Naracoorte Church of Christ Friendship Centre is a big part of the ministry of the church and meets each week during school terms. Its doors are open to anyone and is a welcoming place for people to gather on Thursday mornings to share time together, encourage one another, play table games, maybe participate in a craft activity which they bring along— or learn a new one if there is one on offer at the time. There’s always a lot of chatter and laughter—and a whole lot of caring and sharing. Morning tea is available throughout the 2-hour meetings.
Committee members present a “Think Spot” each week. These are printed and made into a booklet at the end of each year and presented to all participants and supporters of the ministry. Extra copies are made available for hospital visitation or for those who are in the nursing home or shut-in with illness or (old) age.
Of course, meetings were suspended in March until July, due to the Coronavirus lockdown. What a joy it was to come together again at the beginning of term 3, albeit following specific guide lines for group gatherings— sanitizing hands, tables, chairs etc. staying 1.5 metres apart, and serving pre-packed biscuits and cake for morning teas.
During the time of meeting suspension, the committee determined to maintain contact with all participants with phone calls, text messages and emails. A “Survival Kit” was prepared and hand delivered, or posted, to everyone—a novel way of assuring them of our thoughts and that we were in this situation together. A fortnightly letter called “Keeping in Touch”, was published during this period. It contained greetings, Bible verses and notes of encouragement, a Think Spot, some jokes and even a recipe or two. Since re-opening, it was decided to continue this fortnightly connection as quite a few of our regular participants have not been able to attend as yet and others just wanted them to keep on coming.
On average, 35 attended the meetings each week between the period July 2019—March 2020, and an average of 29 attended July—September 2020 despite the Covid-19 restrictions. About half attending do not have further affiliation with our church. We pray that more will feel the need to come to Sunday services but, for now, Friendship Centre is their “church”.
Friendship Centre is in its 34th year of continuous ministry, which commenced in May of 1987 during the ministry of Grant and Julie Simpson.
The group supports the Global Mission Partners Christmas Gifts Appeal by the sale of donated garden produce, homemade jams and sauces, or the sale of craft items and original poetry booklets. Each year it is exciting to see how much there is in funds to purchase items needed in various parts of the world. Participants and church members also collect their 5-cent coins throughout the year for this cause.
Over the years, items of clothing and blankets have been knitted or crocheted and forwarded on to CareWorks, or to Ruth Telfer, to be distributed where best needed, either locally or overseas.
For many years the group and church members have made, or purchased, items to include in the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas (Shoe) Box Appeal—the aim is to fill 70 boxes each year. There is a dedicated couple who have this ministry close to their hearts, and enthuse others to participate. Friendship Centre has also supported the local Pastoral Care Workers funding for many years —mainly with donations from the sale of garden produce in the 3rd term.
The Cancer Council is supported through donations at Friendship Centre’s version of the Biggest Morning Tea, corresponding with its birthday in May each year.
Other appeals are considered on their merit as they arise.
We usually have a special mid-year Soup and Sandwich lunch at the end of term 2, though it was not possible this year.
Extra effort is made at the end of each year to make Christmas relevant and show participants, particularly non-Christians, that it is a special time when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour. The meeting hall and chapel are decorated appropriately and our beautiful nativity scene set up in the chapel for all to admire. A special Christmas program is presented with carol singing, quizzes, a group craft activity relating to the chosen Christmas ‘theme’, followed by a Christmas lunch provided mainly by the committee, with participants bringing Christmas ‘finger– food’ goodies as dessert. (This may need to be modified this year, depending on the restrictions—but we will adapt and still make it a special time.)
There is a dedicated and loyal team on the committee who have maintained the ethos of a Friendship Centre, sharing their friendship, care, gifts and talents throughout the years. We trust that the light and love of Jesus will be seen in our contact with those whom Jesus draws along each week. We long to see more come to know Him as Lord and Saviour.
2020 has been an unusual year, but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening. It has been good to meet together again, both in person and via social media.
On the 30th August the Riverland Christian College youth band took the service and did a fantastic job leading the worship. Erin Taylor, our PCW to four schools, spoke a great message that encouraged the young folk. With the College kids, their families, plus a number of other visitors, we had over 30 visitors and a total of 93 in attendance, our largest service ever, even with restrictions. It was a great service.
