A message from Jeremy Rensford

A Christmas message from Jeremy Rensford, chair, Shepparton Ministers’ Association.

This is my final article for the year, and as such I wanted to pen a letter of thanks and support to you, the local reader and local member of what is my favourite community on the planet – Greater Shepparton. It’s been such a difficult year for all of us, so I thought it would be good to close out the year with words of faith and hope. I know we don’t always think of ourselves positively, nor do other people who know, or think they know, our region. But this year, more than ever, has shown what a great community we live in.

The picture or simile I see for Greater Shepparton is like a big old room with gaudy wallpaper; a bit tacky and embarrassing, worthy of a snide comment or two, but when you peel back that wallpaper and look at what’s underneath, you’ll find a masterpiece by a great artist. Forgotten until exposed. And this is the story here, don’t let first impressions or others’ impressions take away from what this community is already and what we are becoming, which I know will be even better.

A historical person that our local churches hold near and dear named Paul said the following about the community he was leading, and it’s applicable for future communities that valued his writings:

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10). God doesn’t make mistakes, He made you and me expertly and has purpose for us that we can fulfil right here in our town.”

In my view, there are many intangibles that make this place great – people (God’s masterpieces) from all walks of life, rich and diverse cultural backgrounds from those that were first here right through to our most recent arrivals and everyone in between.

Great at sport, known for our art scene, talented people representing our city further afield with pride. A passionate, opinionated community with opportunities left, right and centre. A core group of capable and invested leaders that see hope for our city and are not scared to take people there with them. People in business and social services of the highest calibre working to give others a chance to succeed in life. Despite a very challenging year, I believe we are tracking most well.

Here’s a prediction to close out the year of what the future looks like for our region – it’s going to get even better, more people will want to move here from outside of our area, we’ll be known further afield as a place of unity and success, new businesses will move here and do well, and new local ones will spring up. More opportunity will be here with incremental growth. I know this sounds gushy and potentially unrealistic, but we have what it takes to make these things a reality.

Christians in our community are united in prayer for these things. Our local church ministers meet together regularly to pray for you. Our congregations pray together too. United churches in a rural city is not the norm, we are not normal! Good outcomes will come from this.

Maybe the best present we could wish for this year has already been received – living in Shepparton!
Merry Christmas, and looking forward to sharing some more of God’s love with you next year and God bless.