Parishes, schools and agencies

Christ Church Essendon explores creative ways to raise money for mission

Stories of urban ministryChrist Church Essendon has made some creative decisions that have helped it reach out to the local community.

By John Mathes

October 26 2016Mission is doing everything we can that leads us to know, love and enjoy God — to love God and our neighbours, or in the words of the diocesan vision, “To Make the Word of God fully known”. A mission shaped church is prepared to explore doing church differently while maintaining our core historic congregations. Messy Church, for example, is seen as a fresh expression of church and part of us being mission shaped. Parishes including my own need to continue exploring what it means to be mission shaped.

Blessing of new town houses at Christ Church Essendon. From left, Fr John Mathes, Archbishop Philip Freier, and parishioners Bill Howard, Margaret Elsey, Alan Wilson and Jillian Webb.

One of the problems many churches have is remaining financially viable. Many churches survive because a lot of energy and effort is put into fundraising. Fetes, dinners, raffles and other fundraising activities cause many churches to be inward-looking and they struggle desperately to survive. They have no energy for mission and reaching out to others, and they struggle to raise money to pay their priest.

Christ Church Essendon financially survives with the help of our collection plate, a small amount of hiring out of our hall, and a very successful op shop. While we do not have much money to spare, we are able to pay our bills and priest and maintain our church.

We have recently made some significant mission shaping decisions. The church had two tennis courts that had not been used for over ten years, and a hall that was full of asbestos and rising damp and needed a lot of maintenance. A kinder on the site had closed eight years ago.

The old kinder room has now been modernised with new kitchen and storage rooms and has become our new parish hall. The tennis courts have been sold and the money used to remove the asbestos and demolish the hall. A developer built eight town houses on the site of the tennis court and the parish had the developer and builder build three town houses of similar design on the hall site. The parish now rents the three town houses. Instead of using the rent to go into general funds, we have decided to use it for mission.

We are currently advertising for a Children & Family Minister for 25 hours a week to complement our Messy Church and Kidz Church program. We are looking for a person with a love of God and people, who is secure in their identity in Christ, and in their gifts and abilities. The person we appoint will be responsible for extending the care and love of the Parish to children and families and will help churched and un-churched children and their parents/carers to enter into a life affirming journey of discipleship with Christ.

We are excited about this.

Parishes need to explore ways of being financial without having to fundraise heavily so that they can do mission.

The Revd Fr John Mathes SSC is vicar of Christ Church Essendon.

This story has been shared as part of Melbourne Bishop Genieve Blackwell's call to parishes in the Marmingatha Episcopate to share their stories of urban ministry. To find out how your parish can get involved, click here.