By Chris Shearer
29 November 2021
For twelve years Bronwyn Stephens has been tirelessly working as a Rotary member and parishioner at St Stephen’s Gardenvale to help her community in whatever way she can.
Not even the pandemic has been able to really slow her down.
In 2020 she spearheaded the provision of gratitude bags for healthcare workers during Melbourne’s second wave of COVID.
In the past few months she’s coordinated obtaining much needed medical supplies to be shipped to Moyo Hospital in Uganda.
Today, she’s still working diligently to develop a satellite Rotary Club at St Stephen’s that will bring in members of her local community, who might not otherwise worship at the church nor join the club.
It’s a commitment to helping others that’s the big draw, with a little support from the Holy Spirit.
“It seems to be a natural fit because the mantra of Rotary itself is ‘service above self’, and of course that just fits so well with ‘love your neighbour as yourself’,” Bronwyn says.
“So to collaborate with Rotary just makes sense.
“When people see what is possible through this collaboration, at the local level, they’ve seen that they can bring their ideas to the table and have this partnership take them forward.”
The group has already held several meetings with people who neither worship at St Stephen’s nor belong to Rotary, to talk about their ideas for the community.
Bronwyn says the hope is that the group will be able to sign on the requisite eight members needed to establish a satellite Rotary Club at St Stephen’s, under the auspices of the Brighton North club, then eventually work their way up to 15 members so they can incorporate on their own.
But perhaps none of this work would have been possible without the support Bronwyn received from St Stephen’s Vicar Paul Carr and the wider congregation.
“When the community of the church is the body of Christ and people are encouraged to pray together, identify each other’s gifts… and really pray for those gifts to flourish and bloom and really go for it, things happen. That happened for me,” she says.
“Not just from Paul but from the people he was encouraging and were coming into St Stephen’s. They were coming around me and saying ‘We’re seeing this love for other people and this well of care for people less fortunate. This is clearly something that is being used in your life’.
“It gave me more of sense of, ‘Yes, this is what God has been doing’.
“I sensed the Holy Spirit working in me, and it gave me new energy, and it gave other people around the community energy too, because they were using their gifts.”
Bronwyn says that for others who are thinking about how to best use their gifts in their local community, it’s a good idea to pray on it, but then they should go for it.
“There’s no downside,” she says. “There’s so much joy in taking a chance if it’s a prayer-filled chance. People will wrap you in love and encouragement and prayer.
“It doesn’t really matter if it’s a large thing or a small thing, and sometimes a large thing can end up being a small thing. Sometimes I’ve had a grand plan, and people have raised their eyebrows … and it ends up being a thousandth of what I’d dreamt.
“But that’s ok. Because a small thing is better than nothing.
“Even if this satellite club doesn’t actually work out, people have discussed ideas that they want to actually champion in their community. It’s given them an appetite to do something, to have some hope, to have some faith, and ultimately, love.”