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Hall hire bringing hundreds to 'church'

Hall hire bringing hundreds to 'church'

Hall hire bringing hundreds to 'church'

14 June 2022

Michelle Wheatley makes sure Menai Salvos is open for community use all week long.

By Lauren Martin

As an administrator for Shire Salvos Menai, Michelle Wheatley’s phone runs hot. The calls could be anything from building-maintenance issues to dealing with the various corps groups that use the multi-purpose hall – playgroup, youth group, seniors group or craft group.

But nothing compares to the biggest users of the corps facilities – community sporting groups!

With so many sporting fields closed due to wet-weather conditions over the past few months, word got out in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney that Menai Salvos had a well-priced, professionally-built facility. Now, it’s being used nearly every day or night of the week. And Michelle couldn’t be happier!

“The hall hire has really picked up after the COVID restrictions eased, especially with the huge amount of rain that Sydney has been through,” said Michelle of the purpose-built indoor basketball/soccer hall that Menai Salvos rents out to various sporting groups.

“The way it’s designed is that people have to walk through the church entry to get to the sporting hall. People have to walk past the library bookcases, past the spiritual blackboard message and then through the lounge room, which is a warm, safe community space.

“The bonus is that staff can be here or people from church who have rehearsals or other things they are using the building for, and they cross paths with the members of the community who are here for the hall hire.”

Through Michelle’s amazing organisational skills and gift of hospitality and evangelism, Menai Salvos is building connections with sporting teams and people in the community that they have never had before.

Parents and carers sit in the lounge area, waiting to pick their kids up from training and enjoy a chat. According to Michelle, the Menai-Bangor community isn’t huge, so most people can identify some connection with the Salvos through past contact with the playgroup or through friends of friends.

“We have had one woman come back to church after not having been here for more than five years,” Michelle said. “I have seen people from the sporting groups chatting with people from the church who are here for other things like prayer groups and worship rehearsals, Bible study or wedding rehearsals.”

And a bonus is that the hall hire brings in extra income for the corps, which Shire Salvos use to assist locals in need. “We are thrilled with the way it’s worked out,” Michelle said. “There are more people walking through our doors now than ever before!”

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