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Caloundra Corps builds on foundation laid by 'A Big Year'

Caloundra Corps builds on foundation laid by 'A Big Year'

Caloundra Corps builds on foundation laid by 'A Big Year'

A street outreach program at the Kawana Family Store in Caloundra develops connections and builds relationships in the local community.

By Simone Worthing

“We have only been here at Caloundra Corps since January, so the intention wasn’t to implement lots of new things but rather to support the various teams, build on what they are already doing and, where needed, approach things we do, differently,” says Auxiliary-Lieutenant Sherene Staines, who is Corps Officer at Caloundra with her husband, Major Phil Staines.

“We are refocusing and recalibrating – working through what is our purpose and place and how do we partner with God to achieve this? It’s all about our heart – having the heart of Jesus and taking it out into the community. The corps people here have that heart and are keen to engage with the community.”

The Staines' chose the theme of “A Big Year” for 2017 - what it means to walk in the ways of Jesus. There is a different focus area for each month, including creating margins with God, trusting God, following the Spirit, being humble, a generous life, forgiveness, loving your neighbour and loving your enemies.

The series includes different challenges people can take along the way and new perspectives on each topic to stimulate discussion and motivate growth in that area.

“It’s important that what we do doesn’t become all about the programs, but about the journey and building relationships,” Sherene says. “How do we show people the heart of God, the heart of Jesus, through the journey?”

The Caloundra Salvation Army, with four relatively large Family Stores, is focusing on continuing to develop connections and build relationships at these sites. 

“These stores are on the mission ‘front line’,” says Sherene. “People come into the stores not just to buy clothes, but often to pour out their hearts, for assistance, or wanting to volunteer in helping raise money to fund our services. We need to foster these connections.”

At the Kawana Family Store, where a community dinner and kids’ activities takes place each Tuesday night, change is happening.

“This important community connection through a meal and conversation, is run by a great team of volunteers organised by Ray and Sue Sandberg,” says Sherene. “Kathy Hughes, Caloundra’s Children’s Ministry Worker, provides activities for the many kids (called Kidzone). The outreach dinner is becoming a real community space that could grow into other activities in the new year.”

Volunteers from the community prepare the meal. One of the volunteers has a distant Salvation Army connection, while another just wanted to help and now brings her grandchildren to Brick [formerly Lego Club].

“A few people have recently come to church through this outreach as well,” says Kathy. “A few people have asked for prayer. We are looking at developing the space where people can share their testimony or talk about what’s happening for them, during dinner. These are natural connections we’re making with our community as we strive to reflect kingdom values.

“I am really enjoying doing Kidzone and getting to know new kids from the community and their families. Often these families are on the fringes of our community and it’s great to connect with them.”

The Staines' readily acknowledge the volunteers and staff in all their activities and programs, who work hard and are dedicated to getting alongside people, serving, and seeing the love of Christ impact lives.

The corps hopes to run an Alpha or Christianity Explained course in the new year, as well as start a small group for those interested. They are also looking at starting a new group for young mums in the community who feel isolated, don’t have a support network around them, or lack healthy local connections.

Sherene explains that although many people think the big issues people face are homelessness and addiction – which do exist and are real for many – among the biggest struggles people face are loneliness and isolation.

“People just want to belong to something and to have caring connections with others,” she says. “We think a friendship group for young mums will take off, naturally and organically.”

Glenys Lawless, who serves in a number of areas within the corps, has started a new group for women, alongside Commissioner Jan Condon, called Flourish. It runs events every couple of months and attracts women from the community including Family Store volunteers and customers, Salvos Connect women, and women from the local area.

“We feel the heart of God in all these spaces – so warm, friendly and caring,” says Sherene. “With our eyes fixed on Jesus, he is enabling us to connect differently and meaningfully with the community.”

The Family Doorways Program (a family support program in partnership with five local primary schools) also refers students and their families to Kidzone and Brick, and the Connect Kids camp.

The Caloundra Corps, as part of the Sunshine Coast HUB, is also working with other corps, including Maroochydore, Noosa/Coolum and Nambour, as well as other Salvation Army expressions, to better support the needs of people in the community.
 
“We are seeking to increase collaboration in areas such as supported accommodation, Salvos Connect, Family Stores and alternate education," says Sherene.

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