6 December 2022
A country church that was shuttered in 1999 because of low numbers is set for a rebirth amid a residential boom and a modernised approach.
St Paul’s North Clyde will return to what was, at the turn of the century, a small farming community with little more than 1000 residents, but is now a major growth suburb with a population of more than 40,000.
Set to be commissioned as priest-in-charge when the church opens on 5 February 2023, the Reverend Reece Kelly said the initial St Paul’s had held reduced services for 15 to 20 worshippers before it was closed.
Mr Kelly said it would be re-branded as Proclaim Anglican Church and would meet every Sunday in a new local community centre with room to hold 100 people and additional space for a Sunday school.
He said the church’s launch team had been searching for a place in the Clyde North area for two years, and felt blessed to have found the space after facing several challenges, with financing concerns topping the list.
Their prayers had been answered when an anonymous donation covering three years of funding resulted in the Diocese of Melbourne approving the ministry presence of St Paul’s in Clyde North, he said.
In addition, a Berwick Anglican parishioner had donated musical equipment so that the church would be able to sing songs of praise from its first meeting.
But Mr Kelly said church plants in the suburb experienced considerable operational limitations from several sources, including public schools and the local council.
That included having to start family services at 9.00am in an area where families tended to not be around at that time on a Sunday morning, he said.
He suspected that similar pressures had led to other denominations moving out of the neighbourhood.
“So, there’s spiritual opposition out here, which to me and the team, shows that this is an area where there is an even further need to present the gospel, because it being pushed away,” Mr Kelly said.
He said that the reason they had settled on St Paul’s as the name, was so that any people who remembered the original old country church would find it was now a new church.
“We want to make the point that the visible church may have disappeared, but the gospel has never left. It’s coming back. We’re rebranding it Proclaim Anglican Church which is inspired by Colossians 1:28. And we are desiring to be a big presence,” Mr Kelly said.
“Part of the history of Clyde North is that there once was an old Anglican church here. Now, by the grace of God, the Anglican church is coming back.”
He said more than 60 people, including the 40-person launch team, had attended a soft launch for the church in late November despite it not being advertised. “So it shows that there’s interest from people who live in Clyde North to actually want a church here.”
Mr Kelly also said there would be second soft launch with a Christmas service on Sunday 11 December.