New Connections

October 4, 2014

In the past few months the Church Council has been considering a number of proposals about the use of our Church facilities to serve our community.

We have continued conversations with the Brisbane City Council about their initiative to reduce the number of vans feeding homeless people on the streets by facilitating more community meals. The Council has identified our hall as a very suitable location for establishing a Community Meal. Last week I had conversations with the Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk, who outlined his desire to provide more effective support for those who live on our streets and help them move beyond their current circumstances. He believes that building a supportive community will assist this transition.

We have also been in conversation with Wesley Mission Brisbane who have, for many years, provided a Community Meal in Fortitude Valley. They are interested in partnering with us in offering a similar service at St Andrew’s.

On Sunday 26th October  we will hold a Congregational Meeting to discuss these ideas and seek your wisdom about this possibility. We know that there are many issues that will need to be addressed if this mission is to become a reality. Please prayer about this opportunity to serve our community in the name of Christ.

The Big Issue magazine is a fortnightly, independent magazine that is sold on the streets by homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people. It not only provides opportunities for people to earn an income, but importantly, to build confidence and their capacity to help themselves. The people they help come from a range of backgrounds including mental illness, homelessness, long-term unemployment, intellectual and physical disability and drug and alcohol dependency.

They have had to vacate their premises in South Brisbane and have approached us about offering office space from which to serve their clients. The Church Council has agreed to rent the office that I have been using and I will move upstairs to the Minister’s vestry. This will happen over the next couple of weeks. The Church Council saw this as another opportunity of  our congregation developing community partnerships that serve the wider community. I hope that this will be a fruitful relationship for us and The Big Issue.

On Thursday 11th September Heather and I will fly out of Brisbane to attend a Uniting Church Ministers Conference in Jerusalem. We will undertake a two tour of Jordan and Israel before spending a week in Jerusalem itself. I have never been to the Middle East before and am looking forward to visiting place that I have read about in the Bible for many years.

Those who have been to these places tell me that it has enriched their understanding of our Christian faith, allowing them to have a clearer picture when they read the biblical stories.

Heather and I have been somewhat hesitant as we have listened to the recent news of open warfare between Israel and Gaza, but have been assured by the President of the UCA Assembly, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney that the advice they have obtained from those in Israel and Palestine that we will be perfectly safe. He has been assured that Christians, Jews and Muslims are looking forward to meeting us.

I will try to write some reflections on our experiences that can be shared through the News and Notes while I am away.

It seems that there are a number of people from St Andrew’s undertaking overseas travel in the next couple of months. To all of you, I trust that you will have joyful and enriching experiences and we will look forward to hearing of your adventures on your return.