Parishes, schools and agencies

Stories of urban ministry: Telling the stories of God at work in the Marmingatha Episcopate

Melbourne Bishop Genieve Blackwell is appealing to parishes in the Marmingatha Episcopate to share their stories of urban ministry. Read on for how your parish can get involved.

By Genieve Blackwell

August 4 2016Population density and cultural / demographic changes were the top two issues identified across the deaneries at the recent Marmingatha episcopate ministry conference. The key question we asked across the deaneries was: how do we connect with a changing community?

The conference was an opportunity for clergy and authorised ministers to gather in deaneries and answer three questions around the opportunities and challenges of urban redevelopment:

  • What are the issues?
  • What are the questions to ask?
  • What are the resources / gaps?

Here are some of their answers (click on an image to enlarge it):

From discos to markets - making new connections with the local community

August 4 2016Popular market at St John's Bentleigh

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Port Philip and Stonnington Deanery


Whitehorse Deanery


Camberwell Deanery

Glen Eira Deanery


Coburg Deanery

Melbourne Deanery


The population of Melbourne is projected to reach eight million in 2050. This will be in part due to growth corridors on the fringes of the city. It will also be through urban redevelopment.

The challenge and opportunity for the Marmingatha episcopate is: how do we make the word of God fully known in the context of urban redevelopment? The names of the three episcopates comprising the parishes of the diocese of Melbourne — Marmingatha (divine, supreme being), Jumbunna (Proclamation) and Oodthenong (gathering) — are names given in consultation with the elders of the Wurundjeri tribe to the three episcopates. Together they convey the Diocesan vision to make the Word of God fully known.

Issues in the Marmingatha episcopate include:

  • more people living in apartments, units, housing developments or tower blocks
  • cultural / demographic changes seen in socio-economic and ethnic trends; transient populations
  • a post-Christian mindset and the changing nature of Sunday and family.

Other issues we identified are:

  • needs being met outside locality
  • the difficulty of accessing apartments
  • connecting with state schools now we are not able to teach Scripture
  • loneliness and lack of community
  • community facilities and space
  • money and related family issues.

More questions unpack the key question How do we connect with a changing community?:

  • What are the communities we are ministering to?
  • Where do people gather or find community?
  • How do we let people know we care?
  • How do we build community and ministry to people living in high rise apartments?
  • What do we have to rethink as a church?

I want to hear your stories! God is at work today in our diocese and this is where we will begin to find answers to the challenges and the questions. So what are the stories of grace? What are your stories of God at work? This website will be a space for sharing these stories. It will be a space for encouragement, a space for inspiration and a space for learning.

Send me your stories - 500 words or less plus picture:

  • stories of how your parish, authorised congregation or chaplaincy is already connecting
  • stories of the journey you are on as the people of God
  • stories which tell the conversations you are having
  • stories of what you are trying together
  • stories of the lessons you are learning.

Read some of these stories of urban ministry by clicking the links below.

Send your stories and photos to Bishop Genieve Blackwell at