So…what do some of our churches do?
Here is a set of reports about this from some societies. The main idea is that they do something. It may not or cannot be big, but it contributes in some way to the world or neighbourhood around them or to specific people or institutions aiming to care.
The New Church in Canberra raises funds for Family Support Services
Earlier this year, the Canberra committee decided to run a fundraiser for local charity, Marymead, which provides services to disadvantaged children and young people in and around Canberra. Marymead is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, and has become a well respected part of life in the capital in that time. Marymead provides short term crisis accommodation, running educational courses (on anger management, and the effects of divorce on children, for example), assisting children coming to terms with divorce, providing training for disabled young people, and respite for carers.
So, on Saturday 12 November, we ran a community breakfast fundraiser at Corroboree Park, in Ainslie (where we regularly meet for services), to provide gifts for the Kids Companions Christmas Party. Our morning proved to be a fun opportunity to work together. We enjoyed each other’s company, and a number of our friends and families dropped by while we cooked and chatted. Although we did not welcome the number of visitors we hoped to, we did raise almost $300, along with other donations made by individual members.
As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the effort we put into advertising – leaflet drops in the local houses and businesses, community noticeboard, Facebook and community internet pages, a radio interview on the morning of the breakfast – yielded more publicity than many of our previous, more expensive attempts. We witnessed a steady stream of visits to our Facebook page, for example, over the month or so before the breakfast.
The wider community expects churches to be involved in this kind of activity, and while many view churches with some suspicion when it comes to theology, there is a greater openness to its work supporting the less fortunate. And there’s no doubt that it does us the world of good to step out of our own concerns every once in a while.
From Brisbane and South East Queensland
I wasn’t quite sure how we could answer this call from David Moffat for the next edition of The New Age, other than to say that the goods collected for our Christmas Donation were for many years up until this year donated to the needy tenants of the house next door to the Agars Street church. However, as those tenants have now all moved on elsewhere because the house has been demolished, at our October AGM we decided that our Christmas offertory would go toward supporting the Loving Arms Mission in Nepal.
We are a widely scattered congregation and most of us only meet up once a month, plus being in rented space that has no street frontage and within the grounds of another church community, raising funds through food stalls/stands is not possible for us as a community. However, that does not mean that on an individual basis we cannot exercise our charity. For instance:
For the past 18 months I have been giving a lift to a young woman who lives nearby and attends the same art class as I do. Without going into too much detail, she suffers from mental depression and lives with her partner who also has many mental challenges. When I reflect on this situation I realise that it was natural charity that prompted my offer of a lift, (“it would be a good thing to do to give her a lift as I live close by,”) and then as the months passed I learnt more about the situation in which my friend finds herself. As time progressed and I thought about her situation it made me think about how much I would appreciate the help and friendship of someone if the roles were reversed. It doesn’t take much effort to go that little bit out of the way to help another person, whether it be physically or mentally…in this case giving a lift to someone and from time to time having a coffee afterwards or lunch or going shopping or just spending the time to listen to another’s story. Most of the time we just need a sounding block so we can hear ourselves at a slight remove rather than listening to the repetition of thoughts that go on and on in our heads without resolve!! If I can do it for one, in different ways I can do it for others and whether I do it for love to the Lord or love of the neighbour or indeed self or the world, I hope I know, but really only the Lord knows, so do it anyway.
Another person in our community has set up a You Tube channel called Urban Hobby Farm to help interested people grow their own fruit and vegetables or keep chickens in their gardens, however large or small, and in the process for every ‘like’ he is donating a $1 to the Brisbane Society for various causes. It’s a wonderful idea and the spin off of helping himself, other interested people, and the church in one fell swoop is fantastic. Even if you aren’t very green thumbed, have a look at the site and ‘Like’ it.
Others are doing volunteer work in hospitals and schools which is a great way of helping those in need, especially if you have been involved either personally or with loved ones in the area in which you are volunteering.
So here are three ways I know of where members of our community exercise charity, perhaps there are more that I haven’t heard of. It’s a start!
In Sydney, the church has been offering its premises for many years to the local community for Pilates, Ballet, Alcoholics Anonymous, Music recitals and a practice studio for some Corporate Entertainment performers. This has helped make the church fairly widely-known in the local area.
We are a drop-off point for Exodus Foundation run by Rev Bill Crews and church attendees have for the most part got into the habit of bringing a couple of cans or packets each time. Our ample Harvest produce, often 15 boxes, goes to the Mission Australia Crisis Centre in Surry Hills who say Thanks, now we can spend the money we’d have spent on that on other things. At Christmas we take great toys given by church people and also people using our premises, to the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal.
We support, via PLAN, a young girl in India who is our third sponsor person. We also regularly send stamps to the Leprosy Mission. And from the church we have financially helped many charities but have had to watch that as the word goes around. We invite people to donate at two services for the Loving Arms Mission and so does our Friendship Group, for their funds.
Individual people do things like driving for the Leukemia Foundation and helping their street neighbours, which is all included in what the church and its people can practically contribute to the needs of others.
Although small in number we in Perth are currently involved in three community projects. The first being the provision of three teams of people to go on the Red Cross Soup Patrol Roster. This involves collecting a vehicle from Red Cross Headquarters, picking up urns of soup from a local hospital, and taking them to several contact points. At each point needy folk (mostly homeless) meet at a predetermined time each night to receive the soup and bread, often fruit and other items are also available. Whatever is given out has been donated by various businesses around the Perth Metro Area.
Following the giving out of the last cup of soup the volunteers need to return the vehicle to headquarters and clean up the utensils used to distribute the soup. This means a commitment of around four to five hours each shift. We rostered once a month.
Our second project is an annual one where we provide commodities for homeless women through St Bartholomew’s Hostel. All members contribute by purchasing the goods such toiletries, small items of clothing, and food. These goods are collected over a number of weeks leading up to our end of year celebrations. Members then deliver the goods collected to the hostel in East Perth, an inner city suburb.
The third project is a much smaller one where we sponsor two seats for disabled people at the baseball here in Perth; each seat has an acknowledgement that it is “sponsored by the New Church in Perth”.
What do we get from these projects? Well the main benefit is getting our name into the public arena, and above all the Soup Patrol is giving younger folk a sense of doing something worthwhile for the wider community, hence they want to be involved.