During lockdown work commenced on building the large shed to house the Berri Community Men’s Shed. This was made possible with grants and donations of over $100,000. We still need another $80,000+ to complete stage one of our project which includes toilets to service the Men’s Shed including a disabled toilet, a kitchen in the Men’s Shed, large rainwater tanks, as well as a new septic system. We will also complete some updates to our Sunday School room, a verandah on the side of the SS building, and a kitchenette in the rear of the SS room, all as part of stage 1 of our long term plans.
On the 26th September we are holding an Open Day for the Men’s Shed and a Spring Market on the Church grounds to help attract people. This is a day of promotion and gaining community interest for the Men’s Shed.
On the 27th September we are holding a special ‘faith offering’ to give our congregation an opportunity to give purposefully to the Building Project. Some members have already been very generous.
The weekly Sew and Chat group recommenced meeting some weeks ago and enjoy the company. Small groups have been up and down, sometimes not knowing if they can meet. The Peppertree Shack men’s ministry has not recommenced yet due to Covid restrictions - maybe next term. Our MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) will recommence next term.
The congregation is in very good spirits and enjoy worshipping together. We praise God that despite the restrictions we have maintained our giving and are still meeting budget. We praise God for his goodness. He is good, all the time.
The Brighton congregation only had a few weeks to enjoy their newly refurbished Chapel before the COVID-19 shutdown came into effect.
However, when “the great resumption” finally takes place, the members and friends of Brighton will have this sparkling new facility in which to witness and worship. The Chapel was built in the mid-60s and had remained virtually untouched during the intervening years.
Now, the look is light, fresh and much more contemporary, with two new overhead data projectors and a new sound desk. Split-level air conditioning is also a feature of the makeover.
Jim Bartlett (Wally’s son, for those who remember) is the builder who erected the original church. Today he’s a member at Brighton and, at 87 years of age, was one of the most active and enthusiastic voluntary workers on the project.
Brighton’s minister, Graham Agnew, says he has rarely seen more passion and dedication invested into a project, than what he saw at Brighton…
Marion Church of Christ
One of the things that wasn’t expected of our young adults ministry was to see new members join during the pandemic, but that’s exactly what happened. Being reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2: 9 that “…the Word of God is not chained…” we saw one young lady come to faith in Jesus first by connecting with her Christian cousin (who lives overseas) online and then speaking with a member of our church.
Having a new Christian thrown into the mix always helps spur on growth in the body. The growth in our Young Adults wasn’t just numerical by adding one, but also spiritual. As someone comes into a Christian community for the first time (first online, and now more recently in person) new questions are asked and assumptions questioned. As a result, there is a fresh re-examining of each person’s own faith as they look inward for answers and realise the beauty of what lies at the heart of the Gospel.
MarionLIFE launched The Staying Connected Project to help those in the community who are digitally disconnected to remain socially connected. The project connects volunteers with vulnerable people in the community who are looking for someone to check in with them via a phone call or letter. A friendly voice on the phone or letter in the mail can make a big difference. As a volunteer for the project explained, “In this difficult time we need to work closer together, support each other to survive as a community.”
A feature of the project is a letterbox that has also been installed on Alawoona Avenue, Mitchell Park making it possible for anyone to drop off letters of kindness and encouragement that are then passed on to those who need it most.
More information is available at the link below
SOUTHPOINT CHURCH OF CHRIST
Our vision at SouthPoint is Bless, Belong, Believe, Become. Our aim is to be a blessing to our community so that people have a place to belong, no questions asked. In doing life together, we are able to share our faith in Jesus Christ so that we can all become what God has always intended for us.
During COVID-19 we started a community garden where the community could come and be part of a project that blesses our neighbours. It was wonderful to see the community involvement. We also opened our building to Puddle Jumpers who gives out food to around 400 people on Mondays. They use our facilities to prepare the meals and it was great to see volunteers get involved.
Our men had their first get together after lock-down and it was great to have Dr. Paul Whetham speaking about the “Elephant in the Room” namely, mental health. It was amazing to see men open up around this topic.
Our young people continued to gather on a Friday night and it was a blessing to see so many staying engaged.
Our “CREATE” department also opened up for community artists to come and enhance their painting skills.
Brooklyn Park Church of Christ
As COVID restrictions kicked in, we sensed a rare opportunity dig deeply into this question and why God has us at Brooklyn Park.
