SCARBOROUGH’S first female priest in charge, the Reverend Gail Falconer, believes that ministers heading out into the community is an important part of today’s church.
Before taking up her posting at St Columba’s Anglican Church last month, Ms Falconer had a 30-year teaching career at schools in Perth and Melbourne.
“In ministry, there is a teaching component, but you’re also working alongside people and supporting them in their lives,” she said.
Since returning to Perth to respond to “a sense of calling”, she served as chaplain at Princess Margaret and King Edward hospitals for five years.
She described the hospital-based role as “a special job, but also a very sad one” where she had the privilege of helping families going through crisis.
“You’re journeying with people through their difficult times and helping them find spiritual meaning, and offering them support,” Ms Falconer said. “Even (for) people who aren’t religious, it seems to help them express their fears and hopes.”
During her theology and ministry studies, she had “a magic run” as an assistant priest for three years at St Basil’s Anglican Church in Winthrop before her new role at St Columba’s.
The Scarborough church on Northstead Street regularly caters for about 60 people each Sunday across a main 9am service and a smaller service in the evening.
“They’re good numbers – not as good as in it’s heyday but I hope that people will find us and that sense of community that they want to be a part of,” she said.
“Not everything is about coming to church, it’s also about church coming out into the community – we have lay pastoral ministers that have connections with several nursing homes.”
Ms Falconer said while being a female priest was not such a big deal today, she liked the idea of bringing something different to the position.
“I think you preach differently,” she said. “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with male priests, but I think you just bring a different dimension to the role.”