering of ‘Blue Christmas’ to provide a safe space and comfort for grief at Christmas time; and his commitment to ministering at Trinity Manor nursing home in Deepdene.  Some members attended his induction service, which was full of singing and celebration, and followed by a generous multicultural meal. 

Rev Jacob Yang has capably led and supported our members through the year. Our move to an integrated, bilingual service each week has led to a greater feeling of community. This places a large burden on Jacob to present the sermon in both languages, which happens each week.  We appreciate his warmth and care for all, and his spiritual leadership.  He regularly attends activities outside of worship like Friendship Circle and English Conversation.  We thank his family for their help with the computer slides for our services.

After a long search we were pleased to appoint Tim Womersley as Youth Worker two days per week, from September 2017.  He is ideally placed for this role, with experience in youth work and a sound knowledge of Korean language and culture.  He has quickly established good relationships with our young people and the rest of the congregation, and we look forward to seeing what they will achieve together.  This work is funded through the interest from our property sales proceeds (interest-only-mission-fund IOMF) and we are grateful to Presbytery of Yarra Yarra for their support.  Thanks to Ros Lowe for leading the recruitment process.

The English Conversation for Overseas Students group celebrated its thirty-year anniversary in 2017!  We congratulate and acknowledge Barbara and Lindsay Herbert, and their volunteers, for this commitment to service for others for so long.  This group continues to meet on Friday nights (now 7-9pm) through the year except January.

Our appreciation goes to Rhonda Menz who continues to manage capably our administration tasks especially our property rentals.  With the University of the Third Age, ECOS and several commercial tenants, the property is used for several different activities every day. 

Beyond Deepdene, we thank Ros Lowe and Joan Cooper for their representation on the Boroondara Interim Regional Network of the Uniting Church.  In October our congregation voted to become part of the new permanent regional network.  Over time this will mean greater co-operation between the five churches, including combining finances.  The Asset Strategy Programme will need to be reinstated and reviewed.  We hope to see this bearing fruit with financial support for the Boroondara Community Outreach ministry in future.  Joan Taylor, Anthony Cooper, Bae Yi Kim and Rev Jacob Yang will be our representatives on the new Joint Church Council.

We appreciate Lindsay Herbert’s representation on Presbytery: his summaries of the Presbytery news have kept us connected to the wider church. 

Thanks to a generous gift from the Guerin family, we were excited to install a tea and coffee station in the church building.  We thank the Guerins: as well as the Herberts, Kevin Kang and Jason Kim for the design and installation.  This makes it easier for us to provide hospitality in church at the end of our services.

We were pleased to be part of a videography project for the Synod website.  Rev David Withers, Ros Marsden and a video crew visited us in December and later produced three short videos.  They highlighted our intercultural life together and we hope they inspire others in the same direction. 

We continue to rely on the service of a limited number of volunteers, many of whom take on several tasks.  There are too many to list here!  Thank you to all of you.  Many people enjoy lunch after worship each week, thanks to Sue Yang and her small group of helpers.  We particularly acknowledge Joan Taylor for her careful work with our finances.  Special thanks to Joan Cooper and Bae Yi Kim as Co-Chairs of Church Council for 2017.  They have given us vision and leadership to develop a cohesive group.

Challenges ahead will include planning the future of our ministry team and provision of a permanent disabled bathroom at church level. Our opportunity will be to work with our brothers and sisters in Christ in our area network. 


FINANCIAL REPORT
Joan Taylor, Honorary Treasurer

2017 was a very different year from previous years, in terms of the financial performance of the church.  Whilst in previous years, expenditure has consistently exceeded income, and the congregation has been running down reserves, the financial summary for 2017 shows that operating income for the year was approximately equal to expenditure for the year.

However, this result needs to be viewed cautiously as a number of unusual factors contributed strongly to this result:
  • The church reduced its ministry team to one full-time minister, when Faama Leota accepted a call to another church
  • The church leased the vacant second manse at commercial rates
  • A youth worker was not appointed until late in the year
  • The interest on the Interest Only Mission Fund (IOMF) held on behalf of the church, at the Synod was greater than anticipated.
These factors meant that expenditure for the year was lower than budgeted and that income was higher.

