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In Memoriam

Farewell Alan Matheson 

Alan John Matheson

24 August, 1937 – 12 September, 2021

Alan was a friend to many, a man of deep faith, and he loved his family and its growth. He embraced, people, life and faith, and an enduring commitment to ecumenism.

 

We see his legacy amongst us now, like the apostles at Pentecost.

Some thoughts about Alan Matheson from Ecumenical colleagues 

Alan started his ministry journey from a conservative setting at Dandenong Church of Christ and trained at the College of the Bible, Glen Iris. Through his ministry journey he met and married Barbara, a relative of the then College Principal. 

His first ministry was in inner-city Melbourne in the mid 1960s. There he became aware of the realities being faced by migrants in Australia and this led him into working with the Ecumenical Migration Centre and later to work with the World Council of Churches. There his focus was on Human Rights, Migrant Labour and Refugees. Returning to Australia he joined the ACTU as the ACTU Ethnic Liaison Officer. Throughout this journey Alan regarded himself in ministry and was endorsed by Churches of Christ in his work with the ACTU, it being recognised as a form of chaplaincy. 

His involvement extended to the Refugee Council of Australia and the then Commission for World Christin Action where he represented Churches of Christ and chaired the Refugee and Migrant Services Committee. He had decades of involvement in the life of the Victorian Council of Churches. He has had many companions in these settings and build strong and loyal friendships. 

Alan was a writer, thinker, conversationalist, and stirrer. If there was a matter of concern that was not being addressed, he had the courage to raise it – publicly in church conferences, directly with organisations and individuals. His energy was always issue focussed and this mean that sometimes people, including me were at risk of taking it personally. However, that was never his intent. Alan was a friend to many, a many of deep faith and he loved his family and its growth. He embraced, people, life and faith. I miss his warmth, passion, and spirit.  Rev John Gilmore

 

Two reflections, one personal and one communal ...

In many ways Alan was my mentor, friend and challenger. Over my 38 years in ministry within Churches of Christ and this past decade with the Council of Churches, Alan was the one who enabled me to challenge complacency and traditions in ways that empowered others and expressed the loving Grace of a God Alan loved deeply. I recall many a coffee shared in coffee shops around inner Melbourne, as Alan would ask how are you going? What's the latest Ecumenical news and lament the seemingly declining interest amongst Church leaders to truly seek unity. He had a genuine love and commitment to all things Ecumenical.

As a friend, Alan would sit and listen as I'd reflect on the frustrations or disappointments I was experiencing, his insights into the machinations of denominations both State, Federal and Global often brought insights that stood me for the tasks I was facing. His experiences within the Trade Union movement also gave alternative views or insights into the tasks of Victorian Council of Churches as a voice in the marketplace of policies or ideas. One of the sad reflections I have is that the pandemic brought an abrupt end to our coffees and discussions, for even though his health was declining he was still great for a chat up and a yarn.

My communal reflections go to State Conferences (Synods) within Churches of Christ, where Alan would be the voice reminding Churches of Christ of their roots in ecumenism or that the Gospel imperative was and is always to the poor, marginalised and voiceless. Often his voice was a counter narrative to the common voices heard at Conferences.

I'm sure Alan has been welcomed home and heard the words, "well done good and faithful servant enter into your rest".         Rev Ian Smith

 

God rest dear Alan’s brave and faithful soul.

I had great respect and affection for dear Alan .

I have known him for decades and recall his prophetic edge and fearless advocacy over matters of injustice.

In recent years, less contact but always when we met he had insight to share.

When I was at St Stephen’s Richmond, he and others of his friends would come to worship on occasion...Midnight Mass together, I recall.

With prayers now and gratitude for Alan’s faithful, influential life.

Bishop Philip Huggins

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