Selfie Sunday

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

From Janet Woodlock, Federal Coordinator of Churches of Christ in Australia.

What might happen if Churches of Christ across Australia took a giant “family portrait” one day? Celebrated their unity, their mission, their story, and their identity together? What might God do in and through our movement?

I am inviting you to take a photo of your church family, and to record other photos and stories that capture something of the life of your church community as part of Selfie Sunday, an Australia-wide initiative to take a snapshot of Churches of Christ in Australia.

It is hoped that through participation in Selfie Sunday you can:

  • Create a family portrait of your church community that will be preserved for posterity.
  • Celebrate the life of your community.
  • Honour those who serve among you.
  • Create another avenue of witness to the many ways you bless your community.
  • Be inspired by other churches in our wider family: their joys, challenges, mission activities, and creative responses to their host communities.

What will this require?

  • Pick a date to take a photograph of your congregation(s). I suggest Sunday in October 2, Churches of Christ Sunday (though you might pick a church anniversary or other significant date for your church).
  • Take a few photographs that represent the life of your community more broadly through the week: playgroups, small groups, community meals, children’s ministries, youth groups, bible studies, op shops and so on.
  • Write down a little about your church community: guidelines will be provided for this.
  • This material will be emailed to a central location, and become part of a website that includes the portraits and stories of hundreds of other Churches of Christ around Australia.

This idea was prompted by AB Maston's 1903 Jubilee Pictorial History of Churches of Christ in Australasia. The author made a photographic record of Church of Christ in Australia and New Zealand, and wrote up the story of each congregation.

I later learned the Jubilee Pictorial History is an unusual book. Other Christian traditions documenting their histories in this era told the stories of key leaders. This was a book of the people; of ordinary congregations. It captured images of men, women, children, and even the occasional dog. It was wildly popular. The Jubilee Pictorial History was a unifying force for Churches of Christ in Australia. It was a major stimulus for the first Federal Conference of Churches of Christ in Australia in 1906. This Conference led to the formation of the College of the Bible (now Stirling College) in the following year. Establishing a bible college was highly significant in providing trained ministers for Churches of Christ. Aside from some short-term local efforts, before this time aspiring ministers travelled to the United States for a theological education. Very few of these Australian trainees ever returned to our shores. The formation of the college paved the way for significant growth and consolidation of Churches of Christ in the decades that followed.

Maston noted in his book’s introduction:

“It occurred to me… that a splendid opportunity presented itself of gathering together the great leading facts of our movement and placing them in this permanent form, first of all as a matter of record; secondly, for theencouragement of those who at the present are engaged in the stupendous effort of calling the world’s attention to the simple plea of New Testament Christianity; and lastly, because of the unifying power of such a book among those who are engaged in this great work. I have frequently indulged in the fond hope that this book might serve the useful purpose of bringing closer together all the loose ends of our influence in this new land of ours.”

I don’t what the fruit of Selfie Sunday will be. But I do hope your church will take part in this act of collective witness. Who knows what God might do in and through us as a result?

Visit the official Selfie Sunday Website for more information

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