In 2016, approval was given by the UC Synod for the Deepdene congregation to use, for missional purposes, the interest on the proceeds of property sale proceeds of church properties.  The proceeds from these sales were approximately $3.4 million.

2017 was the first full year in which this interest was received.  The Deepdene church adopted a conservative estimate of the interest to be received.  In the event, the interest received was considerably greater.

The original arrangements for the receipt of interest by the Deepdene church was for two years only and for missional purposes.  At the time the arrangement was put in place, the two year period was linked with the time it was anticipated it would take for additional sources of income from property to be created through property developments under the Asset Strategy Program of the West Boroondara region.  As these developments have progressed more slowly than anticipated, it seems likely that Deepdene will continue to have access to this interest after the two year period has expired.

The status of the interest which has been received and which has not been applied, already, to missional purposes is uncertain.

It should be noted that the reduction in the ministry team and the delay in the appointment of the youth worker both had a potential impact on the mission of the church in 2017..

Income for the year was much higher than budgeted, primarily because the second manse was leased, for six months, at commercial rates.

In addition, donations and fund raising for specific purposes were strong – both for use within the church, and for winder ministry.  These funds were used mainly for the construction of a much needed morning tea facility in the church and a security fence to ensure the safety of the children, and for donations to the Share Appeal, Uniting World and a North Korean mission.

Expenses were much lower than budgeted ($192,000 compared with $274,000), largely because of the non-appointment of a second minister and the delayed appointment of a youth worker.

Operating income and operating expenditure for the year were approximately equal. 

Recognizing that the status of the interest on the IOMF that has not been used for missional purposes is uncertain, and with clear guidelines to the interpretation of missional purposes, the auditors’ instructions were to show the interest as non-operational in the financial report.

At year end, the church held in excess of $200,000 in the Commonwealth Bank operating account plus two Uniting Church Funds accounts, compared with $70,000 at the start of the year.  But it is important to recognize that the status of these additional funds is uncertain.

An audit report on the 2017 accounts has been received.  The report contains a qualification.  The auditor acknowledges that it is impracticable for the church to establish more control over the counting and banking of offerings and for the audit procedures to monitor this more closely.  With this qualification, the auditor’s opinion is that the financial reports present fairly in accordance with established accounting policies, the financial position of the Deepdene Uniting Church as at 31 December 2017 and its financial performance for the year.
2018 Budget

Details of the assumptions underpinning the budget appear as notes to the statement.

Some items require special comment:

The budget assumes that the church will again, in 2018, receive a full year’s interest on the Interest Only Mission Fund.

It also assumes that our level of offerings will remain constant in 2018.  This may be optimistic but is presented as a goal to strive for. 

Serious efforts have been made to ensure that the church halls are tenanted to capacity for 2018.  New licences with tenants have been negotiated at slightly increased rates on those charged in 2017.

Ministerial stipends and the youth worker salary have been adjusted in line with a directive from the UCA Synod relating to ministerial stipends and charges.

It is assumed that a part time minister (0.5) will be appointed by July 2018, that the second manse will no longer be available for commercial rental from then, and that youth worker will be employed for the full year, although this will require permission to extend the contract from Presbytery and Synod.  It is recognized, however, that during the period when the Uniting Churches in Boroondara West are exploring opportunities for co-operation in terms of ministry and property, there may be limits on the capacity of the church to make these arrangements.

The audit of the church flats and manses by the Synod in the latter part of 2017 has identified some urgent and quite expensive work to be undertaken in 2018 and this is reflected in the 2018 budget.

Following instruction from the auditor, the interest from the IOMF is shown in two parts in the financial statements.  That part which covers costs that are missional (youth worker $36,000, 0.5 minister for six months $38,000, mission activity $40,000, youth expenses $4,000 = total $82,000) appears in the Operating Account, whilst the residual ($2,000) is shown as a non-operational income.





CHURCH COUNCIL COMMITTEES

PROPERTY & SAFETY COMMITTEE
Lindsay Herbert, Convenor

The stringent constraint on expenditure of past years is now relieved by the congregation’s access to  funds from the Interest Only Mission Fund.  However, as the congregation is now part of the Boroondara West Network of UCA congregations, care is still needed to avoid to avoid large expenditures until the long term future of our church site is confirmed.   Major expenditures will probably be subject to oversight by the network council.

