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.
On Saturday April 24th 2021, Tabor College hosted a graduation for the graduating students of 2019 and 2020 in lieu of last years cancelled graduation ceremony. Among the graduates were 9 students who were from Churches of Christ or connected with Churches of Christ through the Tabor Churches of Christ Study Centre. It is a great privilege as the Director of the Centre for nearly 6 years to assist so many students in setting up ministry placements with or churches so they can develop their ministry skills. I am grateful to the many churches who have journeyed with us and contributed to the development of these minister.
Not all students made it to the graduation ceremony but this picture captures something of the growing diversity of our student cohort. From left to right here are the graduates and the churches who hosted their placements named alongside them.
Riley Sapsford, Diploma in Theology (Elizabeth Church of Christ); Greg Woolner, Bachelor of Ministry (Murray Bridge & Victor Harbor Churches of Christ); Martin Lee, Master of Divinity (Magill Church of Christ); Mark Riessen, Director Tabor Churches of Christ Study Centre, Faculty Ministry, Theology & Culture & Director of Mission & Ministry; Heather Restall, Master of Divinity (Hewett & Colonel Light Gardens Churches of Christ); Tanya Bobin, Bachelor of Ministry (Blair Athol Church of Christ).
Graduates not pictured include:
Benjamin Rowe, Bachelor of Intercultural Studies (Elizabeth Church of Christ & Streetlight); Collin Heslop, Bachelor on Ministry (Magill Church of Christ & Owen United Church); Jacob Johnson, Bachelor of Ministry (Aldgate Church of Christ); Craig Schultz, Graduate Diploma in Ministry (Brighton & Blackwood Churches of Christ).
Congratulations to all our graduates and thank you to all the churches involved in helping our students develop in ministry.
We currently have 18 Churches of Christ students enrolled at Tabor College completing studies with the school of Ministry, Theology & Culture. If you would like to find out more about the Tabor Churches of Christ Study Centre, discuss study options, find out how to host a student ministry with your church or would like to contribute financially to the development of our students, please contact Mark Riessen at email@example.com
Churches of Christ ADF Chaplain, Rev. Luke Skipper has created a new resource that seeks to bring the Good News to current serving members of the Australian Defence Force and to the Ex Services Community. Originally the now titled ‘Army Christian Services’ were filmed with the intention to aid Soldiers and other Defence Force Members who whilst training found it increasingly difficult to get to Church.
Feedback was then received that this Christian resource would also be of great value to the Ex Services Community. The understanding being, that many in the Ex Service Community still have a strong affiliation/connection to the military and that this would be a great resource to help them engage with the Christian message.
The Services are short in duration (about 30 minutes) and feature topical messages that are easy for anyone to relate to. Messages are about topics like Worry, Time, Being Thankful, Friends, Enemies and other important topics relevant to all.
The Ex Service Community is extremely vast and we need help to get the word out. What we are seeking to do is to get this resource promoted widely. How can you help? Please share these Services on your social media accounts and to put up PDF Posters anywhere possible places like RSL’s, Ex Service Associations, Shopping Centres, Community Noticeboards, Places of Work, Study and Recreation. If you would like to be involved further we are also looking for passionate Christian people who want to outreach to this community to join the team who can meet with people from their geographic area and answer their questions or simply talk and share with them about Christianity.
Army Christian Services are now available on Facebook Page: Army Christian Services or go to the web lnk below.
If you would like to help or have any questions please feel free to email Australian Army Chaplain Luke Skipper at firstname.lastname@example.org