Keith Vincent Garner

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Keith Vincent Garner, born in 1955 in Greater Manchester, UK, is an ordained Uniting Church Minister who has been Superintendent/Chief Executive Officer of Wesley Mission in Sydney, Australia since his induction in 2006.[1] In this role, he leads more than 1950 staff and 4000 volunteers in 130 different centres engaged in social and community work with a wide range of community groups throughout NSW.[2] In July 2012 the organisation began a three-year festival marking 200 years since its establishment in Sydney in 1812.[3] Keith Garner has preached and missioned internationally and is a contributor to the UK evangelical website, The Sermon.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Garner is married, and he and his wife live on the Lower North Shore in Sydney in the suburb of Roseville. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1982 and was a minister at St. John's Methodist church in Llandudno as well as working with St. David's church in Craig-y-Don. Garner completed his Master of Theology at Oxford University in 1995]], and has preached in Africa, Iceland, Europe, North America and Asia.[1] Garner has been a frequent speaker, whilst in the UK, at Cliff College festivals.[5]

Community involvement[edit]

Garner is an active supporter of the Evangelical Bible Seminary of Yangon [1], in the Union of Myanmar, which bestowed upon him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity on 8 March 2008. Through his role at Wesley Mission, Garner is closely involved with welfare and service provision to the aged, families, the unemployed and homeless, those experiencing financial stress, addictions and personal crises. His contribution was recognised with his inclusion in the Rudd Government's Australia 2020 Summit in 2008.[6] Garner has been a Rotarian since 1995 and is a member of Sydney Rotary Club and the Australian Club. He is a Board member of the Community Council of Australia and Deputy Chair of the NSW Premier’s Council on Homelessness.[7] On 28 March 2013 Garner received an Outstanding Community Service Award from the NSW Government. The award was presented by the Hon Marie Ficarra MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of NSW, in recognition of his work in the community, particularly as an advocate for social justice, via Lifeline and Wesley Mission.

In August 2014, Garner and NSW Premier Mike Baird signed the first contracts in “the most significant reform of homelessness services in a generation”[2].[8] Garner said the Going Home Staying Home program – for which the NSW Government is spending more than half a billion dollars over the next three years with partners such as Wesley Mission – was an opportunity to break the cycle of inter-generational homelessness and that he was pleased to see more funding directed to suburban and regional areas given Wesley Mission’s research that more than 70 per cent of homeless people using inner-Sydney services come from suburban and regional areas. “We are now moving from ad hoc and piecemeal approaches to homelessness to a more strategic and cohesive model,” Garner said.[9][3]

Publications and media appearances[edit]

The documentary John Wesley: The Man and his Mission, co-written and presented by Garner, won Third Place for Best Documentary[10] at the International Christian Film Festival (ICFF) in 2013.[11] Garner journeyed throughout England to trace the story of the founder of Methodism in this “beautifully produced documentary” released by UK-based distributor Gateway Films/Vision Video.[10] A review describes the documentary, directed by Richard Attieh, as “an inspiration to Christians and principled humanitarians of all faiths, highly recommended especially for public library and church DVD collections”.[12]

In 2013 Garner was interviewed on the ABC about the key Wesley Mission report, Homelessness and the next generation, which reported a change in the demographic of those experiencing homelessness.[13] He expressed concern that action on homelessness would be overlooked by both sides of politics in the bid to win government.[14] In May 2012 Keith Garner spoke about the Wesley Mission report, Keeping minds well: Caring till it hurts.[15] He has written A Word for the World (2013) [16] and Cross Talk – Words for the Crossroads of Life (2008).[17] He regularly hosts television programs produced by Wesley Mission which are shown on Channel 9 and the Australian Christian Channel. He was involved in the film Santa’s Forgotten People, a documentary about the Wesley Mission's work with the homeless at Christmas.[18] Garner is a recognised spokesperson for welfare issues and frequently speaks on ABC Local Radio with John Cleary,[19] discussing issues such as financial stress and homelessness in Australia.[20] In late June 2013, marking 50 years since the inception of the Lifeline Suicide Prevention service, Keith and Carol Garner welcomed ABC radio presenter, Simon Marnie, to their home for Sunday Brunch, part of the Weekends with Simon Marnie program on ABC 702.[21] He also writes opinion pieces in the mainstream media The Sydney Morning Herald.[22] One article from 2012, supporting the community drive to protect public holidays,[23] was widely quoted by work/life balance advocacy groups, such as the Facebook community group, Take the Time.[24] Another article,[25] marking the 2013 birth of Prince George of Cambridge, contrasted the life of a royal baby with that of a child born to a family struggling as part of Australia's "working poor".

