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Organic church grows in Stawell and Ararat

Organic church grows in Stawell and Ararat

Organic church grows in Stawell and Ararat

2 September 2020

The pandemic has moved Salvos in Ararat and Stawell outside the church building and into homes for organic church. Pictured here, corps members Hamish (left) and Bec (right) give demonstrations of stories found in John’s Gospel in their individual homes. (Photos taken prior to the second lockdown and mask regulations.)

By Rod Yule

In the face of great uncertainty and change, and the ongoing challenges of a COVID-19 world, God is at work in the rural western Victoria towns of Stawell and Ararat.

It’s not uncommon for God to use the most unlikely events and people to bring about his purposes. God using Babylon to renew Israel, Jesus growing up in the backwater town of Nazareth, and his bloody death on a cross outside Jerusalem are cases in point.

Now, in Stawell and Ararat, God’s Spirit is breathing new life in the midst of a global pandemic. Pre-COVID, nearly 40 people would attend Salvation Army services at the two corps. With the onset of COVID-19, the formal services stopped and prior to Stage 3 Lockdown, there were 16 small groups and nearly 80 people engaged in meeting together in homes to pray, read God’s word and share in meals together. All the groups have been exploring the Seven Signs of John’s Gospel.

People who never previously came to the Sunday services are now coming to these ‘home churches’. Captains Greg and Lynne Turnbull, Corps Officers at Ararat, and Sandra Pickens, Ministry Assistant at Stawell, feel that they are “more engaged in the community”, and the groups are “more organic and less programmed”.

“People are asking questions, they bring their different gifts, and it’s more relational,” Lynne said.

Sandra and Greg noted that there is more significant engagement, and sitting in homes face-to-face means there is more intentional care. “We don’t just look into the back of people’s heads!” Greg said.

Without COVID-19, Greg admits they may have continued to do the same traditional services. In the middle of genuine anxiety and grief for people in the face of this pandemic, God is doing new things.

ROD YULE IS A GENERAL MANAGER IN THE MISSION RESOURCES DEPARTMENT

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