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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Wayside Chapel farewell for Graham Long

Our family has known Graham Long and his wife Robyn for a long time. I have taken the liberty to post this message from the Wayside Chapel which is a wonderful tribute. John Owen is the young man replacing Graham as the new CEO.

"Dear Inner Circle,

Have you ever emerged from an event or a moment that left you feeling somehow, changed; knowing you had just been elevated out of time, and been touched by the awesome? Surely last Sunday afternoon was such a moment. Close to 600 of you, our beloved Inner Circle, came from all over Australia, to attend our Celebration Sunday event to thank Graham for his contribution. At the same time we recognised that we have found ourselves on a path to a destiny where, “Love Over Hate” is not a slogan but lived, real, and embodied in us all. At the event we were all surprised and delighted that in the front row, sat Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull. What a nightmare of a week they had just experienced, and who of us in that spot would have wanted to face a large public audience? To have them fly up from Canberra on Sunday especially to attend our event was truly remarkable. It spoke volumes of the Turnbull’s love of Wayside, Graham and our continued mission. When Malcolm addressed the audience, he didn’t just speak, but, opened his heart to us – what a moment!

For over two years, Graham and our Board have carefully planned generational change in this succession. Finding a new leader is a tough assignment but no plan would have worked unless the current leader had the extraordinary ability to step out of a role in which he was currently thriving. For years, Graham has been teaching that whenever we find ourselves thriving in an occupation, or in a relationship, at our happiest, we find ourselves to be “necessary, significant but not central”. It’s been a joy to hear him teach this, but also an inspiration to see him live it out in this succession process.
This week, I've been flooded with story after story of lives slowly turning around through participation in our art, gardening, karaoke and evening bingo. We know good things are going to happen when the driving question changes from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?” We are seeing more and more people from our community moving into roles that serve others, everywhere I look I see sparks of life shining brightly. A few months ago I was deeply concerned for a young woman who had gone missing. This morning she tapped me on the shoulder, smiling but nervous. She has just gotten out of rehab and trying to do all she can to avoid bad company, “Good wins in the end right?”, she asked me. I replied with a smile "That’s our hope and we’ve staked our lives on it”. 
Thanks for being part of this inner circle,

Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

PS. We premiered two very special videos at Celebration Sunday, of members of the Inner Circle sharing their own personal messages of thanks to Graham. If you weren’t able to make the event, you can watch Part 1    and Part 2 here.

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