It was a 45 degree day in the small town of Peake along the Mallee Highway, in late January 2021. After nearly 20 years, St John’s Lutheran Church in Buccleuch was holding its first confirmation service. Originally planned to be inside the small church, the service had already been moved outdoors due to COVID number restrictions. That was until the weather forecast climbed rapidly the week prior to the service, with the hottest day in January predicted to fall on the very day of the event. The small congregation rallied and organised for the service to be moved to the Peake Town Hall, with the comfort of reverse cycle air-conditioning and plenty of room for relieved invited guests.
Not only was it the first confirmation class in a significant period of time for the congregation, it was also their first online confirmation class, due in part to the appearance of COVID. While some students joined classes from their living rooms, others beamed in from other locations, including from a truck cab high on a hill so they could receive signal.
It wasn’t just locals who benefited from the online class arrangement. Pastor Tony Traeger received a phone call one evening from a family in his previous Parish, Katanning-Narrogin in Western Australia, who were looking for a confirmation class for their son, Steven. Steven was soon able to join the class remotely, logging in online along with the rest of the class. The students got to know each other well over the following months, with Steven contributing some healthy competition to the online quizzes! When classes resumed to the in-person format, a laptop was set up at the table and immediately named ‘Steven’, in honour of their classmate, who continued to attend online from afar.
When the time came for the confirmation service, Steven and his family made the brave decision to travel interstate to attend in person. It was an exciting time for all the students who were able to meet Steven in person, and one of the confirmation families had the pleasure of hosting Steven and his family.
Jasmine, Oscar, Charlotte, Archie, Steven, Bryce and Kallan were confirmed in the Christian faith by Pastor Tony during the service, joined by their church elders, teachers, families, friends and wider church community.
A banner displayed at the service featured artworks that the students had completed during their classes, on the theme of ‘what church means to me’. Each piece had been transferred to canvas and compiled to create the banner, which was especially symbolic given the service could not take place inside the church itself. The artworks were gifted to the students to take home, a fitting memento of their journey and a time they will all remember as they continue their walk with Christ.