Ordinary maintenance has included: replacement of the stolen (copper) downpipes, , installation of an audio system, rebuilding of the laundry- exterior toilet at the flats, repair of the retaining wall on the East side of the tennis courts, replacing the exterior lighting of the carpark area and installation of child security gates across the laneway. A major achievement for the year was the installation of plumbing and a kitchenette/cupboard at the back of the church, made possible by a generous donation from Joy Guerin and her family. This cupboard, which includes a dishwasher, has made the provision of morning tea after worship a much easier and safer task than it has been in the past for those on the morning tea roster.

The willing workers of the congregation have made much of the above possible.

PASTORAL CARE
John Cooper, Convenor

The Committee met on four occasions, on Sunday afternoons.  Joan Cooper acted as secretary.  Communion was celebrated on the first Sunday of each month. 

We welcomed visiting ministers – Rev Dr Philip Creed, Rev John Cranmer, Rev Natalie Dixon-Monu, Rev Swee-Ahn Koh, Rev Mark Dunn and Mr Sol Koh (candidate for ministry).

Our membership at the end of 2017 consisted of 155 members:
            Communicant members 92
            Baptised members                    37
            Adherents                                 26

The Church Roll continued to be updated to more accurately reflect congregation membership.  People taking communion each month usually numbered between 70 and 90.

We gave thanks for the lives of those who died during the year:
Helen Glenn                  John Wardlaw
Jean Provan                 Dalys Grant
Susan Stevens              John Shepherd
We also acknowledge the passing of Arthur Anderson and Peter Sutherland, both former but very active members of this congregation over so many years.


PUBLIC RELATIONS

Responsibility for the co-ordination and advertising of the congregations’ various activities was undertaken by a number of members.

Real estate firm Nelson Alexander willingly supplied advertising boards for which we are most grateful.  Church Council also commenced consultations with various parties regarding the possible content and erection of noticeboards advertising church activities and those of our tenants.

Both English and Korean websites continue to be updated regularly and we thank those responsible.  The Korean website address is www.faqcebook.com/deepdeneUC and the English website can be accessed at www.ucadeepdene.info


SOCIAL CONCERNS COMMITTEE
Anthony Cooper, Convenor

This group met every two months approximately.  Our main focus was on practical activities towards our continuing support of the ‘Operation Christmas Child’ boxes for Samaritan’s Purse.  In September 2017 Anthony Cooper was pleased to deliver 27 boxes for the project to Mitcham. 

Grateful thanks to all who brought items to be sent overseas for children in need:  many of you have been so generous that we have a head start for next year’s boxes!  With help from the children and some adults, we were able to decorate several boxes for 2018, like some exciting tigers and leopards. 

Thanks too to our local shoe shops and members for donating unwanted boxes.  It is good to be able to reuse them.

With encouragement and careful planning by Joan Cooper, many members – including the children - have made greeting cards again this year.  These are sold to raise funds for overseas water projects through Uniting World.  This has raised enough money to fund four wells to date. 

Selected campaigns from Justice and International Mission Unit have been brought to members’ attention for their individual action. 

It would be great to have more hands for this work – new helpers are always welcome.  My thanks to those who come along.

WORSHIP & EDUCATION
Rev Jacob Yang, Convenor

Jacob Yang, Sunday School teachers and Youth Worker Tim Womersley are members of the Educational Committee.  Tim was invited as a Youth Worker to Deepdene in October to look after our young people.  The Committee agreed to follow the lectionary bible passages each Sunday.  Sue Yang looked after early children, and Anthony Cooper and Joan Cooper taught primary school children.  Jong-min Kim taught the Youth Group and we thank him for his energy and great contribution.  The committee continues to discuss and co-operate to nurture our next generation.


CONGREGATION ORGANISATIONS, OUTREACH & ASSOCIATIONS

Primary Sunday School
Joan & Anthony Cooper

Sunday School met early in 2017 to create a gift for Rev Faama Leota as he left the congregation.  Inspired by the Jeannie Baker book “Circle,” the children decorated “Doves of Peace” that were pictured flying over the sea.  The children presented this gift to Faama at his farewell lunch, and he was genuinely moved by it.  

