Canowindra Connections Centre: working towards community
Known as Australia’s hot air balloon capital, the historic village of Canowindra is home to airborne adventures, acclaimed vineyards and a fascinating colonial history. Located on the Belabula River, between Orange and Cowra in the central west of New South Wales, Canowindra is home to 2,300 people with a strong sense of community.
The Canowindra, Cranbury, and Cudal linked congregations began a cooperative arrangement with the Anglican Parish of Canowindra/Eugowra in 2004 after the Uniting Church Congregation voted to join the All Saints’ Anglican Congregation for worship under the leadership of Rev. Margaret Finlay. Home Church Groups were created where members of both denominations began relationships focusing on The Gospel and love of Jesus.
Since then, and wanting to contribute further to their community, they have established several services, including the FoodBasket, to assist low-income families in accessing cheaper food items and a Community Garden financed by a Uniting grant, among others. But they knew they could do more.
After several years of thinking and analysing how to become more open and give more to the community and a visit from Peter Worland, the then Executive Director of Uniting, a vision of a bigger Canowindra was born. With assistance from Corrina Alchin, Community Engagement Leader at Uniting, they undertook a Needs Analysis in 2016 and, together with congregations, community members, and other denominations, established a Reference Group to help determine the best direction for the future mission.
The identified areas were lonely older people, families needing assistance, single parents, and young people with mental health issues. After visiting Albury/Wodonga, where a similar development existed for some years, they saw an opportunity to use their resources better to meet the community’s needs.
Late last year, the Canowindra Connections Centre was officially opened by Rev. Sharon Hollis, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Ms Colleen Geyer, General Secretary, Dr Denise Wood, Chairperson, and members of the Macquarie Darling Presbytery. From the Synod, Rev. Bronwyn Murphy, Associate Secretary and Kingsley Murphy, Presbytery Service Manager, attended the event alongside with Mr Phil Donato MP, and his wife. This Centre includes a new worship space, an internet cafe, a commercial kitchen, three counselling rooms, a new pantry for the Foodbasket, and a new vestry that is now a shared space for both the minister and a part-time Coordinator, among other new spaces.
Kingsley Murphy told Insights, “The extensions have been created with a community focus in mind, providing office space to visiting professionals, which was a great need for the people of Canowindra.”
Marion Wilson is the Chairperson of the Church Council at Canowindra Uniting Chruch and was the main person behind the development. She told Insights that, “after several years of planning, we self-funded the wonderful facility we now have for the church and the community. There is a Stage Two for further works that will complete the complex that we, unfortunately, cannot fund at this time.”
“The community of Canowindra is excited by the opening of the facility in the town, which will assist in supporting many people. The potential for people to get to know Jesus through action, service, and The Word is enormous. We have learned much on our journey – especially that it is in God’s time and place that it has all come together.”
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2 thoughts on “Canowindra Connections Centre: working towards community”
This was a wonderful initiative and a great day
In the photo two key people are not named: Mrs Denise Wood is the Chairperson of the Presbytery. Corinna Coates is the Church Engagement Consultant under Uniting and a great contributor to this project.
This is a truly wonderful initiative. We pay special tribute to Marion Wilson who was a lovely gift of God into our lives when we worshiped at the Canowindra UC during the 1990s and continues to be a dear friend. She has been an even greater gift of God into the Canowindra community for her love, compassion, energy and vision. Congratulations to all the team involved. John and Elaine Morris