The Salvation Army provides a network of rural chaplains and the Outback Flying Services that support people in regional, rural and remote communities and properties throughout NSW, ACT and Queensland.
Chaplains work alongside other rural support agencies, participate in community events and conduct regular visits to farmers and rural communities in need of practical assistance or simply a listening ear and a hand of friendship.
Majors Denis and Kathleen White have recently arrived in Broken Hill as the new Salvation Army rural chaplains and they are looking forward to continue the work of their predecessors Majors David and Robin Pullen.
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Denis and Kathleen are each originally from the Northern Territory, where they grew up in Aboriginal communities on Croker Island and Goulburn Island in Arnhem Land.
Their parents had been missionaries with the Methodist Church (now the Uniting Church) on their respective islands and Denis and Kathleen met at boarding school in Darwin.
Denis said it was love at first sight: but each was to experience many different live directions before the call of marriage and community service beckoned.
He began his career as an apprentice Fitter and Machinist with the NT Railways and later gained a degree in Intercultural Studies specialising in remote Aboriginal communities and culture.
"I am a handy mechanic and can weld, and if you have any odd-jobs about the place I am happy to roll up my sleeves to help," Denis quipped.
In 1974 many circumstances led to the transformation of Denis' life with a spiritual encounter and awareness of The Salvation Army.
He had joined the Salvos in Darwin just three days before Cyclone Tracy devastated the city on Christmas Day 1974.
"It was an eye opener for me to see the Salvo Army as an organisation swing into action, pooling their resources and channelling the overwhelming response of good will from the southern states," Denis recalls.
"That awareness of God and people's needs was the catalyst to my becoming an ordained Salvo officer as a way of empowering me to live out my adopted motto of 'Heart to God, Hand to Man'."
Kathleen trained as a teacher and she has recently been awarded a degree in Counselling.
The couple married 40 years ago and following a two-year training course in Melbourne they have worked together in Christian ministry as Officers in The Salvation Army for 38 years.
Throughout their rewarding career they have travelled extensively beginning in Tasmania, Orbost in Victoria, suburban Melbourne, Papua New Guinea and Adelaide.
"We have been Pastors in Salvation Army churches, and oversighted national youth programs in Papua New Guinea before being appointed Chaplains at an Aged Care facility in Adelaide," Denis remembered.
"For the past nine years, we have driving a 'mobile Thrift Shop' - a 16-ton Hino truck loaded with furniture, clothes and household goods - regularly to Pitjantjatjara (APY Lands) Communities in central Australia."
Outside their spiritual interests, Denis is the proud owner of an MG TD, while Kathleen is absorbed in researching and writing the biography of her parents.
Newly placed at Broken Hill, the couple are looking forward to engaging with people and communities west of the Darling River.
"We are eager to connect with families and communities in this unique area of far western NSW and encourage and support them in whatever way we can," Denis said.
- They can be contacted on 0439 998 651 (prefer text) or by email email@example.com.