Queen's Birthday Honours 2022
June 14, 2022
"The Uniting Church ... acknowledges with thanksgiving that the one Spirit has endowed the members of Christ's Church with a diversity of gifts, and that there is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ." Uniting Church Basis of Union, paragraph 13
A lay woman serving the Church since before Union, a leader in community services, and a long list of long-serving, dedicated lay people are among Uniting Church members acknowledged in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours list.
Two Uniting Church members have been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for their service to the Uniting Church in Australia, Deirdre McNeil, a member of Redcliffe Uniting Church in Queensland, and Andrew McBryde, the deputy Chair of UnitingCare Queensland.
Deirdre McNeill has played an integral part in the life of the UCA, contributing her governance, finance and secretarial skills to UCA communities since the 1960s, including Redcliffe, Toowoomba, Gympie and Alice Springs.
“I was astonished, amazed and very surprised, I never thought this would happen to me,” said Deirdre on receiving news of the honour.
Deirdre’s contribution at Redcliffe Uniting Church includes as Secretary of the Church Council (2018-2019, 2008-2015), Secretary for the Church Finance Team (2011-2020) and Leader of the Church Catering Team since 2007, as well as key fundraising roles. She was the Parish Secretary and Treasurer of North Toowoomba Uniting Church and a Member of the Property Committee (1991-1996), Parish Secretary at West Toowoomba Uniting Church (1996-2000) and served eight years as Parish Office Secretary at Gympie Uniting Church (1982-1990).
Before this, Deidre was the Secretary at John Flynn Memorial Church in Alice Springs from 1966-1969 and at the same time was the Secretary at St Phillip's College in Alice Springs shortly after the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches embarked on a missionary venture to develop the college led by the vision of Rev Fred McKay, of the Australian Inland Mission (now Frontier Services).
During this time, Deirdre supported many official church meetings, taking minutes, in shorthand, for the council that eventually became the Northern Synod. She was a volunteer at Griffiths House Hostel (Uniting Church) in Alice Springs from 1969-1971 which is where she met her husband.
Deirdre continues to give her time generously, leading the catering team at Redcliffe providing countless meals for grieving families at funerals and an annual Christmas dinner for families in need. During COVID, she figured out how to do take-away packs for families after funerals.
Speaking humbly about her contribution, Deirdre said, “I’ve always been a gap-filler. When there is a gap, I fill it. I’ve made the most marvellous friendships. When getting a medal like this, I feel I should receive it on behalf of all the people who have helped me over the years. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The community at Redcliffe Uniting Church have welcomed the news of Deirdre’s honour. “We’re so proud of Deirdre. She has worked tirelessly in the background for so many years to support the church and the community. Well deserved,” said Minister Rev Paul Clark.
Andrew McBryde OAM has generously served the Uniting Church since the time of Union, offering his gifts locally and in support of the community services work of the Church. Andrew was on the Board of UnitingCare Queensland for 10 years from 2012-2022, and deputy Chair of the Board from 2020-2022. He was also involved with Wesley Mission Queensland from 1995 to 2007, including a five-year period as Chair from 2002 to 2007.
"I was truly surprised to receive the honour, and have been overwhelmed by the messages of congratulations," said Andrew.
"Our church has such a strong presence in community service, and I have very much felt called to this since my teenage years. I have been fortunate that my business life has allowed me to be engaged at the level I have for so long."
As part of a significant and varied contribution to the Synod of Queensland Andrew has served as a member of the Standing Committee since 2007, Board Member of Australian Regional and Remote Community Services Ltd from 2014- 2021, Chair of the Governance, Nomination, and Remuneration Committee from 2014-2016 and Chair of the Finance Investment and Property Board from 2007-2014. He is also a former Chair of the Queensland Synod Property Trust.
Andrew has also made significant contributions to the life of Uniting Church congregations. He has been a member of Albert Street Uniting Church in Brisbane CBD since 1976, where he was a Youth Group Leader and Sunday School Superintendent from 1976-1986, a member of the Parish Council from 1990-1995 and Secretary of the Congregation from 1995-1998. He is a former Church Council member at Centenary Uniting Church in Brisbane’s west.
"I have learnt so much in the many roles I have been called to fill; met so many dedicated volunteers and staff within our community services and now to be recognised like this is humbling to say the least."
A number of other Uniting Church members have been recognised for their service to the wider community including to the Uniting Church.
Mr Geoffrey Walter Boehm OAM, for service to the community through a range of roles. Geoffrey has been a member of St Luke's Uniting Church in Highton since 2000, is a former congregational Secretary and convenes the St Luke's Men's Shed.
Mrs Helen Claire Campbell OAM, for service to music through education and performance. Helen has been the organist at Crookwell Uniting Church for over 30 years.
Ms Barbara Jocelyn Carter OAM, for service to the community through a range of roles. Barbara has been a church council member and volunteer organist at The Avenue Uniting Church in Blackburn since 2012, and was a member of the Synod Sexual Misconduct Complaint Committee from 2009- 2015.
Mr Graham Dean Carter OAM, for service to the community of Mount Gambier. Graham is a past Elder at Lucindale Uniting Church.
Mr Ian James Cover OAM, for service to the community through a range of roles. Ian has been the Chair of the Barwon Heads Uniting Church Council since 2005.
Dr Cecile Roslyn Ferguson OAM, for service to people with disability, and to the community. Cecile has been Pastoral Care Convenor at St John's Uniting Church in Wahroonga since 2005.
Ms Lucie Anne Gabb OAM, for service to the communities of Pennant Hills and Beecroft. Lucie has been involved with Leisure Learning Programs run out of Beecroft Pennant Hills Uniting Church since 1991 and has been its Coordinator since 2006.
Mr Richard John Hearn AM, for significant service to aged care and to the community. Richard has been involved with the Uniting Care Australia National Aged Care Network as a member from 2003-2020 and Chairperson from 2017-2018.
Mr Phillip Jones OAM, for service to community mental health. Phillip was the Metropolitan Program Manager, Community Mental Health Services with UnitingSA from 1998-2021.
Miss Gwenda Muriel Lucas AM, for significant service to calisthenics, and to the community. Gwenda has been an Elder in the Heidelberg congregation with the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches since 2005 and a Volunteer in the congregation’s Sycamore Tree Coffee Shop from 2000 to 2015. She was an Elder at St Columba's Uniting Church in Balwyn from 1995-2004.
Ms Donna Claire Markham OAM, for service to health administration. Donna is currently a Non-Executive Director, Uniting Age Well.
Ms Teresa Nowak OAM, for service to the multicultural community of South Australia. Teresa worked in Ethnic Link Services with UnitingSA as a worker (1997-2012) and now a Regional Coordinator since 2012.
Mr Neville George Pengilly OAM, for service to the community of Cowra. Neville has made a huge contribution to Cowra Uniting Church since Union, as a Parish Elder, Parish Secretary, Lay Presider and Church Council Chairperson. He is also a current member of Cowra Clergy Group, and has been a member of the Pastoral Team at Weeroona Aged Care Residence since 2009. He has been a Macquarie Darling Presbytery representative on the Uniting Church's Ministry Mission Committee since 2007.
Mrs Gael Maxine Perry OAM, for service to multicultural aged care and to the community. Gael is a current Committee Member of the Wesley Centre for Life Enrichment, Wesley Uniting Church Geelong.
Dr Margaret Isabel Rowe OAM, for service to conservation and the environment. Margaret has been a Committee Member in the Presbytery of Gippsland since 2007, and Chairperson of the Leongatha Uniting Church Council since 2005.
Mrs Marjorie Smith OAM, for service to the community of Dandenong. Marjorie was an Elder in Dandenong North Uniting Church for 30 years, a Treasurer for 16 years and an organist for over 20 years.
Ms Sharyn Mullens Taylor OAM, for service to amateur theatre. Sharyn is a Uniting Church member and the founding director of Fresh Theatre for Social Change, an organization that uses creative arts to support young people in difficult life circumstances.
Ms Jennifer Jane Toisuta OAM, for service to asylum seekers and refugees. Jennifer is a Co-Founder of Balmain for Refugees, Balmain Uniting Church, and has been a volunteer since 2002. She is a current member of the Management Committee.
Is this list missing someone? Let us know of other UCA recipients by emailing us here.
Pictured below (L-R): Andrew McBryde, Deirdre McNeil, Deirdre McNeil and her mother Mrs McHarg in an old print edition of Frontier News sharing news of their inland appointments in Alice Springs.