Letting go, to breathe new life into mission
Pictured (from left to right): Luke Lee, Rev. Myeongcheol John Oh, Carol Mason, Rev. Simon Hansford, Rev. Ingrid Robertson and Rev. Glen Spencer
On 30 July, Willoughby Northbridge Uniting Church announced their extraordinary gift of $1.5 million to the Synod Growth Investment Fund. A decision not made lightly, this gift is an inspiring way to look at both an end and an opportunity for a new beginning.
For after more than 70 years of faithful service to the local community and beyond, the last service of the Castlecrag Uniting Church congregation was held on 23 December 2018. The difficult decision was taken to sell the Castlecrag Uniting Church property to help fund both mission and new ministries within the NSW Synod. This decision fell to the responsible body, the Willoughby Northbridge Uniting Church.
“As a church we are custodians of gifts from past generations, and are called to be generous to build up God’s Kingdom,” said Carol Mason, Chairperson of the Willoughby Northbridge Uniting Church Council during their service.
“Our congregations of Willoughby and Northbridge wished to see that the resources bequeathed to us by the faithful members of Castlecrag Uniting Church be used to assist in the Lord’s work in new, emerging and disadvantaged communities, where funding is much needed, our preference being South West Sydney where there are hopes of a new church plant.”
On 4 June, 2022 the Castlecrag site was sold and the closure service was held on 28 August 2022. This service was a time to celebrate what God had done and to give thanks to God for all the mission and ministry that has happened at Castlecrag Uniting Church.
“It was also a time to remember that God is always doing something new as in Isaiah: ‘Behold, I am doing a new thing,” Mrs Mason continued. “It was a bittersweet time of worship and fellowship, where we sang, laughed, cried and reminisced, with the knowledge that future generationsacross our State and the ACT, as they seek to spread God’s Kingdom, will be blessed by Castlecrag’s careful stewardship and faithfulness over decades.”
Rev Alan Wilson, a past minister of Northbridge-Castlecrag UC, wrote the epilogue for They shall be one’ – a history of the Northbridge-Castlecrag Parish of the Uniting Church in Australia 1977 – 1987.
This quote from the epilogue still seems very apt 36 years later: “This history is meant to help… us to realise that history does not stop nor must we. As generation follows generation we are meant to take up where others have had to leave off. We must learn to develop strongly in the arms of dedication and devotion so that a future generation will be able to look back from another vantage point and give thanks to God for the way He has seen fit to bless us and use the church family within this parish. Hitherto hath the Lord led us. Thanks be to God.”
“It is my privilege, as Chair of CMC, on behalf of the Willoughby-Northbridge Uniting Church congregation to present $1.5 million to Luke [Lee] and Glen [Spencer] representing the Synod Growth Investment Fund, to assist in helping the Uniting Church in NSW grow in discipleship, relationship, number and impact,” said Mrs Mason.
“We recognise that Synod’s Future Directions calls us to become a contemporary, courageous and growing Church – across all geography, cultures and generations, and we trust that the committee of the Synod Growth Investment Fund will use these funds where they are most needed to be a courageous and growing church in areas such as South West Sydney, not as blessed with resources as we are.”
“It was a pleasure to work with the Willoughby Northbridge Church Council to discern the missional use of their sale proceeds. We are grateful for their generosity and faithfulness as they shared their blessing and sowed into the work of the Synod of NSW and ACT in new mission fields,” says Luke Lee, Director of Strategic Property.
“This is an inspiring example of how the common wealth of the Church can be liberated and shared, creating new opportunities for positive impact far beyond its original boundaries,” says Rev. Glen Spencer, Director of Mission.