Welcome – Information about Our Churches

Welcome to the Anglican Parish of Stirling

Our Parish is located in the beautiful Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and encompasses Crafers, Stirling, Aldgate and Bridgewater and surrounding areas.

The Stirling Parish has three different centres offering varying styles of worship and activities

Church of The Ascension
2 Akaba Rd. Aldgate

Aldgate is home to a reflective, spiritual and joyful community.


  • Sundays 8.30am  Sung Communion followed by morning tea
  • Wednesdays 10am – 11am  Holy Communion with lively discussion followed by a coffee-shop gathering
  • Fridays 5.30pm  Evening Prayer – A simple, short, small service in the peace of the evening

Garden for personal reflection

Church of Saint Michael & All Angels
435 Mt Barker Road, Bridgewater

Bridgewater is an informal gathering with a broad age range and variety of worship styles.


  • Sundays 9.30am  Communion followed by a delicious morning tea
    • 2nd and 4th Sundays – Contemporary, youth- oriented service
    • 1st and 5th Sundays – Traditional Service s
    • 3rd Sunday – Taizé Service (peaceful and reflective)



Church of The Epiphany
Epiphany Place, Crafers

Crafers offers traditional services in a heritage church with choir and magnificent pipe organ


  • Sundays 10am – Choral Eucharist
    Prayer for healing in the Peace Chapel, followed by morning tea.

Church open for private prayer when our office is open.
Memorial garden open daily for personal reflection.


Our Website includes information about our services, our ministry team, our ministries and our ethos:

    • Living as a faith community
    • Active in the world as God’s people
    • Reaching out with the Gospel

pewsheetYou will also find information here about our latest events, various groups, selected sermons, and much more.

If you live in or are visiting the Adelaide Hills area, we hope you will join us.

If you would like to arrange a baptism, wedding, memorial, or just have questions, please contact us.




“The ancient writers called meditation the practice of purity of heart. We have to purify and clarify our hearts, our consciousness, so that we can see with utter clarity of vision. What we see is what is there. We see ourselves; we see creation; and we see God. The revelation is his, and what we learn to do in the faithfulness of our daily meditation is to wait on him, to attend to him in growing fidelity, and in growing purity of heart. I urge you to put aside all sorts of speculation: Am I getting anything out of this?; am I enjoying it?; am I becoming wiser?, or whatever. The pilgrimage is the pilgrimage away from self into the mystery of God.”

~John Main “His Time, His Prayer in Word Made Flesh”




shadows fall

Sun bids us rest waking

other brethren to the day

dark . . .

paten holds no Bread

tonight – earth ground

sign of our return . . .


candles straight

names recalled faces

finite minds remembering


flames dancing a round

reaching for that city

which needs no




d.w. 1/11/2017




And soon the reaping time will
come grim grinning tricky Death
with sharpened scythe tread
fields white to harvest
let him . . .

His reward: tares teased burned
dull red coal black cold
ash . . .

Angel-reapers chant
gather home golden sheaves
each full bursting grain a name
writ . . .

And we our invitations
to a future treat hugged close
to breast light birthday candles –
flames dance Pentecostal-like
for each holy head
remembered . . .

David Watson October 2017


Outback – Wilderness Sunday

Outback – Wilderness Sunday

A 17-9-2017 A & C Joel 1 8-10, 17-20 Ps 18 6-19 Rom 8 18-27 Mt 3 13 – 4 2

Adelaide’s quite bewildering for our Shekayla sometimes. We confront her with a wilderness of rules and regulations about time, money, strange manners and customs, and endless bureaucracy. (Her home languages don’t have words for time or number – let alone our crazy form-filling language for Centrelink, Medicare, bank account applications or permission slips for excursions and work-experience.

We’ve been born and raised in this jungle of expectations and rules. So we’re surprised, watching a movie with Shekayla as she constantly asks questions about what’s happening on screen, trying to decode the conventions by which the characters behave. Humour, satire and assumed knowledge we understand automatically are often surprisingly alien to her.

The shoe was on the other foot when we went to a Papunya with a bunch of young people a few years ago. Shekayla and Tobias wanted to show us a rock-hole where Papunya’s kids like to swim. We drove out towards the nearby ranges, but the track gave out, so we stepped out onto a very stony, slippery landscape. We had sturdy shoes on, which was good; the stones on the ground slipped and moved underfoot, and they were ferociously hot from the sun. But Shekayla and Tobias didn’t bother with shoes. They galloped off ahead of us, absolutely at home in this pathless wilderness, laughing and calling out to each other in a bubbly language the Land had given their people over tens of thousands of years. It was a precious vision.

