It was probably the most sustained heat I’d ever experienced—five days out of six reached 42 degrees. But in this small outback town of 20,000 people this is normal.
Mount Isa is a mining town. There is a strange beauty in the Martian terrain: the rocky hills, red dirt in all directions. The giant mine, smoke stacks visible from almost every part of town, is an ever present reminder of the reason the town exists.
Mount Isa Seventh-day Adventist Church has some history in its almost 50 years of ministry, as it has battled the heat, the tyranny of distance and a transient fly-in fly-out population. Most notably, Mount Isa was the church where the Chamberlain family was pastoring at the time they took their ill-fated holiday at Uluru.
The pastor’s house is next door to the church, on the corner of Abel Smith Parade in a suburb optimistically called Sunset. When the sun sets in Mount Isa, things get cooler. Marginally. We welcomed the Sabbath with a vespers program.
The following morning we gathered in the church hall for breakfast before Sabbath School. A wonderful spread, with an array of fresh fruit, cereal, pancakes, Filipino delicacies—all laid out for everyone to enjoy together.
The cement block church is a decent size with a community hall and lush red carpet. Adult Sabbath School was combined in the church, while the sound of children singing filtered through from the hall next door.
The thing that struck me about Mount Isa church is the children. There were lots of kids and they were attentive during the Sabbath morning service. They responded to questions and were engaged with the message.
There are people from around the world attending this remote church, from Fiji, Africa, the Philippines, Australia and Samoa. Lunch is delicious and represents the various cultures well.
Pastor Musu Amuimuia has been there for four years. He tells me that, this year, they are focusing on learning how to actively reach their community.
We spend almost all of the Sabbath hours at church. But that’s not the only day the church is active. On Sunday morning the men’s ministry has organised a hike up a nearby hill and breakfast together. It will be the third meal at the church within 24 hours. They say the family that eats together stays together. If that’s true then Mount Isa is doing it right.
I enjoyed my Sabbath with the beautiful people of Mount Isa. If you’re on an outback adventure or doing a Grey Nomad tour of the Top End, I’d encourage you to spend Sabbath at the church in Mount Isa. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
The church is planning 50th anniversary celebrations in November. They would love former members and pastors to attend.