12th Assembly 2009

A sense of humour helps

The 12th Assembly would not happen without its dedicated team of volunteers.

The team of 30 is led by Helen Phillips of Oatley Uniting Church in Sydney. Most volunteers come from Sydney, with one from the Central Coast and one from Newcastle.

Helen described herself as someone who has always been involved with her local church. She says her motivation for volunteering is to feel part of the church as a whole and that volunteering is in her nature.

She said she found out accidentally about her role as volunteer assistant organiser when reading the presbytery minutes. “No-one actually asked me, but I’m here doing it!”

When asked if the other volunteers had the same motives, Helen answered that some wanted to be associated with the Assembly and find out what is happening. “But most of them are just here to help out,” she said.

The team works in two timeslots, 9am to 3pm and 3pm to 9pm. Helen herself works from 8am to 10pm each day.

She insists the work is not too difficult. “There are varying problems, but the routine is now generally set,” she said. “The main task is making sure people are happy and healthy.”

A sense of humour is obviously one of the things that keep Helen and her team going during the long days. She described an incident when someone “came in and said they lost their name tag at the pub last night. We just printed a new one and threatened that we would announce in Assembly where it had been lost.”

Some team members were surprised by the low number of volunteers this year. It turned out that the number of people ended up being enough.

Helen said “travelling to Kensington is not on everyone’s route.” It was hard to estimate the number of volunteers needed beforehand because the Assembly has not been held in Sydney since 1994.

Despite the generally positive attitude of the volunteers, when asked if she would do it all again, Helen laughed.  By the time the Assembly next comes to Sydney, “my feet might be a bit tired.”

She hopes the church will be able to raise a new generation of volunteers with the same selfless spirit of the dedicated team the Assembly has been blessed with this year.