Williamtown’s gracious act of closing down its congregation and providing funds to Karuah is a great example of “loving your neighbour”, found in the Port Stephens area of NSW, Australia.
When the Williamtown Church was hit by an out of control driver, substantially damaging the building, people wondered what the future might be.
There were only a few members in an area that could not grow because of noise problems from the nearby RAAF Base.
However, the graciousness of the Williamtown congregation and the forward thinking of the Grahamstown Church Council turned a disaster into a blessing.
Williamtown congregation recognised that it had no viable future and chose to use its resource to enable new work in nearby Karuah.
Karuah Uniting Church had been struggling for years with growing children’s and youth works but without the facilities to enable that work to go forward.
The result was that about half of the funds needed to expand Karuah’s complex was made available by closing Williamtown.
A forward thinking presbytery then provided a substantial grant to cover most of the shortfall. By mid 2011 the building was underway. It opened in November 2011.
The vision had always been there. The plans had been in place for years. But it was when the Williamtown Congregation, the Grahamstown Church Council, the Hunter Presbytery and the SMRF Committee (in exempting the project from the tithe on sales proceeds) all signed on to the same vision that it all came together.
Karuah now provides children’s ministry to a wide cross-section of its community. Only a few of those who attend each week come from church-connected families.
The church has found that with encouragement and some very practical help, even a small country congregation can take up real mission-oriented work. It’s not easy, and it is certainly risky, and it involves real sacrifice, but God is at work in a powerful way in Karuah.
The Synod Mission Resource Fund would like to encourage other congregations to be generous with the blessings of buildings from the past. If your congregation is in a position like Williamtown maybe there are other projects that you could enable to happen? NREMA grants allow congregations who hold Sales Proceeds monies to share them with other congregations to enable mission to happen.