It was encouraging to recognize that our purpose – a Jesus-centred spiritual family who are passionate about seeing lives change – was still the core of who God was calling us to be. Even if we couldn’t meet in the same space, there were so many ways in which we could still live those values out together.
However, our Board wrestled with what we would do if we were starting a church from scratch in August 2020. We imagined a scenario where we were given our fantastic facility and a diverse group of 80-90 people to kick off our new church. We settled on 2 key priorities. We would have a simple but intentional time of gathering together, where we took time to be reminded about who God is, what Jesus has done for us, share family stories, unpack and apply Scripture together and gather around the Communion table to reflect, remember and celebrate. We would also invest heavily in small groups – 3-10 people connecting regularly to share their joys and struggles, learn from each other, talk about their next steps in their walk with Jesus, how to serve and support our neighbours and pray together.
Earth-shattering? Not really! But we have been very challenged about how much of our focus, energy and resourcing goes towards both of those key areas and whether the other things we’re doing are helping or holding back those priorities for us.
We’re excited about the journey ahead and the continued refining that we believe God is doing in and through us at BPCC.
Can you drink nothing but water for one month to transform lives through safe water?
Safe Water September is a challenge to drink nothing but water for the entire month of September, to raise funds for safe water projects in rural Zimbabwe and Vanuatu. Yes, you can still eat food, but no coffee, tea, soft drink or milkshakes! For every $20 you raise, one person gains access to life-changing safe water. This means kids will go to school, child and maternal deaths will drop, and communities will be transformed!
Globally, 1 in 10 people don't have clean water close to home – we want to change this.
Gather a team and join us! Sign up to take the challenge now at [www.safewaterseptember.org.au](http://www.safewaterseptember.org.au/) You’ll also find some great resources online to help you get started, including a video clip, blog and simulation game.
When you participate in the challenge, donate, or even spread the word, you are helping to make a difference in the lives of people living in Zimbabwe and Vanuatu. Thank you!
Stirling Theological College is seeking a Principal to lead the college in 2021 and beyond. Stirling is a Christian theological college affiliated with [Churches of Christ in Australia](https://www.cofcaustralia.org/). A college of the [University of Divinity](https://divinity.edu.au/), Stirling teaches undergraduate and postgraduate (coursework and research) degrees to PhD level. Innovative courses in leadership, counselling, ministry, theology, biblical studies, pastoral education, spirituality, supervision, and Christian discipleship are offered through flexible learning programs.
Stirling’s vision is to be a Christ-centred learning community that equips people to advance God’s shalom for the flourishing of the world. Leadership, ministry and mission formation is a key aspect of Stirling’s life. It is also committed to providing a stimulating learning centre for people to engage in theological education with practical application in diverse cultural contexts within the church and the wider community.
The campus is located at 44 – 60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave 3170 Victoria. The campus is closed until 31st January 2021 due to the restrictions of COVID-19. All courses in 2020 are being delivered on-line.
A generous salary and benefits package will be negotiated with the successful applicant.
Stirling Theological College is partnering with UniRecruit to undertake a national and international search for high calibre candidates for this position. Detailed information about Stirling, selection criteria, the position description, and the application process is available on the UniRecruit website http://www.uni-recruit.com.au/current-roles/
Confidential enquiries should be made to:
Michael Toohey on +61 (0) 418 883 807 or email@example.com; or to,
Ann Newton on +61 (0) 412 358 234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are to be emailed to Michael Toohey by the closing date of Friday 21 August 2020.
Aldgate Church of Christ, The Village Well
What does it mean to find our unique story in God’s story and how do we hear it spoken through our interactions with others? While COVID-19 has certainly impacted us as a community it has reminded us of the story continuing to unfold in our liminal spaces, of creativity that is born in times of listening and contemplation. And, it has challenged us to be open to discerning how the Grand Storyteller finds creative ways to still reveal the Word.
The Studio continues to be a space of connection, relationship, mutual listening and evolvement. When we could not gather in groups or outside, chalk drawing appeared in the car park where neighbours would walk beside, a bare wooden cross among the gum trees became a place for anyone to leave a message, a prayer, a symbol of hope and we painted ‘au plein air’.
As The Studio recommences inside our building we begin connecting with members in the wider hills community to prepare for an exhibition, offering The Well as a place to share our stories through art. The Story continuing to move in all and through all.