Evolve: A Transformative Faith Community at Turramurra Uniting Church
EVOLVE is an innovative discipleship community that has breathed new life into a traditional setting, replacing the evening worship service with a refreshing approach to spirituality, inclusivity, and growth at Turramurra Uniting Church.
The journey of EVOLVE began with a group of dedicated young adults who recognised the need for a different type of worship experience in the Turramurra community. The group worked with Church Council and ministers Rev. Phil Swain and Rev. Kevin Kim.
“EVOLVE is a project that is owned and driven by young adults that looks to provide opportunities for people to worship God in different ways,” says Will Giacometti, a leadership team member for EVOLVE. “While it’s not perfect, we felt the spirit calling us to be bold; to move away from a traditional church service to a gathering that met the current community where they were at.”
At the core of EVOLVE is a commitment to inclusivity. Traditional church services can sometimes feel exclusive or intimidating to newcomers. EVOLVE seeks to create an open and welcoming environment where everyone, regardless of their background or beliefs, can explore their spirituality.
The EVOLVE community has replaced the conventional evening worship service with a series of events and gatherings that encourage open dialogue, self-reflection, and spiritual growth. These events take on various forms, from discussions on contemporary social issues to deep dives into biblical texts and creative ways of expressing worship. The aim is to provide individuals with an intentional discipleship community.
Pictured: Worship in the round at the first EVOLVE gathering with Rev. Phil Swain leading communion to begin the journey.
“EVOLVE is the epitome of Growing Young. Rather than continuing to resource the dwindling evening service at Turramurra Uniting Church, the young adults charged forward with a proposal to end the existing evening service and begin something new. We hope to open the Church building as a home rather than a symbol of religious institution,” says Clare, a leadership team member of EVOLVE.
One of the standout features of EVOLVE is its commitment to community outreach. The members of this faith community have recognised the importance of practicing what they preach. They plan to actively engage with the broader Turramurra community through various initiatives. This approach aligns with their belief that faith should lead to action and positive change in the world, and foster a sense of community and interconnectedness beyond the physical boundaries of Turramurra.
The journey of EVOLVE has not been without its challenges. It required a willingness to adapt and break from convention, which can be daunting in the context of a traditional church. However, the Turramurra Uniting Church community has embraced the change, recognising the need to evolve to meet the spiritual and social needs of a changing world and the young people who worship at Turramurra.
“EVOLVE is specifically designed to meet the needs of young adults hungry for meaningful discipleship, but is open to any and all people looking to experience their faith in a new and exciting ways. We look forward to seeing how this faith community continues to evolve!,” notes Clare of the future of EVOLVE.
The emergence of EVOLVE at Turramurra Uniting Church is a testament to the power of evolution and adaptation within faith communities. By replacing the traditional evening worship service with a more inclusive, contemporary, and creative approach, EVOLVE has breathed new life into the church and drawn in a diverse range of individuals seeking spiritual growth and connection.
“This is an exciting new community set up by young people for young people,” says Joanna Drayton, Team Leader for Pulse (which is the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT youth and young people’s resourcing unit).
“What started as a home group of passionate young people, has become a new community that is embracing discipleship and new and creative ways of worshipping God.”
Will hopes that EVOLVE will make space for discipleship: “We believe this gathering will provide a fresh space for growth in relationships, faith and numbers, all of which are crucial in developing more disciples who can bear the fruits of the spirit in their own lives.”
In a world where spirituality is constantly evolving, the story of EVOLVE serves as an inspiring example of how faith communities can adapt and remain relevant. Through its dedication to inclusivity, community outreach, and active discipleship, EVOLVE has revitalised the Turramurra Uniting Church’s evening service and has also created a welcoming and transformative space for all those seeking to evolve in their faith journey.