A groundbreaking woman minister, an ex-Moderator, a Legacy leader, a trade unionist, a ricegrower and a Christian educator are among the wide range of Uniting Church members acknowledged in the Australia Day 2021 Honours list.
Rev Norah Norris AM was the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained in South Australia. After Church union, Norah served on the Assembly Commission on Liturgy from 1977 to 1991 and with Frontier Services in South Australia from 2006-2019. She is also a prominent ecumenist, as a Member of the South Australian Council of Churches for 40 years from 1970 to 2010 including as President from 1976 to 1977. Norah is a member of Scots Church in Adelaide.
Rev Bryan Gilmour OAM was the 14th Moderator of the UCA Queensland Synod from 1991 to 1992. Originally ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, Bryan went on to placements at Logan Uniting Church in south Brisbane and was Chairperson of South Moreton Presbytery from 1989 to 1993 – a position he held at the same time as being Moderator. Bryan was also the Founding Chair, of the Gold Coast Multifaith Advisory Action Group.
Eric Easterbrook OAM got involved in Legacy in 1981 as a sideline to serving in the RAAF and working for the Department of Defence. He is currently the Vice-Chairman of Legacy Australia after racking up almost 40 years of service in the organisation which cares for war widows and their families. Eric is also Chairman of the Property Committee at Emu Plains Uniting Church and was a Volunteer Bus Driver at the Uniting Church Edinglassie Retirement Village in Emu Plains from 1985 until recently. His award also attracted local coverage in his community.
Catherine McKechnie OAM was an active member of South Australian Branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union for almost 30 years, serving as a State Council member and State President. Catherine is also Secretary and Treasurer of the Golden Grove Uniting Church and Convenor of the Women’s Fellowship.
Gordon Druitt OAM began growing rice near Coleambally in the NSW Riverina in the 1960s. He went on to become the Vice-President of the Ricegrowers Association of Australia Coleambally Branch, a Director of SunRice Australia, and the Deputy Chairman of the Rice Marketing Board. Gordon has also dedicated much of his life to volunteer organisations in his area through Lions and Apex clubs, and he’s a volunteer at Griffith Uniting Church.
Rev Dr John Pender OAM received his award for his lifelong contribution to the UCA and to education. John began his career as a Christian educator with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, performing the same role with the Uniting Church Board of Education in NSW from 1978 to 1990. He also lectured at United Theological College, where he was Dean of Students and Warden. John also held positions on school councils at Newington College and Pymble Ladies College and was the Minister at Pymble Parish from 1998 to 2008. He now lives in Berry on the NSW South Coast, where the local newspaper gave a nice write up of his award.
A full list of UCA recipients is available here.
UPDATE: Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger AC is another Uniting Church member to be honoured in the 2021 Australia Day Honours. Professor Praeger is a member of Nedlands Uniting Church in Perth. Previously an AM, she's been awarded the highest honour in the General Division for eminent service to mathematics, and to tertiary education, as a leading academic and researcher, to international organisations, and as a champion of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.