This week, several members of the Church Council spoke about their ideas for the future. Here is the introduction from Jon Freeman (Chair of Council) and a dream for 2030 from Susan Brodersen.
You may have picked up on the theme of yeast that has been ‘sprinkled’ through our services over the past few weeks. John Emmett spoke to us about the subversive act of a woman hiding the yeast in the flour – calling us to refuse to accept the status quo of injustice. Gordon followed this up with his talk about what activates us? Lin issued a call to be active and compassionate in our service to the marginalised people in our community. Last week Stewy challenged us to consider ourselves as a unique part of a much bigger picture, all pieces of a much bigger puzzle, and how the work of God is not just in your own piece, but in participating in puzzling and the bigger picture that this makes.
Today, we are talking about how the future could be for us as a community. This comes off the back of the recently released Council discernment document. I won’t take you through the document word by word, but I’d like to explore with you what I think it means for us.
As the document states:
we live our life in relationship with others. We are communal beings. Our relationships, groups, and communities look as diverse as the people in them. They serve different purposes, they exist for different lengths of time. They have different levels of formality and organisation.
This notion of trying to describe ourselves, and explain how we work, occupies a good deal of energy for us. We try to organise ourselves with formal structures, logos and branding, committees and reporting lines, but they don’t truly represent the depth or breadth of what we are and do. They give us a sense of organisation and formality that we need, however they may also serve to limit who we could be, if we see this ‘organisation’ as the end result rather than the means by which we can fulfill our mission.
The lectionary passage for this week, Matthew 16:13-20, recounts Jesus challenging his disciples:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
When Jesus was telling his disciples where he saw the future of the church, he didn’t point at a building, or a website, or an annual report. He didn’t lay out a site plan, an organisation structure or a strategic plan. He said you, Peter, are the rock on which I will build my church. Powerful stuff.
Quite intentionally, the Council’s discernment does not lay out a road-map for us. It’s not what the discernment is there for. It is there to guide us as to what kind of community God wants us to be. And a clear message from the discernment document is that we, the people, are the Church. More than this, God has spoken, through the Council, and is compelling us to be influential.
Influential could be standing up to a bully at school or work.
Influential could be caring for somebody who is alone.
Influential could be teaching somebody some English.
Influential could be playing some Music.
As we dream about our future together, dream about the influence we can have in furthering God’s kingdom. We are blessed. We are the rock on which Jesus wants to build our Church.
A Morning at Kippax Uniting Church in 2030
Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the image we believe will guide Kippax over the next part of our church’s life. It is an image of God’s kingdom being like yeast that someone works into the dough, and then waits while the dough rises.
Today, we are talking about how the future could look for us as a community.
Now, I don’t know what the future holds for Kippax Uniting Church, but I am aware of many ways that we as a community of faith are metaphorically working the yeast through the dough and so I want to share with you some of my interpretations of how I believe the dough is rising and will continue to rise in the future. The story I am going to tell you is extrapolated from actual events that have happened here at Kippax.
I want you to imagine that we are visiting Kippax Uniting Church on a weekday morning, one summer day in the year 2030. There will have been some additions to our buildings since then!
Holt is no longer on the outer edge of Belconnen. It is the hub of the west Belconnen region. The Riverview development started about 15 years ago and is now about halfway through providing an additional 11,500 homes in the area. When the development is complete there will have been 30,000 people added to the population in this area. It is a fairly attractive place to live, with plenty of parks and open spaces. The congregation of Kippax Uniting Church now includes many people who live in this area. Kippax has also been involved in building community in the area and provides a variety of services to people throughout this wider west Belconnen area.
To cope with this massive increase in population, Kippax Fair and the area around it, has grown substantially. For the 8.30 crowd, there are plenty of good coffee shops to choose from. Just as the population has grown, the number of people who come through the doors here at Kippax each day has also grown.
The Kippax Community Garden project has grown and is thriving. Our volunteers now support the involvement of hundreds of people in community gardens in five different locations in West Belconnen. The project is coordinated by John – a man who had no previous contact with Kippax until he brought his dog along to a’ Blessing of the Animals’ service. He saw our small community garden and with his help the project has expanded.
And of course, there is Max, a computer services technician who runs his own company. Today he is working to upgrade the ICT system at Kippax. Max has fond memories of Kippax. When he was a child he used to come to Holiday Happenings at Kippax. He loved all the activities, but he was absolutely thrilled when he was allowed to pull some old computers apart and look at what was inside. Max had been struggling at school up until then, but these pieces of computer hardware that he took home sparked his interest in computers and he developed a passion for all things electronic from there.
Amy is our friendly receptionist. She lives in the area and loves coming to Kippax garage sales. In fact, it was these positive experiences of the Kippax community that made her apply for the job at Kippax when it came up.
Mina is helping her mother with sorting gifts for the Christmas Gift Appeal. Mina’s parents spoke no English when they arrived in Australia, but through the English Language Group at Kippax they not only learnt to speak English, but they developed a network of friends in the area. Helping with the Gift Appeal is one way that Mina and her mother can give back to the Kippax Community for the help they received here.
Kippax Kids are still thriving after all these years. These days many of the parents who bring their children to playgroup, actually came to Kippax playgroups when they were children.
The line dancers are still meeting in the hall on Monday mornings. They enjoy the sense of community they feel, mixing with so many other groups in the foyer afterwards.
Newpin continues to break destructive cycles within family relationships by developing self –esteem in parents and children. One of our early clients, Nancy, used to come to NEWPIN as a toddler with her mother. Nancy now works as a barista in a café in the city, but on Mondays, her day off, she volunteers to come to Kippax and make coffee for the people in the foyer.
Our monthly weekday worship services are popular with many of our ‘weekday congregation’. We have a variety of ages and backgrounds attending this relaxed, friendly service and each month there is also an interesting speaker.
Today at our monthly service, Grace will be the guest speaker. Grace grew up as a member of the Kippax congregation and regularly came to church with her family. In Sunday Club she learnt a lot about the work that the Uniting Church does throughout the world. During one session she learnt about how many women and children in Africa do not get the opportunity to go to school, because they spend up to nine hours per day collecting water and carrying it back to their villages. There is also significant sickness and disease associated without not having adequate sanitation, like toilets that are separate from drinking water. Grace also remembers the money her Sunday Club group would collect each week, and at the end of the year they would choose what they would buy from the TEAR catalogue. Items like school supplies or a goat or a toilet.
Grace is now a civil engineer working to construct water wells in rural Africa to bring clean, safe water to those who need it. She has come back to Kippax today to talk about the work that she does and the health improvements that can be seen in people who are no longer forced to drink water teeming with bacteria and parasites. She will also speak about the education improvements for women and girls now that they no longer spend hours each day walking to get water.
This is just a snapshot of some of the ways that the Kippax Community is being yeast in the dough and impacting the community for many years into the future. I have based my story on some of the examples that I know about, but I am sure that you know of many more ways that our community of faith is building God’s kingdom and will continue to do so.
On behalf of the Church Council, I thank you for the work that you are doing being the yeast in the dough.