Connections and community at St Augustine's Moreland
STORIES OF URBAN MINISTRYThe edgy graffiti sprawling across the front of the building suggests that something new is going on here. The chalk board sign is hand-painted and invites the community to come along to the 10am Sunday service. It makes passers-by wonder what church looks like now.
By Jenny Sonneman
October 29 2018
In 2017, a generous bequest and a renewed mission focus gave a great deal of encouragement to St Augustine’s Moreland, a small church on bustling Sydney Road, and its then newly-appointed children and families minister the Revd Angela Cook.
At the time, there were about 30 people gathering every week for worship, a third of them young children. A mainly music program had been running for a few years and was still very popular with local families. The passion of the church was to keep providing a church service where children were included and to connect more with the local residents. Traditionally the area was home to many Arabic, Greek and Italian speaking families, but that was changing, with more young English-speaking families moving in.
Now, Angela is the priest-in-charge, and the Sunday service sees around 50 people gather. To complement the mainly music ministry and to reach out with a really useful way of helping families, Angela now runs “Turning into Kids” courses. This six-week course has been advertised at the local child and maternal health centre and nearby child care centres.
In first term, eight people came, with similar numbers in term three. The participants were a mixture of mums and dads from the church and local community.
Esther Bird, a children's song writer from St Augustine's.
In the term one course, a mother from the mainly music program came along. She really enjoyed the course, saying she had noticed a huge improvement in her relationship with her children since attending. She continues to be actively involved in mainly music, and brought her family to church at Easter.
In term three, a mother saw the sign for the course at her child care centre, and she and her husband joined. It turned out that she knew one of the families from St Augustine’s through her sister, who went to university with them. The connections helped her feel comfortable and trusting about the programs.
Angela says, “It’s wonderful to see connections with local families increasing! I am so thankful for the gifts of those at St Augustine’s and the way they are keen to see connections with Jesus built in the community.”
To keep people engaged, mainly music has regular dessert nights and craft mornings, and in June held a concert. Esther Bird, a member of the church who writes children’s songs, performed in the church one afternoon, with 75 people in the very excited audience.
St Augustine’s is in its first year of the Diocesan Pathways program, and has received a grant from GFS to employ a children’s worker part time. The parish is moving ahead with purpose and can see that God has some great work for it to do in the heart of Moreland.