Rev. Dr Seforosa Carroll and Rev James Bhagwan rolled out a Pacific mat to lead the first of a series of morning Bible studies at the 15 Assembly, held at Box Hill Town Hall. The woven mat represented the Pacific tradition of having a space of hospitality to tell stories. “All stories are valued and therefore all voices should be heard,” Dr Carroll said. Following a joyful and energetic opening worship session led by the Rev. Charissa Suli, the Rev. Mata Hiliau and Amanda Hay from the Synod of NSW and ACT, Assembly members were led through a Bible study the reading from 1 Samuel 1: 1-27. The Scripture tells the story of Hannah who after many years of being unable to conceive prayed to the Lord and was granted a son, Samuel, who Hannah offered as a young boy to the service of God. Dr Carroll said although some seek Hannah as a passive character in the story it showed her a “strong and independent woman”. “Despite the cultural norms of her day, Hannah took things into her own hands,” Dr Carroll said in praying for and offering up a son, who became a major transitional religious figure in a troubled time in Israel’s history. “She serves to remind us of hope that exists despite the impossible, there is abundant grace that makes all things possible,” she said. Mr Bhagwan said the story showed that to participate in the abundance of life gifts from God, such as Samuel, should be offered back to God. Each table of Assembly members were asked to reflect together on how in a time of scarcity to be people of abundant hope and grace.