A recent article based on result from an Ipsos Poll reported that two out of three Australians think that religion does more harm than good. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney explores the results of this poll and the role of the church in Australia.
Gearing up for regeneration at Grange
Posted in Culture
In recent months, Grange Uniting Church has begun to seriously consider how they will continue to serve and act as a witness in their local community. Inspired by the recent discussion of church planting and the new Generate 2021 church plant initiative, the congregation feels led to a regeneration process.
Minister Rev Mark Boyce spoke about what’s happening at Grange for a video shown at the June Presbytery and Synod meeting (the video is available online here), which has been transcribed and edited for New Times online.
We would regularly get anywhere up to 40 people on a regular basis here attending at Grange [Uniting Church] in Sunday morning worship.
We have a few programs that we’re running… [There’s] Tuesdays at Grange, which is a drop in, and people would come and be involved in that - it’s open to the community.
We run our op shop, and again, that’s quite exciting because we’re seeing people dropping for chats and for coffee. It’s just really great.
We also have our Chat and Patch group, and they’re a lovely bunch of people. They say to me, “Mark, I can’t go to church on Sundays but I’m at church here on a Wednesday.” And we have our Scrabble group, and again lovely bunch of people. They come play Scrabble – and they do play Scrabble, and it’s very intent – but for them it’s a social group and it’s a support group for a lot of people.
The other beautiful thing about our community here is that we’re willing to share our community space. We have a netball team here with 28 teams. We have lots of other community groups using our hall, and it’s their space to be able to do things. We have this kind of lovely community here where we’re willing to be open and share our resources with people in the [wider] community. So it’s great.
When I first got here I realised that the [Grange church] community was fairly well burned out – they’d been trying to do lots of things and they were tired. As the leader, [I could see I needed to be] giving them space to sit and just be for six months. Since then we’ve just been doing the things we can do and doing them well. But we also realised that we’ve got to a point where we are getting older and we’re struggling to continue to do the things we want to do to reach out and be a witness to the community. We have seen people come through this community and come to faith, and it’s been beautiful to see that, but we realise that we’re at our limit.
[Since coming to this realisation,] we’ve been working on the idea of what we do as a community to continue to be a witness here at Grange. We looked at the regeneration stuff, [which] is important for us. [Regeneration] will give us the opportunity to continue to honour the heritage that we have here – I think this year we’re doing 110 years of our anniversary – and also honour the fact that we want to remain to be a faithful community that can witness to our community.
We really want to look at the regeneration stuff and be able to have people come and work alongside us - to develop kind of another worshipping congregation or perhaps take over and regenerate from within our congregation or even do something completely different. We’re open to those possibilities. We’ve been through this whole process now and over time we’ve been able to get to a point where we, as a community, have said, “Yes, this is where we want to go”.
We’re going to do a profile, and we’ll look at the people and needs in the area. We’re also going to re-do and re-vamp our vision statement so it reflects the direction we’re wanting to go. It’ll involve more meetings about where do we want to go from here and how do we do this.
The next step is finding the people we need in order to make this happen – [we need] people who can come and lead with us and hear what God is saying to us.
Grange is ideally suited here – we have a huge amount of foot traffic go past our place and such a high usage of the hall. We’ve got lots of opportunity for people to hear about it and to get involved in the message of the Gospel. Regeneration for us is important.
Read more about church planting in the article here.
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