Thursday, 14 July 2016
Writer Marguerite Marshall, Living Faith Church
A vibrant ten years of outreach and adventure was celebrated on Sunday July 10 by Living Faith Church, Greensborough (an innovative co-operation of the Uniting Church and Churches of Christ).
The celebration was marked in powerful symbolism with the baptism of two new members of the church, Rachel and son Michael (pictured), at the Sunday morning service. This was followed by a ‘bring and share’ lunch when old and new members and visitors reminisced and got to know each other.
The two churches came together under the motto, “We can do more together than we can apart.” This has proved true as many new programs to serve the community have developed over the ten years—Kids Hope, a mentoring program; supporting prisoners and their families via Prison Fellowship; work with Food Share and the Diamond Valley Community Support; Tucker Club, a monthly free community meal; visiting and advocating for refugees and people seeking asylum; advocating for First Peoples; climate change seminars; carer support group; supporting Vanuatu Eye Care program and hosting many trainees here in Australia; running Introduction to Christianity courses with Alpha; café church dinners with inspirational speakers; a marching group to aid health in older people.
The combined church continued programs including Sunday school, Christian Women’s Fellowship, youth group, kids club, two playgroups which are open to the wider community, the Friendship Centre, Codgers, work with Samaritan’s Purse to provide Christmas presents to people in need, annually providing school equipment for children in the Pacific, and LINC (Love In the Name of Christ) which works with other churches locally to provide transport to people in the wider community to attend doctor and other important appointments.
In the past ten years the congregation has lost and gained members. Some left because of the union and the Living Faith church faces the same challenges of declining numbers as does the wider Church. We now have 204 members, most of which are of retirement age. Uniting Church members make up about two thirds, and Church of Christ members about one third, of the congregation.
A book, Together for God, on how the two churches combined and flourished together was available for sale at the celebration. It was written by the founding Church of Christ minister Adrian Clark who, with the Uniting Church ministers Lynden and Rose Broadstock, formed the cooperation. In the introduction Adrian says that it is his prayer that the book will be a resource for others who are considering a change in their church. It tells of the honest assessment, discernment and change, and deeply spiritual journey of the two churches.
Both ministers who later moved to other churches sent congratulatory messages to the congregation.
Adrian Clark wrote of the beginning, “In a time when ministry resources were diminishing and becoming locked into maintenance activities, we combined what we had, ‘to do more together than we could do apart’… So the journey was about more ministry for the Kingdom of God in the Greensborough area.”
Lynden Broadstock wrote, “It was done of course believing that two communities of faith together, could be more, and do more, than they could apart. It seems to me that the journey has confirmed this hope. I want to acknowledge the prayer, the hard thinking, the hospitality, the good-will and the openness to God’s Spirit that marked the process. And to acknowledge how people from both churches were willing to suffer some loss for what was seen as a greater good.”
In the foreword to Together for God, Rosemary and Lynden Broadstock wrote, “The exciting risky journey began with simple conversation. Greensborough Regional Church of Christ was wrestling under Adrian’s leadership to discern a faithful shape for the future.”
In the introduction Adrian Clark wrote, probably in April or May 2003 after a Ministers’ Association meeting in Greensborough, he told Lynden about the local Church of Christ questioning the shape of their future with one option to sell the church. Adrian asked Lynden for his opinion and Lynden said he would think about it. About three weeks later Lynden suggested the Church of Christ meet at the UCA church at a different time to when the UCA met. Rosemary soon convinced them that meeting together would be better for the congregation, in particular the young. So the two churches formally became one community July 2, 2006.
In congratulatory messages the current Uniting Church minister Rev Graeme Harrison said, "We can do more together than we can apart… so let us give thanks to God for the grace that moves us.”
The Churches of Christ minister Glen Coleman said, “As we celebrate our first decade together, and begin the next, let us continue to work hard at aligning ourselves with God’s desires, day by day, ensuring that we are standing firmly and confidently on our foundation.”
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