St. John's Uniting Church Wahroonga

Christmas at the Dish

Lots of activities at St. John’s stop over the summer, but the need for the fellowship and food provided by the Dish doesn’t take a break. Alison sent me this report on the great work done by so many members of the wider community who chose to generously give their time at such a busy time of year…

For our friends at The Dish preparations for Christmas began some time ago. We are so fortunate that so many people of the community are aware of the meals that volunteers serve from The Dish each week to those in Hornsby who come for a meal and companionship.

Children of Waitara Primary School from one Year 6 class had made boxes in which to put cakes of soap; as well, each child in the class made a bracelet of woven silk, for each of those who came at Christmas.

A Wahroonga family contacted The Dish, via the internet, to say that they wanted to do something for our friends at Christmas. There was a mountain of things to do; one way that was envisaged that this family could help us was for them to pack the Christmas hampers. North Sydney Inner Wheel had supplied us with presents – necessities, individually wrapped and labelled. The Wesley Cooks had made Rocky Road, Christmas cakes and other treats. Others had given more gifts. A firm of Consultants at Pymble sent us some new shirts for presents.

One couple, again making contact through the internet – the web-site – gave us a donation as their grandchildren were not coming this year and hence they were not buying a Christmas tree. The money for the tree was given to us – we purchased gifts to supplement those already received so that all folk were able to have a fair share of the bounty!

What excitement when the family had put the bounty into colourful Christmas Gift bags. Cards written by hand, by the children in the family, were attached lovingly to each bag. It was a delight to see. Joy was certainly a by-product of this giving.

St. Leo’s served traditional Christmas Dinner on Tuesday, 25th, and presented to those who came personal hygiene packs which they had prepared for each one who came.

All these gifts will be given to anyone who has not yet received one, as the come over the next weeks. Over twenty folk have already been the recipients of these gifts. It has been a bounteous Christmas for all!

“I am not a racist” – May 13th, 2012

This sermon originally included the names of a lot of real people, which was fine when spoken but is inappropriate on the Web.  With the exception of my brother, his wife and the Japanese potter Takeshita Shikamaru, all the names in this written version have been changed to invented names of the same ethnicity as the originals.  I don’t know any people who have these names, and if I have invented a name of someone you know it’s purely coincidental.

Acts 10:44-48 | John 15:9-17

I had thought this sermon through before I realised that I’d be giving it on Mothers Day, and I worried about how to tie the day in.  I think I’ve done it … see if you can spot my clever and subtle link!

I feel I can confidently say that everyone here, if asked, would say, “I am not a racist.”

I’m not a racist.  In just the last week I’ve had a wine with Majid Khan (well, he’s a Moslem so he had juice), shared a joke about Italian food with Genevra Bartolocci, helped Aisyah Musa to construct an customer letter, flirted outrageously with Priya Sivalingam, had a yarn about the football with Raymond Ng, received excellent advice on TVs from Kheng Trang,  got a very nice email from my friend Melinda Yang, discussed hunting in the Ukraine with Irina Zenchenko and wished my mate Guan Hoe Soon in Singapore a happy birthday.   I’ve sympathised over the tornado damage done to the Mashiko potter Takeshita Shikamaru’s home and studio and celebrated with my brother Euan & my sister-in-law Mikako on the completion of his kiln in Minakama.  I’ve even been nice to my boss – and she’s a Kiwi!

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The Dish Christmas

Alison wrote the following piece about Christmas at the Dish, and I thought it should be shared more widely!

Eighteen friends joined us in the Park last evening for our Christmas gathering.
Janet had organised a fabulous Christmas meal of Soup, Turkey, Cranberry sauce, Ham & mustard, roast vegetables, peas, individual Puddings and custard or Mango ice cream – a great thrill for many! – tea, coffee and cordial.

A real treat was the presence of some of the choir from Mt Colah Uniting Church. These folk came with Wendy Robinson, who has been coming to The Dish with the purpose of research for University work. After mains, carol singing took place. It was a happy time for all. Keyboard and percussion were there as well! There were even requests: “Amazing Grace”. After “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Santa, in different forms came: Bags prepared by Abbotsleigh, Kathy Tobin’s Year 9 class; Bags of goodies put together by Turramurra H.S. prefect group, contents of which were supplied by Prouille’s staff/parents; Christmas cakes and shortbread made by Wesley Cooks; Presents given by North Sydney Inner Wheel were distributed.

All the time the presents were being distributed the keyboard gently played.
It was a moving experience, especially when one of our friends said “My family are in W.A. – this is like my family – this is my Christmas”!

So many people contributed to this heart warming occasion.

Thank you all so much.

The Dish on Tuesdays

It is now over six years that The Dish of St. John’s has been serving, from the back of a Van, a meal to folk at Hornsby who come for the food and the company each week. This month marks a wonderful new step forward in outreach to the needy of Hornsby as the Van now goes out each Tuesday evening, thanks to a collaboration amongst the local schools of Wahroonga.

This initiative, going out on another evening, was led by Phil Ledlin of Prouille School Wahroonga. Each Tuesday a different primary school in Wahroonga sends volunteers from their school – staff and/ or parents – to prepare and serve the three course meal. Numbers are increasing and certainly the extra evening has been most welcomed by those who share the meal. The participating schools are Prouille, St. Leo’s, Wahroonga Preparatory School, St. Lucy’s, Abbotsleigh and St. Edmund’s. Knox Preparatory has already been providing food for serving throughout the school terms this year.

This service from the Primary School Community of Wahroonga is a fabulous way in which the children of each school see how their teachers and parents are helping others in the wider community, by cooking and serving meals to those who might otherwise do without. There is a friendship and spirit of community fostered throughout the group – both with the volunteer helpers and those who come each week.

We have the support of the St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army as well as the Police as we proceed with this service. It is most fulfilling for all those involved.


Each year the Abbotsleigh and Knox school communities run a four day (three night) ‘Abbox’ holiday camp for children with physical and intellectual disabilities. This year the camp runds from 10th to 13th December. St. John’s contribute to this fantastic initiative by helping out with catering. If you can help, please talk to Cecile Ferguson or Laurena Potter. You can find out more about Abbox on the Abbotsleigh website.

Recent developments at The Dish

Over the past term those who we serve meals to, as well as the preparers and servers, have been delighted with the great variety and inspirational meals prepared by the parents of Year 3 Knox Preparatory students. This is an innovation inspired by the teachers of the students, as part of their Social Justice Program, which extends throughout the school. We, at The Dish, have been most thankful for the variety provided and generosity of the families – it has been heart warming to see the keen and eager faces of the boys as they bring their food to the Van.

The Dish Kitchen

Last year our ‘more than a soup van’, The Dish, was fortunate to receive a grant from the Community Grants Scheme. These funds have been used to equip an area under the stage to house basic kitchen and storage facilities. This means that there is now a central area from which we can dispense food for the meals and the goods that we store before we give them out to the folk in need of them. Thanks to the NSW State Government for their support, and to Judy Hopwood and Barry O’Farrell who encouraged us to make the application and have taken a personal interest in the work of The Dish.

Oetapó Casserole Dinner

On Saturday September 11th there will be casserole dinner at St. John’s to raise funds for the Oetapó school in East Timor. Bring friends to make up a table of 8, or buy a ticket to join a Church Family Table. Tickets are $30 for a selection of casseroles, desert and tea/coffee. Contact Annie Loxton or Patricia Daly or email for more information or to buy a ticket.