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Brimbank celebrates 25 years of thriving diversity

Brimbank celebrates 25 years of thriving diversity

Brimbank celebrates 25 years of thriving diversity

Brimbank City Community Church has 250 members of the community attending the church through various activities.

By Jessica Morris

Brimbank City Community Church was planted in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne in 1992, and since then it has developed into a thriving community church which welcomes a range of people groups.

Formerly known as Keilor Corps, Brimbank celebrated its 25th anniversary in June, and was attended by the first appointed officer, Major Susan Wallace. Susan, a cadet at the time, and her late husband, then-Divisional Envoy Cameron Wallace, planted the corps.

Anniversary celebrations included a church camp, held at Lady Northcote Recreation campsite, and a Saturday night bush dance (pictured right). The corps conducted many bush dances in the 1990s as a way to connect with the community.

Celebrations culminated in a Sunday service and lunch, which welcomed old and new faces. Corps historian, Jan Cowan, took the congregation through the history of development of the corps since it was opened.

Brimbank is a culturally diverse epicentre in Victoria, with a large Indian and Chinese population. Corps Officer, Major Simon Damen, says there are 23 different nationalities represented in his congregation, ranging from Chinese, Korean, Maltese, Indian, European, New Zealanders, African and Samoan families.

“People here take non-English speaking families under their wing – it’s what you’d do for family,” he says.

Most people start attending the corps due to social connections, but the corps’ location near the train station also helps. Major Damen says the church’s growth has been organic, owing to the caring, family-oriented attitude it has embraced over the past 25 years.
 
The church also conducts a National Church Development survey every year, which helps set direction and to cultivate the health of the corps.

“Every two months we hold a corps fellowship meal where everybody brings food to share,” says Major Damen. “We have noodles, soups, dumpings, lasagnes – everything!” he laughs. “We hold it after our Sunday service, and 80 per cent of our attendees stay for the meal.”
 
Corps leadership has in the past looked into the idea of conducting services for various ethnicities, however, the response they received from the congregation quashed the idea when they realised people preferred worshipping together as a diverse community.

“Families enjoy feeling part of the church family, and don’t want to worship in separate services. Sunday services are truly ‘family services’ and cater for the ‘whole’ family. There is something for everyone. Language is not a barrier, people feel accepted and enjoy the spirit of God,” says Simon.

“Our all-ages worship is a part of the attraction, and we open up the platform to the children before they head off to Kids Church.

Brimbank City has 250 members of the community attending the church through various activities including kids clubs, youth group, corporate worship, and other programs such as Mainly Music and Companion Club. Major Damen says he is privileged to have a number of committed leaders heading up these activities.

“I have a lot of space to focus on teaching, preaching, developing and training new leaders ... births, deaths and marriages,” he says. “This is made possible by the hard work of all the section leaders doing a great job. We try not to run anything the corps cannot run itself.”

Major Damen is proud to say that Brimbank City Community Church is “a celebration of our similarities and differences”.

“We all want to be loved and accepted, yet we have cultural differences [that should be celebrated],” he says. “Church means no one is excluded and everyone is family.”

Over the next few months, every Sunday, Others will feature different areas where #salvoschurchlife is thriving and ask why. Please, show us what your #salvoschurchlife looks like by posting a photo to on a public Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page using the hashtag #salvoschurchlife or tell us your story by emailing: others@aus.salvationarmy.org

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