Fairwell to Wesley Mission
August 22, 2008

This will be my last Radio 2GB News Commentary for Wesley Mission. This commentary is therefore a farewell to the listeners and readers over the years.

The series began in 1991, when I joined the Mission’s staff for a second time, and the Mission then had a controlling interest in Radio 2GB. We wanted to increase the Mission’s profile on the radio station.

Even though the Mission later sold its interest in the radio station, the series has continued. The intention has been to produce short, thoughtful pieces. The script is reprinted in the Wesley Mission weekly news magazine and it is syndicated around the world.

One of the differences in the last 17 years has been the greatly improved forms of transmitting the commentaries. In the old days, a person would need to hear the broadcast or read the Mission newsletter or be faxed a copy of the script.

Fax machines have largely disappeared but the Internet has enabled the commentaries to go around the world to “subscribers”. I am very grateful to the Mission’s highly skilled IT (information technology) staff for sending these scripts out to people each week.

The broadcasts themselves are now heard around the world on the Internet because of the ability to broadcast “live” through the Internet. A person with Internet access can therefore hear the broadcast even though they may be living well away from the actual broadcast range of the broadcast signal itself travelling through the air.

I have often commented in these items on the pace of change. This issue of transmission of the commentaries is in itself an example of that change.

Some of the progress is due to “Moore’s Law”. Gordon Moore is a founder of Intel and four decades ago he predicted that the power of computers would double every 18 months-2 years and would halve in price.

When he first made the prediction, the power of computer chips was so small that no one cared about doubling power. But now the doubling power is beginning to kick in. We can do things with computers which could not even have been conceived of only a few years ago. Our lives are being transformed by them.

An example of the power of doubling comes from collecting humble cent coins. If I saved a cent on the 1st day of the month, two cents on the 2nd day, four on the 3rd, eight on the 4th, and so on, by the end of the month I would have saved $5.3 million. August has 31 – not 30 – days and so the doubling on the 31st day would take me up to $10.6 million.

I have very much enjoyed my service at Wesley Mission. It began in December 1976 and ran through until the end of 1981, when I was transferred to the National Assembly office of the Uniting Church (1982-5). I returned in January 1991, having spent five years (1986-90) with Trinity Uniting Church in Perth, Western Australia. The Mission is the most exciting place to work within the Uniting Church.

Having reached the grand old age of 60, I have decided to retire. But I am retaining my interest in the Uniting Church. I am now working on my third doctorate – a study of the future of the Uniting Church.

After a short break in September, these news commentaries will resume. Another new role in my new life will be that of a “blogger” (“web logger”) – another innovation of the Internet era.