Creating partnerships takes time and imagination. That has certainly been the experience of the Lanyon Valley Parish in the southern tip of Tuggeranong. The Parish has been imagining, along with Anglicare staff, about how a presence of mercy might emerge in the Gordon Community Centre – but it’s taken time and care.
‘I think of it like housemates deciding to rent a house together’, explains Rector, Jonathan Holt. ‘Our parish has no property, so all our disciple-making and mercy-ministry has found homes in community spaces and lounge rooms. But this new partnership with Anglicare presents us with the opportunity to do something we would find hard on our own.’
The partnership involves shared spaces, available for community groups, some of which are facilitated by Anglicare and others by the parish. Care was taken to frame a Memorandum of Understanding between the Parish and Anglicare, designed to carry the weight of steering the partners through significant disagreements.
‘We don’t expect things to go horribly wrong, but when Paul urges believers to bear with one another and forgive one another, that’s a signal that frail and sinful people need to be ready to repair when things go wrong’, said Jonathan. ‘We’ve taken time at the very beginning of our partnership to establish strong relationships between our Parish and Anglicare, so that, under God, the flourishing of Gordon Community Centre is our clear, shared purpose.’
Two parts of the existing Parish activity were ready to move into the facility. The congregation that meets at 4:30pm has found fresh vision for connecting people to Jesus through their gathering in the Community Centre. The emergency food service, Lanyon Pantry, was transformed from a delivery service accessed fortnightly, to having a presence in Gordon Community centre and being accessed daily. ‘We have a good relationship with the IGA across the carpark and have established a voucher system that enables people to get fresh fruit and vegetables when they access our service’, said Jonathan.
Other initiatives were developed ready to begin with the newly established partnership in Gordon Community Centre. Graham Simpson, who coordinates the English Conversation Classes, says, ‘Our partnership in the Gordon Community Centre has made our new English Conversation Class possible. We began in July with five regular
students. Our students are from three different countries. One lady is a Muslim and the others are from a Christian background’.
Nate, the two day-a-week Community Chaplain, explains, ‘My new role sees me on-site at the Community Centre. The goal is to link community resource with community need, confident that the God of all grace is at work in our service. We love Lanyon and I hope to show Christ-like, neighbourly love’.
Another new program is DivorceCare. This program is a weekly video-based support group for people who are separated or divorced. The thirteen-week program has almost finished its second cycle. The real stories shared on the video encourage open and honest sharing from participants. Participants testify to the power of being listened to and cared for.
‘It’s easy to list the things we have started, but in truth there has been lots of effort and imagination to get where we are today’, said Jonathan. ‘The things that grow healthy seem to grow slowly; it’s been important to take our time and trust God for how Gordon Community Centre might grow. Our partnership with Anglicare is hopefully going to have the same careful, slow and healthy growth.’
by Reverend Jonathan Holt