In Loving Memory of Rev. Joan Gilchrist


Eulogy, offered by Glenice Cook

Joan was a loved member of this congregation during the years of her retirement, first at South West Brunswick and then at Sydney Road. From the moment Joan joined our community she was anxious to fully participate in the life of the congregation. She delighted in continuing to expand her already rich understanding of the Scriptures, and loved the wide variety of music that was always new and relevant. We all came to love her smile and hospitality. We appreciated her quiet wisdom and her generosity.

Speaking with some of those who knew her, they remembered her wonderful talent for creating beautiful crocheted blankets. Usually knitted from wool from the sales or unpicked jumpers bought at the op-shop. Some remembered her love of ‘a bargain’ and the pavlovas or other delicious foods that had to be consumed that day because they would be out of date by tomorrow. Joan’s house was full of many items that had been purchased cheaply to enable her to give to those in need. Others remembered her loving hospitality hosting the weekly bible study and her understanding of the texts offered in her gracious way. All remembered her beautiful smile of welcome.

On a personal note I remember journeying with Joan for several difficult years as dementia took over her mind and body. We journeyed together through the giving up of her licence, many aged care assessments and the realisation that life was not going to be easy. Joan was constantly cheerful and we had many laughs as together we tried to work out what it was she wanted to say. She particularly loved visiting when I was minding my youngest grandchildren and used to come to lunch each Tuesday where they came to love her and look forward to her visits.

One of my disappointments for Joan was that she was not able to enjoy more time in her unit at Kingsville. Being close to where she grew up she felt it was like ‘going home’. She had so anticipated moving there, in fact, she was the first person to sign up when they announced the building of the retirement village. Unfortunately it took much longer than anticipated to be completed and by that time independent living was becoming difficult. But regardless of all her difficulties she remained the same loving Joan accepting of all and of her new way of life.

Joan had an amazing life, she gained her Leaving Certificate majoring in Maths, Physics and chemistry, she then studied nursing, midwifery and Obstetrics, social work and was later ordained as a Uniting Church minister. A woman ahead of her time. The way in which she accepted and coped with her diminishing health with such dignity and cheerfulness was an inspiration to us all.

Going through some of Joan’s papers recently we came across the late Rev. Dr. Nigel Watson’s address at her ordination and I found some statements highlighted. Let me share some with you:

The text was taken from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Chapter 2 verse 4. Rev. Watson said, “It’s a passage which directs us to certain qualities in the hearers and, more especially, in the bearers of the gospel which demonstrate its power, qualities which help to make it credible, qualities which go to show that the message of which the minister is the bearer, really is the word of God.”

He emphasized “uprightness of character and purity of motive and self forgiving love. He also advised not a heavy-handed authoritarianism but gentleness, caring, a love that constrains you to give of your very self.”

Joan’s life certainly exemplified all of those qualities.

Joan lived a full life and we are all so much the richer for having shared some of it with her.

It was a privilege to have travelled with Joan during her last years.