We met almost weekly during term time, with somewhere between two and ten children attending.  We are pleased to have our regular people, and to welcome visitors from time to time.  We continue to use the “Seasons of the Spirit” “Encore” resources which provide activities that follow the lectionary.  We present this programme in English, with some Korean phrases we know. 

The children have developed in confidence in conversation, and have great friendships with each other.  We continue to encourage their involvement with Lent Appeals from the wider church; and with local efforts like cardmaking for funds for Uniting World.   So far, four wells have been bought since this programme began.  The children are developing a strong sense of the spirit and of compassion in their responses to our discussion topics.  Their parents should be very proud of their growth into caring, responsible, joyful young Christians.

We acknowledge the continuing work of Sue Yang and parents who provided activities to the preschool-aged children who are using Korean language at home. 






YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
Jong Min Kim &Tim Womersley, Youth Worker

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work temporarily as a youth worker from March to September 2017 until the Youth Worker (Tim Womersley) came.  The youth ministry performed for 6 months was carried out for the following purposes:
  • Understanding briefly the Bible and strengthen
empowerment of Bible reading to explain it to others through the Biblical study as one book, one history, and one story of Jesus Christ. 
  • Extending the range of knowledge by studying
Christian history, principal doctrines, hermeneutics, theological Questions and Humanities. 
  • Improving the ability of Christian Apologetics
through seeking of Christian truth, its Authority and message.
  • Having strong Christian leadership and
relationship between Christians or non-Christian as the YG participating in the Christian Activities such as Youth Camp, leadership program, etc.

To accomplish these goals, the youth ministry was carried out in several categories as follows.
Firstly, we studied the list and structure of the Old Testament and the New Testament to enhance the understanding of the Bible for young people.  We learned how to organize the Bible and how to efficiently read the Bible through the chronological re-arrangement of the Old Testament and the New Testament for practical Bible study.  In the case of the Old Testament, we were able to understand the Bible in its entirety by inserting poetical books and prophetical books for the time in the historical time flow.  In the case of the New Testament, based on the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, we looked at the ministries of Jesus, the preaching of the gospel of the apostles, and the activities for the establishment of the Church.  This Bible understanding is aimed at enhancing young people's access to the Bible in a way that is most easily understood.

Secondly, we also studied the most important Christian truths and historical faith confessions while studying the Bible.  And as Christians, we have looked at the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christianity, the definition and meaning of the church, the development of Christian culture, and the influence of humanities in order to strengthen the explanations of Christian truths.

Thirdly, we have deeply discussed the vision for mission to be developed by young adults who will grow up as Christian leaders and the task of transforming the culture of the world into Christian culture.  We also studied Vanuatu and Korean missions in order to study the mission history of Deepdene Uniting Church devoted to cross-cultural missions.  In particular, we have applied for a special project, Lenten Grants 2018, to explore the missionary history of our church and learn about the future missionary direction through the Vanuatu mission trip, but unfortunately it was not selected.

We also discussed many of the basic attitudes and intellectual needs of young people who will grow into healthy and mature Christians.  Most of all, we learned that the Christian faith begins with the knowledge of God and grows up through the Word of God.

There are many ministries that we have not been able to pursue in order to achieve the purpose of the youth ministry we have planned.  Thankfully, I firmly believe they will be actively pursued in the future because there is now a Youth Worker(Tim) dedicating to youth ministry.  Finally, I would like to ask all members of congregation for help, youth ministry is not an endeavor of Youth Worker but is a task to be accomplished by all the members of the church in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Jong Min Kim


I began in my role as Youth Worker in October 2017 at Deepdene Uniting Church.

Most of the group are young adults and are studying at university with the exception of a few still in high school. 

Being new to the church, my main goal was to get to know all the young people and learn how they fit into the wider church community.  We sat as a group and spoke about what they wanted out of church and what their concerns were in their lives right now.  From this discussion, we have twelve topics which will form the basis of our discussions each week throughout the year.  Throw into this mix some social activities, worship, prayer, fundraising and ice cream, then you have a youth group ready to grow and impact the church!

Some highlights in the three months from October to December include:

  • Youth worship song and dance routine at the International Dinner
  • Creation of a draft youth songbook
  • Began youth missions carwash fundraiser
  • Leading part of the Christmas Carols Service

Tim Womersley


CHOIR AND MUSIC
Stuart Shearman, Organist

Christians have sung in sacred liturgy since the earliest days of the church and the Jewish people have sung praise to God, in the context of worship, for thousands of years.  Hence, when we sing in liturgy we join a tradition that stretches at least as far back as the time of King David.

