Fund (Love) My Neighbourhood
When the results were announced I am sure many Uniting church members were asking, “what if we had taken action to prepare a submission to…?” The 2017 State governments’ Fund My Neighbourhood results include grants for at least two suburban UC churches. A restoration project of the Unley Uniting Church where 453 people voted for a $150,000 grant to undertake restoration work on their main street steeple! The Morialta UC Netball club, managed by dedicated volunteers, received $80.000 for resurfacing netball courts to meet the growing demand as the number of teams has grown from 4 to 20 over the past 10 years.
Unley Uniting Church has been home of Kindergym Unley for many years and this programme involves 500 active kids every term. Other on site community programmes includes youth and children’s activities and social support for residents in every stage of life. As part of its community history the heritage-listed building has weathered over 100 years and the steeple is in need of urgent repair. Repair estimates exceeded available funds and the future of the building with a small congregation was uncertain. The congregation expressed their feelings when they noted, “we deeply valued every opportunity to provide care over the last 100 years.”
The growth of the Morialta UC Netball Club involves over 120 enthusiastic families and a grant to resurface the courts was needed as extensive cracking and lifting over 20 years was evident. “The benefits to the club, the Church and associated community will continue our club base and provide opportunities for girls in the community to play affordable netball.”
Uniting churches in SA play a critical and often unacknowledged part in helping neighbours meet and build welcoming and compassionate communities. While many congregations have 30 to 40 attending on a Sunday there are many emerging opportunities to make better use of our gifts and assets by working with others with a shared vision. A significant number of churches are now hosting and supporting new congregations based on ethnic identity others have a range of face to face groups meeting on week days and these play an important role in being good neighbours.
A recent national survey by Red Cross has found that for nearly one-in-four Australians loneliness is a regular part of their lives. According to Red Cross spokeswoman Isabel Stankiewicz, loneliness or social isolation can strike anyone, at any time. “Loneliness does not discriminate whether you are sleeping rough or sleeping in the penthouse — loneliness can touch you,” she said. “It might be you have left your job, lost a loved one, having a baby, it is these vulnerable times loneliness can attack.”
The survey found that reasons for loneliness included…death of loved one, 34 per cent. Moving from friends/family, 31 per cent. Isolation at school or work, 22 per cent. Divorce or separation, 21 per cent. Losing a job, 17 per cent. Source: Australian Red Cross Loneliness Survey 2017
Congratulations to Unley UC and Morialta UC for taking the initiative and in working with others to prepare grant submissions. In 2018 the Urban Mission Network will be supporting and encouraging congregations to be good neighbours. Several publications and on line networks are valuable resources as we set a course to assist each other and learn from experience.
Rev Dr Dean Eland