Summary

Ecumenical service program for the 1999 Warragul Women On Farms Gathering, conducted by Rev. Jan St James, held on Sunday 3rd May 2009. The 1999 Warragul Gathering was the 20th anniversary Women on Farms Gathering and was held at Warragul, the location of the first and 10th gatherings. The theme was 'Celebrate Women Farming' and 'Water Our Future', with a windmill as the logo. The 20th gathering covered a range of topics and subjects including: sustainable farming families, permaculture, chain saw know-how and maintenance, water management trends in Victoria, self care, tai chi, yoga and folk art. It represented both the interest in contemporary agricultural issues and the need to provide opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation for rural women. This 20th anniversary service was very well attended, and included women who had been sponsored to attend from regions that were severely affected by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Physical Description

A5 size 4 page booklet, printed in black over a multicoloured rural scene with a stylised butterfly.

Significance

Bringing women together in song, prayer and storytelling, ecumenical services are an important feature of the annual Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings. The idea to incorporate these services into the Gathering weekend first emerged in 1991 at the Sea Lake Gathering. During the early 1990s the Sea Lake and wider Mallee region was experiencing a longstanding drought, and many rural women and their families had been severely impacted by this drought. Organisers of the 1991 Sea Lake Gathering decided that a religious service might help to lift communal spirits and to bring women together with a common goal. A service was therefore organised on the Sunday morning and held at the Sea Lake Secondary College Library, whereby participants crammed into the small library and prayed for their friends and families, and all of those that were affected by the drought. Since then, ecumenical services have continued to be a regular feature at Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings. While the Gatherings themselves are not religious and the ecumenical services are optional, they are always well attended and a highlight for the women that attend, regardless of their religious persuasion. Not only do these services bring women together in prayer; they also provide an occasion for women to speak about the issues affecting their lives and families, as well as to reflect on the broader issues affected rural Victoria more generally.

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