St Augustine of Hippo is often quoted as having said ‘He who sings, prays twice’ and in light of this statement, given that music in all its forms, including singing, is such an integral part of the Sunday services at Deepdene it can safely be said that this is a deeply prayerful community.

The organ and the piano are used each week to accompany congregational hymnody and choral singing.  Pre and post service music as well as offertory music is regularly performed on the organ.  The choir under the capable direction of Sun Nie Lyew has led the congregational singing, and accompanied on the piano by Ashley Noh and Wendy Yang, effectively performed anthems in both English and Korean at the Sunday morning services throughout the year.  Jim Provan, playing with great proficiency, has continued to provide flute accompaniment to hymns and anthems as well as regularly playing for the offertory during services.  Members of the choir performing as soloists and in various ensemble formations have also presented offertory music.

The annual concert program of three concerts, with local and visiting artists has continued to be well received by both the congregation and the wider community, adding another dimension to the church and its community outreach.

The organ and piano in the church are well maintained and are in good working order.  It is pleasing to record the recent restoration of the organ pedal board which was showing significant signs of wear after some fifty years of use.  The pianos in the halls continue to need tuning and attention and if they are to be kept in good working order this must be addressed in the not too distant future.

All of the musicians who have contributed throughout the year are to be applauded and thanked for their efforts, giving of time and contributions to the liturgical life and secular outreach of the Deepdene Uniting Church.


WALKS ON THE LEVEL
Betty Blaskett

This committed group of walkers continued to meet in Nungerner Street each Thursday at 10am.  David and Shirley Scott co-ordinated the group, as they have for many years, and suggested destinations for the walk each week.  Very few days were missed due to weather or other reasons.  We carpooled to the starting points, walked as far as we could in half an hour or so, and then retraced our steps to enjoy morning tea together, before returning to Balwyn.  New walkers are always welcome.

FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE
Sadie Stevens, Convenor

The Friendship Circle gathered ten times in 2017 at the homes of Dalys Grant and Sadie Stevens to enjoy the friendship, planned activities, devotions and the support of the group.  Friendship Circle has an open membership to all older members of the congregation and their friends.

Sadly Dalys died in July whilst abroad and we gathered in August to remember our co-founder and most generous hostess.  Her death was a great shock, but we have wonderful memories of gatherings at Dalys and George’s home.

Our program was engaging covering issues of national interest, social justice and two practical days when we made gift cards and crafted red poppies for the 2018 centenary commemoration of the end of World War 1.  Rev Jacob Yang shared his impressions of his visit to Myanmar and the great poverty of the border people. 

We thank Joan Cooper and her family for setting up a microphone for our meetings
and her special segment of News of the Church.

We also thank the many hostesses who provided delicious afternoon teas and the thoughtful drivers who picked up members requiring transport.


KOREAN WOMEN’S MISSIONARY GROUP
Sue Yang, Convenor

We, as mothers of the church families, prepared Sunday lunch every week, which welcomed everybody including visitors from outside church.  We cooked very simple soup and rice but sometimes enjoyed special treats cooked by our passionate cooks like Jae Eun Youn.

This Sunday lunch is important for the worshipers coming from far away suburbs and the overseas students and the young people living alone to have fellowship after service.  It is a time when we can relax and enjoy each other’s company.  It also encourages us to participate in activities such as bible study, meetings and working bees.

We celebrated Lunar new year and full moon festival.  We also volunteered cooking a Korean meal for Boroondara Outreach Ministry in August.  We were surprised by how many people attended, as it was much more popular this year, than the last.  It was hard working but fun as well.

Mijung Konakov, one of our members, moved to USA in 2017.  She served our church community with passion and enthusiasm.  We miss her and wish her family the best.  Baeyi Kim gave trial lessons for those who want to learn Korean after Sunday service.  Young Korean children and non Korean speaking adults had learning and fun times.  She is planning to open a regular Korean class next year.

For the International Dinner Night we prepared special meals and activities to fundraise for North Korea Mission.  Baeyi was the main organiser for the event.  We appreciate her hard work.

