Network ‘Pilgrims’ Gather to Explore Unity, Restoration, and Life

21 Jun 2024

By Amy Galliford and Josh Gibbon 

Earlier this week, a group of 30 gathered at The Tops Conference Centre to be hosted by the Network Resource Team at Pilgrimage Retreat. The two-day retreat welcomed ‘pilgrims’ from as far as Nimbin and Canberra for an orientation to the churches of Christ in NSW & ACT. Some were new ministers seeking endorsement, while others were representatives of churches exploring affiliation, and others were new church staff, elders, and chaplains looking to expand their understanding of our network’s heart and history. 

Executive Ministry Director, Daz Farrell, opened the retreat on Monday morning by sharing a bird’s-eye view of the network’s highest calling.  

“Jesus said He would make all things new, not make all new things,” Daz explained, referencing the urgent kingdom invitation we have from Jesus to be co-restorers of the world around us.

Expanding on the network’s core values of Unity, Restoration, and Life, he articulated our intention to encourage unity and diversity in the body of Christ, to partner with God’s restoration of people and communities, and to offer Christ’s invitation to all to receive life to the full. 

Retreat delegates also heard from the leaders of Global Mission Partners, ACOM, Fresh Hope Communities, the Property and Projects Team and the CCNSWACT chaplaincy team, who each shared the mission and context of their ministries. 

Reflecting on this session, Jordan Westfield, the Services Pastor from Northside Church, said,

“The big theme I’ve seen echoed through today – just the power of a church that is all about restoration and reconciliation. I really loved the session about the different arms of the network and what we actually do. It’s more than just a church movement. With Global Mission Partners and Fresh Hope Communities we’re reaching people beyond a church service.” 

Across the two days, pilgrims were invited to actively participate in sessions, including sharing their own stories. 


Jordan reflected on this session saying, “It was a really cool opportunity to meet people in a real, genuine way, and to just be able to open up with different people that in some ways have had similar journeys to you, but in many ways very different journeys to you. To be able to share and be vulnerable with other people and to encourage each other and pray with each other really builds community.” 

An unexpected power outage led to a unique presentation of Churches of Christ history. Cathy Kleeman from ACOM embraced the challenge and invited the group to gather around a fire outside at sunset, as she shared the origin story of our network and its founding people and principles. 

When the group shared in communion the following morning, it was a moment made more powerful from hearing the night before about the cost our founders paid to make it accessible to all.  

Church Health Ministry Leader, Nathan Marshall, led the group to explore the ethos of our network, sharing stories about how this is playing out in our churches, while Leader Health Ministry Leader, Andrew McInnes, shared about the importance of both work and rest in their leadership. Ross Stewart gave an introduction and overview of safe church and ministry practices, speaking to our network’s value for prioritising the care of all people. 

One pilgrim, Jennifer, a new board member at Engage Church in Northwest Sydney reflected on her time at Pilgrimage saying,

“I’m loving the Christ-centredness of this community. I loved (learning about) the unity, restoration and life symbols and the idea of those three things being really important. Hearing stories from other people within the Church – it’s really challenging me and making me more certain that we’re (Jennifer and her husband) now in the right church.” 

Know someone in your community that could benefit from this experience or want to understand more about our network yourself? Pilgrimage is on each year in June, and we’d love to have you with us next year!

Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE