Chopping firewood on frosty mornings at the foot of the Grampians range in Victoria is a regular winter pastime for hardy members of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Stawell, as a fundraiser for their congregation.
Members of this woodchopping team, predominantly aged over 70, chop and sell firewood from May to September to help keep their 26-member strong congregation running, says chairman and one of the team organisers, John Simpkin.
On weekends they receive welcome help from younger members, including John’s grandsons, who help with the loading and unloading of the big trailers. The fundraising scheme also literally brings warmth to the town, offering a great service to community members, particularly older residents reliant on wood heaters.
Since 2014 woodcutting has become a major fundraiser for the fellowship, which also supports chaplaincy programs at three local schools.
John’s wife of 53 years, Lorraine, 75, takes the orders which determine whether the band of woodchoppers sets out twice a week or once a fortnight, depending on demand. ‘This is another way of letting people know that the Lutheran church is here in Stawell and happy to help people in the community’, John says.
It has also become a major financial support for the ageing congregation.
‘In 2002 the congregation had 74 active communing members with almost 30 members in paid employment. We now have about 26 active communing members and, of these, only six are in paid employment’, John says.
The hard work of the woodcutters has almost evened out that shortfall.
But their ultimate optimism is reflected in John’s favourite Bible verses from Romans 8, reminding them that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
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