Some members have been gathering for prayer meetings and some young mothers gathering for fellowship after Sunday lunch.  These gatherings make us more supportive and helpful to each other in this church community.  We looked after each other with hospital and house visits when necessary.

As the convenor, I thank all the members who worked hard in 2017.


KOREAN PLAYGROUP
So-young Yun, Leader

The play group starts 10.30 am and finishes 2:30pm every Tuesday during school dates.  There are currently 15 mums and 16 children and 5 children on the waiting list.

Children start with various activities such as play dough, puzzles, blocks, drawing and crafts followed by story time and dancing.

And then all people have lunch called Bibimbap which is a traditional Korean rice dish.  All the ingredients of the lunch are brought by all the mums.  Every person has their own duty that helps keep the playgroup room clean and tidy.  We have working bees at the end of the year and we did a lot of cleaning and maintenance.

After lunch we have fruit snack time and mums' tea time and kids enjoy outside play.  Sometimes kids celebrate their birthday at the playgroup with a cake.  Kids learn how to share things gradually as they participate this play group. 

I believe that all mums and kids have high satisfaction on this play group. 


DINNER OUT TOGETHER (DOTs)
Mary Wheeler, Convenor

We continued to meet at Concierge Balwyn on the first Wednesday and Box Hill RSL on the third Wednesday of each month.  Usual attenders at Concierge number 22 and 8 at Box Hill RSL.  Both venues offer tasty and well-priced meals, in pleasant surroundings.

New diners are always welcome and transport can be arranged.
ENGLISH CONVERSATION FOR
OVERSEAS STUDENTS (ECOS)
Barbara & Lindsay Herbert, Convenors

In the past year the demographic of ECOS has changed in that we have had very few University students attending but instead have had overseas people from an older age group who are here caring for young students studying in Australia.  Most of these people have come from China.  We have also enjoyed visits from past students whom we may not have seen for months or years.  One such person visited having been among our first ECOS students in 1987!

Fifty people attended our Christmas party, with visitors from Canberra and Sydney, and the parents and grandparents of one of our students from China.

Thanks to the Internet, when students from ECOS return to their countries many of them continue to keep in touch with some of us, even for continued help with English, and hardly a day passes without our being contacted by a past student.  We recently had a phone call from a man in Austria who attended ECOS 23 years ago!

For the past 2½ years we have greatly enjoyed the attendance at ECOS of a small group of Muslim men from Iraq who are in Melbourne to undertake PhD studies.  Three of these men have now been joined by their wives and families and have  needed to find suitable accommodation.  We have been able to help them find houses by giving them favorable references to Estate Agents, and by appealing to the members of the congregation we have totally furnished and equipped their houses.  Although they now live a long way out of Melbourne we continue to keep in close contact, providing support wherever possible.  One of our ECOS helpers has formed a very close relationship with the families and visits frequently.  We were delighted to have the families join us for our Christmas party.

We are only able to continue because of a loyal band of supporters made up of people from our and other churches and some from the community.  We are most grateful to all of them, and particularly thank those who have had to retire at the end of the year.  We have also had two Carey Grammar Grade 6 students helping us for a term to fulfill their school requirements for community service, and they have been a wonderful help.  

New helpers are always most welcome and can attend at any time without needing to contact us, although please note in 2018 the new starting time of ECOS will be 7pm, and supper will be served rather than a meal.


HALMONIE
Barbara Herbert, Convenor

No new “Halmonies” (adoptive grandparents ) have been added to the group this year but those who are already in the scheme continue to do a valuable job playing the role of grandparent (in whatever capacity they are able) to some of the Korean children and young people in our congregation, whose own grandparents are far away.

Some of our congregation members are providing accommodation for some of our young people in their homes, and this not only helps the young people but greatly enriches the lives of the church members.


PRESBYTERY REPRESENTATION
Lindsay Herbert

The presbytery representatives were Rev. Jacob Yang, Joan Cooper and Lindsay Herbert.
No issues specifically relating to the Deepdene congregation were discussed at the routine Presbytery meetings. 
Workshops have been held to assist congregation treasurers and financial managers comply with Synod practice and in regard to the implementation of accepted “Keeping Children Safe” codes and practices.