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News from Long Gully

  
Winter crops (beds from foreground to background): broccoli and cauliflower; peas, beans & beetroot; onions and carrots; green manure; lots of garlic!; and (right up the top) lettuce and other leafy stuff.

The winter crops are in the ground and the firewood stacked in the shed. This year, the ‘Autumn Break’ has given (for Bendigo) a generous amount of rain and all the drainage we have developed on our slope to direct water to the food-growing areas is working a little too well. It will need a little modification – a never-finished process of observation and response.

We were very heartened by the response to Manna Gum’s annual appeal which, for perhaps the first time in our history, has produced a surplus in our budget. Now we need to consider to what use such a surplus should be put. This is all very strange, given the economic hardship and uncertainty that characterises these strange times. Our ongoing thankfulness and amazement at this support remains undiminished.

On the whole, Manna Gum’s work has not yet been greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, other than to push a number of speaking and teaching events on to Zoom. So far this year, this has included speaking to TEAR groups in NSW and Qld, to the NEXT course at Whitley College in Melbourne and a session for the virtual Surrender Conference. Behind the scenes, the slow work continues of reading and writing for my thesis on Christian witness in the face of capitalism. Unfortunately, although the coronavirus has not really limited this work, my ongoing back troubles have done.

The really exciting (and slightly scary) news is that someone has responded to the call-out in the previous Manna Matters for an ‘angel investor’ to buy an investment property in Long Gully that can be used for the local mission work of the Seeds Community. It is too early to say much about how it will be used (the purchase is still in process), but the core idea is that the house will be used to accommodate our mission interns and potentially, as needs, to be used as accommodation for vulnerable families. Our angel investor has also brought to the project a real interest in retrofitting the property for climate-readiness, which was an additional blessing!

Even if this were to fall through at the last hurdle, what has been encouraging is that people (we had a few serious inquiries) have taken the idea of what is being proposed, seriously. As well as material support for the work of the Seeds Community, the deeper idea at work here is our need to find working models of mobilising the latent capital that is held amongst God’s people so that it can be of benefit to God’s work in the world. So, as well as a way of meeting a concrete need, this is a bit of an experiment in faith ...

Jonathan Cornford

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