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Men's group takes off in Mt Isa hangar

Men's group takes off in Mt Isa hangar

Men's group takes off in Mt Isa hangar

6 November 2019

The Men’s Connect group in Mt Isa, held in the Outback Flying Service hangar, is attracting corps and community men to a fun, informative, thought-provoking and enjoyable event.

By Simone Worthing

A monthly ‘workshop connections’ event, held in an airport hangar each month, is attracting men from both the local community and corps in the remote town of Mt Isa, north-west Queensland.

Lieutenants Natalie and Simon Steele, the Mt Isa Corps Officers, are working to encourage more men to connect with the corps, and with each other, through the ministry.

The Salvation Army Outback Flying Service, also run by the Steeles, keeps its helicopter in the hangar where the men meet.

The famous barbecue and chat time launches each monthly event.

“We have men from different churches, our church, and no church coming along and they really like what we’re doing,” said Simon, who leads the group with a couple of other men from the corps.

“The feedback we get from the group is that the talks we organise are enjoyable and useful; it’s a great environment and the barbecue steaks are really good quality!

“The hangar is an interesting place for men, and also a neutral place, so they can feel comfortable.”

Close to 30 people attended the first night in July, with the average number now around 25. Due to the transient nature of Mt Isa, with many contract and fly-in-fly-out workers, around 80 different men have attended the workshops.

The evenings start with a barbecue and time to chat.

“It’s encouraging for the men to know they can talk with other men about things they often thought they were the only ones thinking about,” said Simon. “They’ve shared how good it is to hear men talking about similar issues to the ones that are on their minds.”

Dinner and chat is followed by an interview with one of the men who speaks on something they are passionate about. Topics have included photography, storm safety and looking after your boat.

One of the group members shares about a different topic each month.

“We have also interviewed a pastor from another church who spoke about Bible history and his trip to Israel, and another Christian guy who works in the mines,” explained Simon. “The men find these really interesting.”

‘Food for thought’ informal chats are also part of each evening. They go for a few minutes and include a famous quote, Bible verse and a few sentences about the content.

“These are really thoughts for people to take away with them and think about,” said Simon. “It’s definitely part of our outreach but we try not to make them too ‘over the top’ for people.

“Then, the jug is on and we have coffee, tea and chocolates until around 8.30pm. We try to honour people’s time and get them home at a reasonable hour. The hangar closes at 9pm.”

Simon and four other leaders ran a similar group for four years a few years ago, but this new group is more structured and includes more teaching.

The men’s workshop connections is funded by a Salvation Army innovation grant.

Women from the local community and corps have expressed interest in a similar group for ladies. Simon and Natalie are planning to begin workshops for the women early in 2020.

“The women especially like that we interview a range of different people,” said Simon. “Everyone has a story to tell and something valuable to offer that people can relate to.”

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