Northwest Rising to the Challenge

The Synod Mission Resource Fund is helping congregations to work together to reach people in new and developing areas.

As the housing boom in the Northwest Sector of Sydney continues, the enormous challenge of reaching new residents and having a visible and relevant presence in new housing estates escalates.

There are 13 congregations in the Hawkesbury-Hills Zone of the Parramatta- Nepean Presbytery. Each congregation has its own unique identity and they work together in mission to have greater impact in this developing region.

Many of the recent initiatives have been facilitated by Suzi Hopman, Community Development Pastor employed by Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery with funds from the Synod Mission Resource Fund.

Congregations within the zone joined together to host a welcome barbecue held for residents of one of the new housing estates. More than 300 families enjoyed a free sausage sizzle, jumping castle, face painting and craft activities. Welcome packs with information about the area including church activities and contacts were distributed. The event received front page coverage in the local newspaper.

Approximately 500 people came along to an outdoor family movie screening held at Stanhope Gardens. Food stalls and a great band that performed before the movie created an electric atmosphere. Local businesses covered all costs for the event and many connections with the new community were made.

Volunteers at these events were identifiable by Uniting Church caps and many conversations about faith and life continue to flow from connections established.
Such events are a practical demonstration that people in the Uniting Church are an approachable, loving, giving part of their new community.

What’s planned for 2012? A mobile toy library in a bus, a massive Easter egg hunt, more welcome barbecues and a short film festival for youth. At least 1,000 entries for the film festival are expected and corporate sponsorship will be sought for screening, production and major prizes.

Congregations within geographical zones are discovering how working together to reach new and developing suburbs can be very rewarding.

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