In this week's reflection, Linda Sutton sees Matthew 15:10-28 as a challenge to look past differences and love one another.
From strength to strength: 40 years at Seeds
Posted in Faith
Later this week, Seeds Uniting Church will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Established only a little over a month before the Uniting Church in Australia was formed in June 1977, Seeds (formerly Aberfoyle Uniting Church) has a long history of ministry and community.
Today, Seeds is one of the largest Uniting Church congregations in Australia. While they have many building projects on the horizon, they remain most interested in building connections with individuals and the wider community. The church’s members passionately pursue opportunities to share the good news of Christ in all of the communities they serve.
The Seeds community will celebrate their history and future ministry at all three of their usual services on Sunday 7 May – at 9am, 10.45am and 6pm. Each service will include surprises and special guests. All are invited to attend, celebrate and share their own recollections of the congregation’s ministry.
In the lead up to their 40th anniversary, Seeds and New Times online have compiled some of the significant developments in the life of the church, grouping them under the names of the faithful ministers and senior pastors who have led Seeds through their journey thus far.
1977 to 1978: Richard Miller
In 1977, Blackwood Parish felt called to establish a new congregation at Flagstaff Hill and began exploring options for ministry in this area. The new church met for their first service at Flagstaff Hill Kindergarten on Sunday 1 May, 1977. They later moved to Flagstaff Hill Primary School, and purchased a manse and meeting room. Student minister Richard Miller led the emerging faith community during this period.
Average attendance: 30 people
1978 to 1982: Arthur Jackson
Rev Arthur Jackson took on the role of minister in 1978, and by the early 80s the congregation was beginning to grow. Pilgrim School was built in 1982, and additional services began to be held at Aberfoyle Park Primary School during October that year.
Average attendance: 60 people
1983 to 1989: Neal Michael
Rev Neal Michael was the next person to lead the congregation, which continued to grow significantly. In 1984, the church’s hub site was established, and in 1986 the congregation joined with the Coromandel Valley, Cherry Gardens and Ironbank Uniting Churches to form the Southern Hills Parish. In 1987, church attendance had grow to over 180 people across two Sunday services – 8.30am at Flagstaff Hill and 10am at Aberfoyle Park.
Average attendance: 185 people (1987)
1990 to 2008: Graham Humphris
Rev Dr Graham Humphris took the helm in 1990, and the Uniting Church purchased the congregation’s current site (42 Sunnymeade Drive, Aberfoyle Park). In 1991, the hub site and meeting room were sold and worship began to be held at the church’s new location. The congregation became Aberfoyle Uniting Church in 1994.
By 1996, the congregation recognised that their church building was not large enough. Plans were drawn up to build a front office, crèche and storeroom, and an extension to the foyer and hall. The church established the Time to Grow Building Fund and raised $245,000 to make these changes, in addition to rebuilding the carpark. Building began in 1997.
In 2003, the house next door to the church was purchased to be used for staff offices and meeting rooms.
In 2004, the church began holding Saturday night services.
In 2005, the congregation planted a second church at Seaford, which was led by Rev Brant Jones. This church plant would later become Seeds South and move to Noarlunga Downs Primary School in 2013. In August 2015, this congregation took on a new identity and direction under the name ConneXions Uniting Church.
Average attendance: 365 people (Sundays, 1992), 525 people (1997), 635 people (2002)
2008 to 2010: Craig Bailey
Craig Bailey provided leadership for the congregation from 2008 to mid-2010, and oversaw the purchase of the Community Centre at 56 Sunnymeade Drive, Aberfoyle Park. This continued to be a time of significant growth for the church.
Average attendance: 841 people
2010 to 2013: Phil Pynor
From 2010-2011, Aberfoyle Uniting Church embarked on a 12 month period of discernment, which led to a new vision and a change of name to Seeds Uniting Church under the leadership of Rev Phil Pynor. In 2012, the Saturday night services ended.
Average attendance: 874 people
2014: Roger Brook
Interim Minister Rev Roger Brook led the Seeds congregation in 2014, during which time they sold the Community Centre at 52 Sunnymeade Drive.
Average attendance: 874 people
2015 to present: Jonathan Davies
Rev Dr Jonathan Davies began leading the congregation in 2015 and remains the senior minister today. Sunday night services also began to be held in 2015.
Last year, Seeds launched their “IT’S TIME” building project. This major redevelopment has been triggered by continued growth in the church and its community ministries.
The current stage of the project, which is due for completion by Christmas 2017, will provide new activity and play space areas, a community café, kitchen, toilets, offices, Men’s Shed and a business storage facility for their NU4U initiative. Another stage will complete their redevelopment plan at a later date.
Average attendance: 812 people (2015), 860 people (2016)
This article has only touched on the long history of the Aberfoyle Park congregation – there are so many personal stories that we’re sure could be shared by the ministers, leaders and members who have been nurtured by the congregation.
If you would like to share your story, please do so in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Seeds Uniting Church and their current redevelopment project, please visit their website here.
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