These children were fully themselves and completely at one with their ancestral lands; kids we love and care for, but whom we really hardly know. Describe the pool and the cave with the rock painting.
The Land and its people in harmony; it’s a vision we’re trying to recover during this Season of Creation. Genesis portrayed both our common origin with all life, Earth as Mother of all living, and our tragic loss of that belonging.

But today St Paul takes the image of the Earth our Mother to a new level in his letter to the Romans. Creation is groaning in labour pains, and we are both there in the birthing centre with her, and at the same time, we are part of the renewed Creation to which she waits to give birth.

Paul reminded us today of the curse which God declared on Earth as a consequence of human ambition. We’ve heard that over the past two weeks in Genesis. Paul names the curse as creation’s bondage to decay. We resonate with the truth of his words as we did with the writer of Genesis; we’re seeing this decay happen right now, and at a catastrophic level.

So we groan with Creation as she endures this abuse. Yet Paul hears these groans as something more than cries of agony. He also hears in them the cries of a Creation in labour. So he injects a wonderful hope into the pain. The story is not going to end in tragedy; God won’t let it be like that. New life will emerge; new life, and the old life reborn to goodness and health. And somehow, that’s connected with our willingness to endure the isolation and fear of a present wilderness; a wilderness of unknowing fear, and fearful hope: Paul says we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So it was good for us to enter the risky wilderness out beyond Papunya. And it’d probably be better, next time we’re there, if we go out one at a time; alone. That’s a truth we explored during our Lenten series Into the Desert. Being alone with Creation, we discover connections with our deepest selves – and with our Maker. We might even learn to hear the groanings Paul describes: Creation groaning in labour pains, our own groaning as we wait to be born into the fullness of a redeemed, renewed Creation, and the groaning of the Holy Spirit, helping us in our weakness; for [when] we do not know how to pray as we ought…that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

So much about our settled, city lives cuts us off from those connections. And the support systems we require to keep our ever-more-demanding cities alive are the engine room of the destruction we are wreaking on our world.

When I first left the big cities for Australia’s north someone said ‘that’s great, you can stay for a year and it will look excellent on your CV’.  For successful folk can’t spend too long out of the main game.

Anywhere else is to be travelled through briefly to mine for experiences that can be used to benefit us back in the real world. ‘A packaged tour of the absolute’, to steal Annie Dillard’s term.

However if we duck the tour bus mentality and spend long enough in the desert the seemingly unchanging surroundings force a massive change in us. We let go of the illusion that we are somehow more special than others. Surprisingly, one day, we are even glad to be rid of it. For we are free like we have never been before.

Celia Kemp: Into the desert. Day 40

Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it must transcend all comprehension.
Plunge into the [wilderness] beyond your own comprehension and I will help you to comprehend even as I do.
Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge.
My comprehension transcends yours.
Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross.
You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind person. Wherefore it is not you, no person, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go.

Martin Luther: Into the desert. Day 21

Collect prayer for Wilderness / Outback Sunday

We hear voices crying out in the wilderness, O God.
The earth cries out for healing.
The creatures cry out for the restoration of their habitat.
The trees and the fields cry out for water.
The land cries out for nourishment,
the oceans cry out for balance,
and we cry out for wisdom, O God.
Meet us in the wilderness that we may walk alongside you
on the winding path toward your renewed creation. Amen.




Land Sunday

Reflection for Land Sunday

This reflection is a gathering of quotes and poems that relate to our connection to the land in death and in life, in the story of Jesus and in prayer and thanksgiving.

Let’s begin with what Jesus says in the last verse of our very short gospel passage:

“For just as Jonah was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.”

This verse suggests profound possibilities about what the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus mean for the whole of creation. It suggests that the incarnation of Jesus includes his being intimately connected to the so-called inanimate world as well as what we recognize as living.

What Jesus says about his death and burial seems to me to relate to what Bill Neidjie, has to say about death in the book “Gagadju Man”. Bill is a senior traditional owner of the Kakadu National Park, and he says:

I know I come back to my country.
When I die I become earth.
I love this country and this earth.

This story for all people.
Everybody should be listening.
Same story for everyone,
just different language.
My meaning might be a little bit hard,
so I speak English.
You just listen careful…

We got to hang on
not to lose our story.
Don’t think about money too much.
You can get million dollar,
but not worth it.
Million dollar
he just go ‘poof’.
Couple of weeks
you got nothing.

