Members of Scots Church Adelaide will be interested in the conversations that have taken place in Australia over the past few years about the place and contribution of churches in city centres. I am preparing a series of articles in an attempt to summarise some of the wisdom and insights shared at conferences, workshops and through the many conversations that have taken place. The first article explores the way a congregation’s identity is shaped by its history, its immediate context and the implications this has for their mission vocation. This article is on the Scots web site and printed copies are available from the office.
While maintaining traditional patterns of ministry congregations become learning communities by listening to the rhythms of city life. City churches are also being made new again by contributing to their particular contexts, adding to social capital, talking with neighbours and by networking across city precincts.
By working with the support of the Urban Mission Network, city congregations have been privileged to host a number of guests from overseas including Anne Morisy from the UK in 2006, Diana Butler Bass from the US in 2009 and Chris Baker from the William Temple Foundation in 2013. Two other conferences have been important as leaders shared their insights of the Australian experience. These meetings have included The Church at the Centre of the City conference held here in September 2010 with speakers including Tim Costello plus a range of electives and the two day September 2012 Church on Main Street workshop held at St Andrews, Glenelg.
It’s been helpful to share insights between congregations with similar aspirations, connecting and becoming partners with others with similar goals and visions. Many of our vision statements also draw on our hopes and dreams...“The imagined city... a space of openness, tolerance, and justice in which the nations of the world can gather and live in peace.” (Beaumont and Baker 2011).
Scots Church Adelaide’s vision statement, called by God to be a welcoming, inclusive, worshipping community... committed to justice, learning and care, anticipating a world transformed by the love of God, is a profound declaration on your part and resonates with the vision of other UCA city churches in Australia. These common hopes and dreams are similar and Darwin Memorial’s declaration, making a space for God in the city’s heart, and implies a commitment to its city centre location. Pilgrim Church’s mission statement includes, celebrating our unity and diversity, valuing worship, teaching, creativity and justice. The UC congregation at264 Pitt St Sydney is a progressive faith community of justice-seeking friends in the heart of Sydney.
In the weeks ahead I look forward to hearing about your experiences and the contribution Scots makes to city life. Many of your hospitable week day activities are developing bonds, connecting to the North Tce neighbourhood and we should not underestimate the fact that you have been a street presence for over 160 years!
Rev Dr Dean Eland, Interim Minister
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