Palmerston comes alive with hope and freedom
Palmerston comes alive with hope and freedom
22 November 2019
“We are so excited to see this place coming alive with hope and freedom,” said Captain Katie Ryan, the Outreach Officer at Palmerston Corps in the Northern Territory.
“God is doing so much and this space is becoming a place where everyone can belong and be part of the family, regardless of race, upbringing or anything else!”
Palmerston Corps, 20km outside the Darwin city centre, is buzzing with activities from art and music therapy to sewing, engaging worship and open, authentic discussions.
The corps has recently recommenced Sunday morning services, set up around tables and chairs with a “cafe-ish” feel, with a new format and mission strategy.
“We are dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus by creating a climate that provides an authentic experience of God’s kingdom through a shared exploration of scripture, worship and tradition,” said Katie.
“To do this, there are three parts to the new format of services – we focus church around the parts of ‘engage, involve and challenge’.
“Engage is coffee and tea, welcoming, counting down to the start of the meeting and a welcome to country.
“Involve is singing, chatting in small groups, playing the game Pass the Salt or a similar spinning-wheel question game, and just sharing with each other. We emphasise that this is not my place or your place, but our place, and we dwell here together. We share our traditions, whether cultural or family, and The Salvation Army too, and learn about and respect each other.”
There is another break for coffee to give people an opportunity to relax and chat with others. The majority of people who turn up have not attended church before, are coming back after past hurts from the church, or are experiencing homelessness.
The third part of the service is ‘challenge’ – a 10-minute message, usually from Katie or Captain Matt Ryan. People then break into small groups and “have a yarn” about how the message applies to their lives.
“We sometimes finish with a song, and then break for lunch, which is open to anyone in the community,” said Katie. “We usually fill our space for services with 20-30 people and have between 40-50 for lunch.
“Due to the different Indigenous clans coming for lunch, we are strategic and careful with our table layout,” Katie explained. “We are hoping that this can be a space where cultural barriers break down and we can all be together.”
After lunch, OrangeSky mobile laundry service comes along, so people can wash and dry their clothes and have a shower. The corps hosts a movie for everyone to watch and have a place to be while waiting for their clothes to be ready.
Katie and Matt have a firm mission strategy in place and are intentional about using their space to reach out to the local community and help meet their needs.
‘The Living Room’ drop-in centre is one part of the mission plan.
“Through the centre, we partner with the mental health group TEMHCO (Top End Mental Health Consumers Organisation) to run programs four days a week to both people who come to them, and our Doorways clients,” said Katie.
“They run activities such as art and music therapy and sewing. They also provide volunteers to cook the food we provide to offer lunch each day to around 30 people. A beautiful team is starting to develop and we work together to serve the community.
“The Doorways work is incredible, leading people into the drop-in space. They can become part of the programs, watch a movie with others in a safe space and form friendships. The harmony is working!”
The corps has also established a community garden that provides fruit and vegetables for the lunches, and as well as for clients to take home.
“It’s become a real community space with an amazing volunteer gardener, community members and Doorways clients giving us plants and checking on the garden’s progress, and a ‘guerrilla’ gardener who comes mysteriously each night and waters the garden!
“Nobody owns anything, we are all part of this community and are working together.
“People come as guests and leave as family – and we want to be a healthy family that resolves conflicts and builds what God intended a healthy family to look like. It’s about God’s Kingdom, working and belonging together as his family.
“God is doing so much and we are so excited to see this place becoming a space where people belong and are part of the family.
“Their situations may not be changing, but they are seeing hope, and experiencing freedom, within them.”