This ground never move.
I’ll be buried here.
I’ll be with my brother, my mother.
If I lose this,
where I’ll be buried?
I’m hanging on to this ground.
I’ll become earth again.
I belong to this earth.
And earth should stay with us.

I found a poem by Judith Wright called Myth which I think imagines vividly the dilemma of god becoming flesh, dying, being enclosed in earth and seeking to rise again.

A god has chosen to be shaped in flesh.
He has put on the garment of the world.
A blind and sucking fish, a huddled worm,
he crouches here until his time shall come,
all the dimensions of his glory furled
into the blood and clay of the night’s womb.
Eternity is locked in time and form.

Within those mole-dark corridors of earth
how can his love be born and how unfold?
Eternal knowledge in an atom’s span
is bound by its own strength with its own chain.
The nerve is dull, the eyes are stopped with mould,
the flesh is slave of accident and pain.
Sunk in his brittle prison-cell of mud,
the god who once chose to become a man
is now a man who must become a god.

Rowan Williams muses theologically on a similar theme in a chapter of his book On Christian Theology.

He writes of “Jesus’ self-identification with the bread and wine as ‘representative’ bits of the created order.”

Later he writes: “Jesus ‘passes over’ into the symbolic forms by his own word and gesture, a transition into the vulnerable and inactive forms of the inanimate world.

By resigning himself into the signs of food and drink, putting himself into the hands of other agents, he signifies his forthcoming helplessness and death.

He announces his death by ‘signing’ himself as a thing, to be handled and consumed.”

Williams says: “Death is the beginning of the new order, and this divine dispossession points back to questions about the creative act itself, as more like renunciation than dominance.”

Williams quotes Simone Weil’s imagery: ‘He emptied himself of his divinity by becoming man, then of his humanity by becoming a corpse (bread and wine), matter.’

It’s a profound picture of how incarnation, death and resurrection, communion, creation and new creation are linked, and how the God-like action is a self-emptying to share with the other, not the exercise of power over the other.

The sin of Adam and Eve in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the desire to know everything and therefore to have power over creation.

It is a sin that continues to threaten the wholeness and beauty of creation, and to make us exiles from the intimacy with creation that God intended.

It has been, sadly a besetting sin of Western cultures.

Annie Dillard, in Teaching a Stone to Talk, writes: “It is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate a grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum.

We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree. Did the wind used to cry and the hills shout forth praise? Now speech has perished from among the lifeless things of earth, and living things say very little to very few…”

Yet thankfully, indigenous peoples, the Celtic tradition and some of the world’s poets still seem to hear what the living things say, and to give us a sense of the hills shouting forth praise.

Esther de Waal, in The Celtic Way of Prayer, (p. 190) finds in Celtic writing the awareness of the Creator in the creation, for instance in this verse:

“There is no plant in the ground
But is full of His virtue.
There is no form in the strand
But it is full of His blessing.”

She also quotes Leon Shenandoah, an Iroquois spiritual elder, who writes:

“Our religion is all about thanking the Creator.
That’s what we do when we pray.
We don’t ask Him for things.
We thank Him.
We thank Him for the world and every animal and plant in it.

We thank Him for everything that exists.
We don’t take it for granted that a tree’s
just there.
We thank the Creator for that tree.
If we don’t thank Him maybe the Creator will take
that tree away.

That’s what the ceremonies are all about –
that’s why
they are important – even for White Man
We pray for the harmony of the whole world.
The Creator wants to be thanked…
If we white people awaken, and learn from the more aware peoples of the earth, perhaps we are capable of the profound thankfulness for creation which the poet e.e. cummings expresses in this ecstatic sonnet:
i thank You God for most this amazing
day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Forest Sunday

Reflection for Forest Sunday

Trees and Jesus: As I reflect on the intersection of our forest theme, the story of Jesus, and the environmental concerns of the Seasons of Creation, it strikes me that there is a tragic interconnection between the death of Jesus, the cutting down of the tree from which the cross was made, and the destruction of forests that has such a devastating impact on the environmental health of earth.

All three actions are violations of creation, humanity and the Creator.

Jesus was one of many who were executed by the Roman Empire through the barbaric torture of crucifixion.

Thousands of people were executed by crucifixion, including 6,000 followers of Spartacus.

So a forest of trees died with those who were so abused by the forces of empire, even given that the main uprights of the crosses were sometimes permanent fixtures in a place of execution.

