A century of Bush Church Aid to be celebrated

The Far West's connection with the Bush Church Aid Society of Australia (BCA) will be acknowledged next weekend as part of the organisation's celebration of a century assisting remote communities across Australia.

The remote and rural ministry arm of the Anglican Church in Australia, Bush Church Aid pioneered a number of services in Ceduna and surrounding towns.

The Ceduna Anglican Church has been involved in organising events across the weekend to remember the importance of Bush Church Aid in the region.

It established the Flying Medical Service, hospitals in Ceduna, Cook, Penong, Tarcoola and Streaky Bay, as well as a radio school, pharmacy and a church.

The Ceduna School House Museum will be open from 4pm to 5.45pm on Saturday for people to have a look at the Bush Church Aid items on display, from nursing and pharmacy equipment to a desk from the radio school and material of pilot Allan Chadwick.

Dinner will be hosted in the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel's function room from 6pm, with BCA Indigenous ministry officer Neville Naden the guest speaker.

That will be followed on Sunday with a thanksgiving service led by the Bishop of Willochra, the Right Reverend John Stead, at the Anglican Church from 10am.

Also speaking is BCA's South Australian and Northern Territory regional officer Steve Davis, while lunch will be provided after the service.

Reverend Susan Doughty, the deacon in charge of the Ceduna Anglican Parish, said Bush Church Aid's connection to the region stretched back almost 100 years.

"Bush Church Aid sent priests to districts and they went as far west as the border, including Penong and isolated communities on the railway, and also went to Wirrulla, Minnipa, Streaky Bay and the Gawler Ranges," she said.

"They provided support to isolated families.

"In Ceduna the first pharmacy was set up by Bush Church Aid, so was the first hospital, and the first nurses and matron who worked in the district were Bush Church Aid women, in the early 1930s."

Ms Doughty said while BCA did not retain much of a presence in the Far West region it was still present in towns such as Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs, while its legacy could be felt in Ceduna.

She said the weekend was a chance to thank the BCA pioneers.

"Bush Church Aid ministry still continues and provides ministry and medical support to people in very isolated communities," Ms Doughty said.

"As far as Ceduna is concerned, a lot of the infrastructure that exists today, including the hospital, pharmacy and ambulance, was set up out of faithfulness and the ministry of people being sent to communities they didn't know.

"I'm new in town, but as I've talked to people the number of those impacted by Bush Church Aid is quite phenomenal, and people born between the 1930s and 1960s remember it."

She said while Bush Church Aid workers brought their faith, they also recognised the needs of people in the community regardless of beliefs.

Ms Doughty said the community was welcome to celebrate the occasion by coming to the dinner and service.

People will need to buy their own dinner at the hotel.

You can RSVP your attendance at the dinner to Susan Doughty on 0408 837 819 or susandoughty4@bigpond.com.