Introducing Robert Hoskin
Robert is the adventurer, whether it be to relate to his Aboriginal friends, in spending creative time at Dromana with his family, or tutoring at the Australian Catholic University. At seventy years of age, Robert brings a wide experience of life, in the business world as an actuary, in ministry as a Parish minister of the Uniting Church (including the Richmond congregation of the Yarra Parish Mission) and in his voluntary work with the Aboriginal people of Mowanjum in the Kimberley. He finds joy in the journey; being with family and friends, or by himself as he walks in those many beautiful walks on the Peninsular. He enjoys art and writing; having recently completed a book on a Ngarinyin Elder and his family as they lived and worked in the Kimberley. If you are interested in following up this new book: Return to Majaddin, see the website The Kimberley Voice.
What is your involvement with St Kilda Uniting Church?
Although a long-time member of the Uniting Church, I joined St Kilda earlier this year, attending as often as I can. As my Parish ministries included several inner-city placements, I am interested in congregation with a history spanning over 140 years. I love singing and playing the piano, so have had fun accompanying other musicians. St Kilda church offers me an opportunity to bring many gifts and perspectives into play: whether it be helping to ensure the long-term viability of the congregation, supporting the minister, music, and worship leadership. As a former worship leader, I enjoy leading the occasional service, continuing the excellent contemporary approach of the Rev David Pargeter. But, basically, I enjoy being part of a small, yet vital congregation. I have lived through a range of community responses to church, from the early enthusiasm, to more reserved tolerance tinged with prejudice. Perhaps, it is easier now we are on the fringe of society, and conservative religion. We are free to be the people carrying a deep sense of social justice and compassion.
What does having faith mean for you?
If asked, I am a Christian, but I would describe myself more as a follower of Jesus. I have become more disenchanted with words like Christ, God, Lord etc. as they have been used in a colonialist and imperialistic sense, which I have no wish to emulate. I have plenty of favourite bible stories, but one that comes to mind is Jesus meeting the woman at the well. I used to sing Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, Jesus met the woman! It is brilliant story that has Jesus crossing the social boundaries of the day, but of greater importance, the woman being willing to dialogue with Jesus, one of the many women in the Gospels who called his Jewishness and conservatism into account.
And what of faith? I am a journeyman, certainly uncomfortable with conservative understandings, and equally nervous of calling myself progressive. I like to keep the mystery in Jesus’ ministry, seeing him more in keeping with a shaman, or Indigenous healer, come spirit man than the Western ideas of Priest and King. I enjoy stories of his miracles as much as his more dealings with people in ordinary and down to earth ways.
And of prayer? I love writing from the heart, and this includes my crafting of prayers for worship. But, I don’t think words are the real prayers; if that were the case, I would rarely pray. I pray as I walk, spend deep time with people or nature, or simply be.