Dear Inner Circle,

The words we use construct the worlds in which we live. At Wayside we resist any form of language which welfare, government or even the church would use, that seeks to shrink a human being into a unit that can be measured, managed, transformed or converted. All who walk through our doors are greeted as if they were a visitor in our homes. We see them in the light of their full potential. This creates space in our hearts to recognise the gifts that everyone possesses. We take great care not to let busyness rock us to sleep, always staying alert for the spark of life in the eyes of every face we greet.

Nowhere does Wayside’s world collide more with the welfare state than when we farewell someone at a funeral. When we share, we speak of no case that was managed, or client that was served, but of a brother or sister we have lost. Often the words at such an event are the words of the street – tough, impolite and generally not heard in a church or in front of your mother. We love giving people who don’t normally have their voices heard the opportunity to be heard. It’s not uncommon for us to hold a funeral and someone gets up that starts with “I didn’t know the bloke” but they still give a beautiful eulogy. You also get to hear so many weird and wonderful stories that you never knew about the person. This week we bid goodbye to a great man, a little man with a little dog who wore a big hat and an even bigger heart. You can read a touching tribute to the man’s life and coverage of the funeral, published in Sydney Morning Herald here.

As I write this, we just received more sad news that Reverend Ray Richmond passed away this week. Ray was Pastor and CEO of Wayside Chapel from 1991 – 2004, prior to Reverend Graham Long. A kind and loving pioneer, he was instrumental in demanding change in the area of drug treatment in the ’90s, when Kings Cross was caught in the midst of a heroin boom. He was stirred to action by the countless lives lost from drug overdoses and established a safe injecting room known as ‘The Tolerance Room’ where drug users were allowed to safely inject. This was an act of civil disobedience that even saw Ray arrested, yet didn’t deter him from persevering with his vision. Reverend Ray Richmond’s actions, along with widespread support from our community, led to a change in state legislation and the subsequent approval and opening of the first medically supervised injecting centre (MSIC), which still stands today on Darlinghurst Rd. All of us at Wayside owe a debt of gratitude to Ray. He will be greatly missed.

Thanks Inner Circle for being a part of something so much bigger than we could have ever dared dream,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel 

PS –  Thanks to all who joined us for the first session of Gutter Philosophy with Rev Graham Long on Tuesday night. If you missed out, you can book your tickets for the next session on Tuesday, 24 September here or for Tuesday 1 October here

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