Glenbrook makes a meal of it
When members of Glenbrook Uniting Church saw a need to strengthen ties at their local church, they did so in a very biblical way: they hosted a meal.
The idea came when two members of the congregation, Tammy Lee and Emma Whale, were talking about how the young teens in the church’s youth group were not really connecting outside of church events.
“It came about as we were talking about how to help the youth to connect with each other, and we realised that even the adults weren’t connecting much because, being busy families, we aren’t all there every week which means we often miss each other,” Ms Lee said.
“We realised we needed something too, and having a connect dinner, especially in summer, the adults could meet and get to know each other and the kids could hop in the pool… That’s kind of how it went..”
On 7 December, the congregation hosted a community dinner at Emma and Lachlan Whale’s house in Springwood. It was open to members of the church, newcomers, and anyone else who might be interested.
Ellie Elia is Minister of the Word at Glenbrook. She told Insights that she was impressed at the hospitality shown by members of the congregation.
“I just love that they saw a gap and generously went about filling it with authentic hospitality for others,” she said.
Rev. Ellia told Insights that organisers invited people who may not be directly connected to Glenbrook or to the church as yet, but who are searching for meaningful connections in a faith community.
“So perhaps in a small way it was offering no strings attached connection, saying, “We are here for you – just as you are, just as we are… when / if you feel ready for it,” Rev. Ellia said.
“I gave a little Nadia Bolz Webber-inspired speech about how when the minister disappoints or lets you down, it’s the community of people who make all the difference in being church … So keep turning up for each other, keep being the church for one another especially when it’s hard or messy or uncertain.”
“We had 50 people come and everyone made some great connections and the young people had heaps of fun,” Ms Whale said.
“The kids all made new friends too from what I could see,” Ms Lee said.
“Outside of the youth group the boys realised they had other very important things in common like handball and gaming.”
“We had a chance to chat with people that we don’t normally get a chance to, other newcomers as well as established members.”
“This event also represents a consistent effort to practice hospitality as a core value of the congregations and as an expression of the hospitality of God,” Rev. Ellia said.
“The congregation has embraced the opportunity to share meals with people they may not know. It’s been very effective in helping long term members form deeper connections too.”
“I also believe that God works in places where there are authentic connections … if we can be truly welcome to each other and developing life-giving relationships, then we can also do this for others.”