It seemed like a desperate plea – but it may just have got a result. Stu Cameron, the brand new CEO/Superintendent Minister for Sydney’s Wesley Mission, made a strong call a few weeks ago for the Uniting Church to release property to church planters, which Eternity then reported.
“Well, it has opened up some conversations,” Cameron tells Eternity. “We will see where they go.”
Setting up his his challenge, Cameron wrote: “Here’s my very practical suggestion, Property Trusts should NOT sell any redundant congregational asset unless a new missional initiative (in or outside the geographic area) is identified that can be directly linked to the property proceeds for the sale.
“If that condition cannot be met, we should invite churches, in particular church plants, OUTSIDE our denomination (Baptist, ACC, Churches of Christ etc) to express interest in its use on a long-term basis for a peppercorn lease of $1 per year, plus ongoing maintenance costs.”
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My UCA friends, there’s a real opportunity in front of us to live even deeper and further into our ecumenical vision
And the response? Cameron has written an update. “A couple of months ago I posted a two-part reflection on church planting in the Uniting Church (UCA). Since then I have responded to multiple emails and calls from leaders in other denominations and church planting movements desperately keen to explore partnerships with the Uniting Church, particularly around under-utilised, or surplus property assets.
“I’ve now had the opportunity to connect a number of these conversation partners with synod and presbytery leaders across four different states to explore those possibilities further. The Synod and presbytery leaders I’ve spoken with have been super-receptive.
My UCA friends, there’s a real opportunity in front of us to live even deeper and further into our ecumenical vision in profoundly rich and practical ways, should we choose – to see green shoots grow in unexpected places in unexpected ways. I’m really excited for the kingdom possibilities that lay ahead of us out of these conversations, alongside our own UCA sponsored church planting initiatives.
“The grace we may well be called into in the season ahead is to see church planting both IN – and THROUGH the Uniting Church.”
In the spirit of wanting to see church buildings used to God’s glory, Cameron has congratulated C3 Devonport, Tasmania in taking over an old uniting church in that town.
“On June 27, 2021 C3 Church Devonport held its first service in its new home, the old Uniting Church, the foundation stone of this church being laid on June 27, 1931 – 90 years to the date!” C3 posted.
“And 40 days after the commencement of the new works to update the site.”
The local paper, the Advocate reported in May that C3 had purchased the town’s Wesley church. “A beautiful old church in Devonport is being resurrected as a place of worship again. [Update: Eternity has been told that c3 Devonport did not purchse the church buildings from the UCA, but from somebody else who owned the building after the UCA sold it.]
“The former Wesley Uniting Church in Steele Street is undergoing an internal refurbishment before becoming home to the more modern worship habits that attract people to Australia’s thriving charismatic churches.
“C3 Church Devonport Pastor Brian Webber said the growing congregation finally had its own home after 14 years since buying the majestic 132-year-old church building for an undisclosed amount.
“In late July, the church will relocate from a rented converted car maintenance workshop on the corner of Fenton and Parker Streets to the stately heritage building with its stained glass windows and steeple.”
C3 have made it into their new home, a month early.