Wesley Mission's famous evangelist leader, Rev Dr Sir Alan Walker's life and work was honoured in Garner's book, The Authentic Australian Evangelist: Alan Walker, published in March, 2014. The release of the book was accompanied by an address at Wesley Church on 13 March 2014. In his address, Garner said Walker, called "the conscience of the nation" by the former Governor-General, Bill Hayden,[26] "will always be remembered for his strong Christian leadership … and a preparedness to stand beside the most vulnerable and disadvantaged no matter the personal cost. He also had a willingness to take a stand on what were then unpopular causes, but which later became orthodox thinking.” The address is available on DVD.[4]

Garner launched the Wesley Report, Giving Disability Carers a Break[5], in May 2014, saying Wesley Mission's research found that more than a third of families in Australia had a person with a disability and that the role of carer "was hugely taxing and takes its toll on even the most robust, loving people."[27]

In July 2014, Garner was interviewed in the media about Wesley Mission's early intervention program in south-west Sydney for young mothers with a mental illness. Garner said the intervention program sought to help mothers to develop resilience "and remain connected with networks of support and friendship". He said he was happy the NSW Government had made mental health a policy priority.[28][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "God's man at the mission". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  2. ^ "Wesley Mission welcomes NSW government pledge". Where I Live. 
  3. ^ Milnes, Richard. "Wesley Mission celebrates bicentenary". Digital Journal. 
  4. ^ Sermon, The. "Two lost boys". 
  5. ^ "Time for change? Festival 2009". Cliff College. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  6. ^ Australia 2020 Summit participants
  7. ^ Cripps, S (2010-04-01). "A successful first meeting of the Premier’s Council on Homelessness". 
  8. ^ http://www.psnews.com.au/nsw/Page_NSWpsn37815.html
  9. ^ http://www.3wnews.org/article/news/wesley-mission-expands-nsw-services_392
  10. ^ a b https://www.visionvideo.com/detail.taf?_function=detail&a_product_id=37035&refurl=/search_by_text.taf?%5Ffunction%3Dtext%5Flist%26keyword%3Dwesley
  11. ^ http://www.internationalcff.com/2013-winners.html
  12. ^ http://www.midwestbookreview.com/wbw/sep_13.htm
  13. ^ Sara, Sally. "More women and children facing homelessness: report". ABC News. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "homeless-families-on-the-rise". Ninemsn. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Eastley, Tony. "AM". ABC news. 
  16. ^ http://books.google.com.au/books/about/A_Word_for_the_World.html?id=KMH5mgEACAAJ&redir_esc=y
  17. ^ Garner, KV (2008). Cross Talk: Words for the Crossroads of Life. Kentigern Publishing. ISBN 9780980460506. 
  18. ^ "Santa's Forgotten People". 
  19. ^ Cleary, John. "The Lounge". Sunday Night. ABC Radio. 
  20. ^ Cleary, John. "Signpost: Keith Garner on Homelessness". 
  21. ^ http://blogs.abc.net.au/nsw/2013/05/sunday-brunch-revdr-keith-garner-sun-26513.html
  22. ^ Garner, KV (2011-12-31). "Narrative needs rewrite to avoid losing the plot". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  23. ^ "Ongoing battle to keep this relaxing day for you and your family". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ "Take the Time". 
  25. ^ "A Modern Version of the Prince and the Pauper". 
  26. ^ Moyes, Gordon. "Death of the Reverend Dr Sir Alan Walker". Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  27. ^ "Giving Disability Carers a Break - Report". Pro Bono Australia. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  28. ^ South West Advertiser. 15 July 2014.