Let’s draw the comparison with deforestation today.

According to a National Geographic article on the internet, forests still cover 30% of the earth’s surface, but a swathe half the size of England is lost every year.

A Scientific American article reports that 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest are lost daily, with a further 80,000 acres badly degraded.

These rich and beautiful ecosystems maintain climate and are home to 50% of the world species, as well as providing ingredients for a quarter of modern pharmaceuticals.

Yet only 1% of rainforest plants have been tested for curative properties, so we’ll never know what we’ve lost.

Jesus the healer died because the servants of empire didn’t know what they were doing; the tree he was nailed to died too along with thousands of other trees and people in the Roman Empire; today potential healing built into the rich gift of forests is being killed off, and we don’t even know what we are losing.

Jesus as carpenter: Another connection between Jesus and trees, and Jesus and creation is suggested by his sharing in the carpentry of his human father Joseph; this is a human parallel to Christ’s sharing in the work of the Creator God.

Jesus as carpenter is an endorsement of human creativity made in the image of God’s creativity.

However, using dead wood perhaps suggests a human diminishment of the life generating creativity of the Creator.

Somehow even in positive of human activities, there is a damaging aspect.

Trees need to be cut to provide wood for carpentry, and a carpenter may well be asked to create buildings and carts that support war.

Trees in Scripture: Trees that figure in the gospels include figs, olives, sycamore and palms.

Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus: it is claimed that that tree still exists, and a photo of it is on the internet.

Jesus saw Nathanael under a fig tree, because that was a traditional place for rabbinic teaching. Hence Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree that doesn’t bear is actually a metaphorical critique of traditional religious teaching.

Because of their long lives and ability to regenerate, trees were often seen as metaphors of resurrection, and new creation.

In Ezekiel’s vision of the city of God, in 47:12, there grow “all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.

Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” In Revelation 22:2, another vision of the Holy City includes the tree of life: “On either side of the river is the tree of life with its 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

These visions connect with the descriptions of the Garden of Eden, which contains two spiritually significant trees, the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Some insights from the bible study of the second creation story: The study looks at Genesis 2: 15 as a commission to care for the earth. The phrase translated “to till it and keep it”, could be translated as “to serve and to preserve”. This is humanity’s responsibility for creation.

The next insight is with regard to the place of the feminine in the story.

Whereas the first story of creation in Genesis 1 has God creating male and female in God’s image, hence in equality, Genesis 2 has the problematical story of woman being created out of man’s rib, created as a companion for man, and created after man has named the creatures, which to some suggests a subservient, non-rational role for women.

However, the study emphasizes that the creation of woman is the climax of the story, and that she represents the next generation, “flesh and bone from the flesh and bone of the first human”. This is still problematical, given that the next generation is born out of the body of women, not men!

However, the study also emphasizes that the name for “earth”, adamah, is the feminine form of the word adam, human being, so we are all born from Mother Earth, and when God is seeking kin for Adam, he creates creatures, so we are all kin in Earth’s family.



The Spirit in Creation

  • September 3 1st Sunday in Creation – Forest Sunday
  • September 10 2nd Sunday in Creation – Land Sunday
  • September 17 3rd Sunday in Creation – Wilderness/Outback Sunday
  • September 24 4th Sunday in Creation – River Sunday
  • October 1 St Francis of Assisi Day – Blessings of the Animals

On Hearing the Word of the Lord

On Hearing the Word of the Lord

God seemed more vocal in my younger days –
more tangible, embodied and defined.

A sense of presence came in clearer ways –
it seemed that words were given, underlined.

The vision in my mind I knew as gift,
the words so wryly apt I felt God formed,
or gave the book that readied me to shift
my sights, my soul, to claim a world transformed.

Now though I still await the given word,
I trace it lightly on the page, not clear
what meaning quirks in what I thought I heard.

It swirls like steam drawn up to disappear;
yet insubstantial clouds can catch the light,
and draw the eyes that find the sun too bright.

Barbara Messner September 2017




“Once into this journey most of us face periodic crises of confidence and stamina. Few have started without ever having given up at some point. There is a grace in this, as in everything, though, because it confronts us with our own weakness. Starting again always takes us deeper. One reason for this difficulty in sustaining the practice smoothly is the feeling that it is wasted effort or that the results do not justify the investment. This problem is considerably lessened if self-knowledge itself is seen as a major fruit of the practice.”

A letter from Laurence Freeman 2009/02


Adelaide Hills, South Australia