A story of local churches working together in Rural NSW taken from the Local Ecumenism Information Kit of the New South Wales Ecumenical Council

From a rural community in north­western NSW comes a good news story about churches working together. The Reverend Simon Waller, who ministers to both congregations, says that the feeling is that it’s a great thing. He writes:

We are pleased that we have the opportunity to help each other out. Even better, that Christian ministry has a chance to remain active in town.

Worshipping Together

Since June last year we’ve been holding service in the one building, which has made life a lot easier for all concerned but mostly for me (as the Vicar). We continued to use the format we’d adopted at that time and run two services a month of UCA style and two of Anglican.

It has taken the Anglicans a bit of time to appreciate the benefits of the less traditional style (and no book in their hand) and the UCA’s a bit of time to appreciate the values of the Prayer Book. Comments from both sides are on how it has made our community gatherings richer. I think it has certainly given me a lot more scope and freedom when we meet together. I can try new things and the people seem to appreciate it.

A New Identity

One of the added benefits of the process of change was that we could try a few different things. We have tried things that either or both past groups weren’t particularly used to, but I believe express why we meet better. We now have a lot more lay participation in the services and a greater cross-section of the community attending the meetings.

It’s a hard thing to get used to but we try not to talk about Uniting and Anglican any more. There are times when it’s necessary, but we are now St Barnabas Community Church and it just so happens that some of us were Anglican and some Uniting. It’s one of those things that we hope will slowly move into the background as we go forward. Everything we do and have done has been consolidated under that name, – a Parish Camp, Bible studies, market days, annual dinner, fair, etc.

Better Use of Buildings

We have a few ideas as to how we can use the UCA facilities that are just up the road from us. A lot of time and money has gone into the building there and we don’t want to see them go to ruin. We have a Community op) Shop and sometime in the future we plan to move it up there. The UCA church building will provide a cleaner, safer cooler (very important out here), more practical environment than our current shop (which was always going to be temporary). There are a few hurdles, such as council approval and potential issues within the Uniting Church Presbytery.

Confirming Commitment

Boggabri has been blessed with an informal co-operation between the churches for many years before my time. In one sense what has happened has been a natural process. It makes sense to consolidate our resources because we are committed to this town.

Where other Christian groups have come and gone, the Christians of these two congregations have stuck it out time and time again. They love their town and its people. It’s a great place to live and we want to see God’s Kingdom grow here.

We recommend that you visit the New South Wales Ecumenical Coumcil’s website at:

www.nswec.org.au