Friendship and Care in Naracoorte

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16 September, 2020

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.


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