23 September 2023

Thanking God for 140 years of Melbourne ministry 

Elizabeth Petering (current St Alfred’s leader), Dot Steel (first St Alfred’s GFS leader), Dedra Wadeson (GFS Melbourne Chairman) cutting the birthday cakes. Picture: supplied 

By Helen Petering 

22 November 2022

On Saturday 22 October, GFS Melbourne Inc. celebrated 140 years of ministry in the Diocese of Melbourne. Along with St Alfred’s Church GFS celebrating 60 years of continuous GFS ministry in the Parish of Blackburn North. 

Over 150 people enjoyed good food, lively carnival games, memorabilia displays and wonderful reunions. Past and present GFS members from across Melbourne and the State of Victoria, their families, KidsPlus+ connected churches and friends reacquainted with old friends and made new ones. 

At the Thanksgiving Service, Reverend Karen Winsemius spoke of her time growing up in GFS at St Alfred’s, where she began her leadership journey and represented GFS Australia as junior delegate at the GFS World Council in Seoul, South Korea. She encouraged all who attended the service, to not only look back and thank God for the ministry of GFS over the past 60 and 140 years, but also to look forward to where God is calling GFS to serve into the future. 

Read more: Parish celebrates 60 years of ‘unafraid’ ministry in Blackburn North

Mary Elizabeth Townsend, the founder of the Girls Friendly Society in England in 1875, met an urgent need of young girls and women at the time, who were finding life in large cities difficult, after moving from country villages to find work. Mary and her team were dedicated to caring, supporting and encouraging these young lives to flourish. 

In the same way, the GFS leadership, since 1882, in the Diocese of Melbourne, has supported and encouraged girls and women by inviting them into loving Christian communities of faith. Here they are nurtured and empowered in their lives, as the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed. Throughout its 140 years of ministry, GFS has served in over 300 parishes across the diocese. We aim to continue to reach out and share the good news of Jesus with perseverance, enthusiasm, and faith. 

Past and present members and leaders of St Alfred’s GFS Blackburn North. Picture: supplied 

GFS Melbourne Inc. now also supports parishes in the diocese by providing KidsPlus+ Children’s Ministry Support Packages to nourish children’s ministry, by helping local churches to employ a children’s minister. In the past seven years, GFS Melbourne Inc. has supported 20 parishes and provided over $530,000 in funding. We look forward to expanding this ministry to encourage and support children, young people, their families, and all associated with this ministry serving the Lord. 

If you would like to be a part of this next chapter of GFS ministry in the Diocese of Melbourne, please contact Helen Petering, KidsPlus+/GFS Liaison Officer at kidsplusgfs@gmail.com or 0427 673 256. 

We give constant thanks to God for the ministry of GFS, not only in Melbourne but across Australia and in 33 countries around the world, and we pray He will sustain us for many more years to come. 

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