Despite a COVID-19 lockdown forcing a last-minute change of plans, Stanley Roberts was ordained in unique circumstances as a Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) at Papunya in the Northern Territory late last year.
LCA/NZ Bishop John Henderson had planned to conduct the ordination on 22 November at the Indigenous community 240 kilometres west of Alice Springs, but a snap lockdown announced in South Australia a few days earlier prevented him leaving Adelaide.
However, local leaders decided to proceed, with Finke River Mission (FRM) fieldworker Pastor Paul Traeger ordaining and installing Stanley to his new roles. Pastor Stanley will serve as SMP for Papunya and the Pintupi-Luritja language area. It is believed to be the first time in the LCA that an SMP has ordained another SMP. More than 200 people attended the service held at the local school basketball court due to the church having been damaged by a fire. After a procession of pastors and evangelists, Papunya Pastor Graham Poulson opened the service, conducted a baptism and preached, while Pastor Stanley led the communion liturgy after his ordination.
Pastor Stanley, 45, is the son of the late Pastor Murphy Roberts, who 38 years ago became one of the first Pintupi-Luritja pastors ordained. While his father did not live to see Stanley ordained, one relative who did was a local pastor, who sadly died suddenly just four days later. Pastor Stanley said later: ‘He must have been waiting for me’.
Pastor Stanley was also presented with the late Pastor Max Stollznow’s robe. Pastor Max was serving as FRM Support Worker and pastor at Papunya when Murphy Roberts was ordained.
A former community night patrol worker, Pastor Stanley finished that role in 2019 to concentrate on ministry duties, having completed the FRM pastors’ curriculum. He is married to Sheila and has four children.
– reporting by Pastor Paul Traeger