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Learnings

Learnings

edited by Dave Andrews and Helen Beazley

‘This book celebrates the learnings of people who journeyed a week, a month, a decade, or more with that small network in West End. It’s a celebration of many ordinary everyday people living in and working with communities where not everyone has enough to eat, or a safe place to live, or access to a good education or adequate health care. It’s a celebration of an authentic struggle to live grace and hope and love into the world. It’s a celebration of a successful people’s movement and a life changing community immersion experience. I hope it is also an encouragement to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be.’

Lin Hatfield Dodds, Director of Uniting Care Australia.

‘Raw, authentic, generous…Unprocessed, untreated, pure, organic even…There’s no pretence, no effort to put on a mask or try to show a face other than that which is the normal and everyday … A “big” experience, not half-hearted or sparse … The heart of community.’

John Dacey, Community Minister, Mt Druitt.

‘Through the Waiters Union I have been able to experience more of the many worlds that exist in my street and suburb…The Waiters network has quiet links to many aspects of my suburb that I hadn’t previously realised were connected ... This (becomes) quite obvious if you fall down the Waiters Union rabbit hole.’

Emily James, Community Worker, Neighbour and Friend.

‘The Waiters model and method, infused by the practices of love and the hope of justice, is an important contribution to the life of many people in West End, mine included. It is also a model that enables many people in other locations to re-imagine community development in all its breadth and depth and multiplicity.’

Peter Westoby, Lecturerof Community Development, University of Qld.

‘Clearly the current surge of interest in the Waiters Union is because (its) ministry was before its time, but now that time has come. The Waiters Union offers one of the very few effective, replicable, genuine, missional models of (the future) church in Australia.’

Geoff Westlake, Co-Founder and Coordinator of Cheers.

“No body is sure when the Waiters Union began”, says the book, “but it seems to have emerged sometime after 1985”. And thus begins a wild stream of unvarnished life that runs through this collection of stories and testimonies concerning one particular faith-based, Jesus-centred, incarnational community work among the poor and marginalised of Brisbane’s West End.

If you are looking for a manual of step by step how-to’s, rules or instructions on what does or does not constitute a missional community – you’re going to be disappointed. “The 12 Signs of the New Monasticism”, this book is not. On the contrary, instead of defining themselves by creeds, pledges, vows or any membership system that marks some people as insiders, and others as outsiders, the Waiters Union deliberately sets out to be a fluid and inclusive network, that is non hierarchal with no formal leadership.

As John Dacy says on the cover, it’s all “raw, authentic, generous...unprocessed, untreated, pure, organic”. The Waiters Union is made up of whoever considers themselves to be a Waiter, and the Waiters Union itself is defined by what it does. A tree, as Jesus said, is known by its fruit. And this book, by gathering testimonies from those whose lives have been touched and transformed by their involvement, demonstrates that this approach of ‘providing a well rather than building a fence’ can indeed work powerful magic.

Yet for all its apparent lack of institutional structure, the Waiters Union has clear and regular rhythms of prayer, worship, study, fellowship, dialogue and service that give it shape and help hold it all together. They also offer an impressive array internship and training options for those who would like to join them and understand more about both how the Waiters Union ticks, and about the dynamics of the various communities it ministers in and to. Indeed, there are seven training options, ranging from one hour, to one day, to two weeks, ranging all the way up to a full year.

There is no question either of the impact the Waiters have had in their community, as they have reached out with love to refugees, migrants, Indigenous Australians, the disabled and marginalised, the elderly, the imprisoned – and the folks who live next door.

One of the most impressive features of this collection was it’s willingness to be self-critical, and to allow voices of dissent to be heard and recorded. In Learnings, the authors acknowledge failure, and that there have been those who have left the community hurt and disillusioned. Some of the contributors even question the Waiters Union’s (lack of) structure and its apparent lack of leadership – wondering aloud if it’s more a case of it being ‘undeclared’ rather than non-existent. I loved this raw honesty and questioning, the sort of thing that would have been edited out of most self-promotional books of this genre. One of the definitions of a ‘prophetic community’ (including Old Testament Judaism) is its ability to be reflective and self-critical – even savagely so.

In more ways than one then, I would have no hesitation in referring to the Waiters Union as a prophetic, missional community, and a model from which we can learn a lot.

Kristin Jack, Asia Coordinator for Servants



Price: $25.00 (including 0 % tax)

 

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