A relay for Rod

Rod Hutton carrying the Queen's Baton during the official Commonwealth Games relay.

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Eight Mile Plains Seventh-day Adventist Church (Qld) member Rodney Hutton recently had the experience of a lifetime, participating in the Queen’s Baton Relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. But the story of how he got there was unlike most other participants.

“I was sitting one evening towards the end of 2016 working on some Pathfinder issues when an ad came onto the TV,” Rod says. “It was advertising the Queen’s Baton Relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, and was inviting those who wished to participate in it to apply.”

Rod commented to his wife Kathy that he’d like to apply, acknowledging it would be a great once-in-a-lifetime experience. Stopping what he was doing, he went straight to the website he’d seen on TV, but, to his dismay, realised he couldn’t apply—those wishing to participate had to be nominated by someone else.

Oh well, Rod thought to himself. That’s the end of that.

Rod didn’t give the matter any more thought. However, his wife Kathy hadn’t given up so quickly. She decided it would still be nice for Rod to have a go at the relay, so she contacted their son Tim, telling him his father wanted to take part in the relay. Would he like to nominate Rod?

“He went ahead and did precisely that, while neither of them told me anything at all about it!” Rod says. “Tim wrote a beautiful nomination—that I would eventually get to read—relating to the 37 years I have spent in children’s nursing in Queensland, and also for my Pathfinder and Adventurer work, locally, nationally, and internationally.”

In March 2017, Rod received an email from the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay team letting him know that he had been nominated.

“They asked me whether I would like to accept the nomination and continue to the next level of selection,” Rod says. “Would I? YES!”

Rod carrying the Baton.

After passing the first level of selection, Rod didn’t hear anything for a few months. But in October 2017, he received an email that read, “Congratulations! You have been successful through the levels of selection, and we’d like to offer you a place in the relay.”

Rod was thrilled that he’d been selected. However, the story was about to begin a whole new twist.

“I was awarded a Sabbath time slot,” says Rod. “I immediately emailed them back saying that I was I was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, so was unable to take part on Saturday, but could at any other time. Unfortunately, then I read the next paragraph that said there was no chance of moving the offer to another time because of the intense logistics. So with this, I declined the offer in writing.”

However, as Rod continued to read the offer, it said there were others who had been chosen as relief participants, and one of those people would be allocated to his spot should he not participate in the relay. This was an idea for Rod: if there was a relief runner for his segment, perhaps he could be a relief runner for someone else on a day other than Sabbath!

Rod called the officials and explained that he’d written to them explaining his religious beliefs and his decision not to take part in the relay on his Sabbath day. He asked if he could be a relief runner on another day, seeing as he was one of the initial 3800 people chosen. After some deliberation, the officials said yes—Rod would just need to tell them in writing where he wanted to go, and what dates. Rod told them he would go anywhere and any time, as long as it didn’t involve sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

About a month went by, and Rod still hadn’t heard anything from the officials. At this point, he began to accept that his chance to take part in the relay had passed. But then on November 12, Rod’s phone rang. It was a gentleman from the Queen’s Baton Relay team, and he had an offer for Rod: would he still like to be part of the relay? And if so, would he like to be the official runner on Good Friday?

Rod was one of hundreds of official Batonbearers on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, and carried the baton through part of the northern Brisbane community of Chermside.

“Taking part was absolutely fantastic,” says Rod. “Being recognised for what the Lord has given me the ability to do over the years was great, but to be able to share with others my story of getting there was even better because that allowed for God to be honoured.”

“I have always maintained in life that a faithful steward will always be rewarded. As Christians, we know that this will come to us when Jesus comes and takes us home to be with him in eternity, but on occasions here on this old earth, he rewards our faithfulness, and I believe that is what happened to me on this occasion.”

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