By Emily Ferguson
On Thursday 20 July, around 30 people from the churches of Christ in NSW & ACT network gathered at the Paddington Church of Christ building for a Network Engagement Workshop.
The workshop was organised by the Properties & Projects team at the direction of Conference Executive and aimed to draw out the mind of our network regarding the potential future of this site.
“It was very encouraging to see pastors, leaders, church planters, former congregation members, and board members come together to listen to God and one another,” said Victor Tee, churches of Christ Conference President. “The passion for God’s kingdom and a desire to see the churches of Christ network come together burns bright. There was a willingness to release “what’s mine” so that God will work in the darkness.
“Whilst the sale of the building was heard as an option, the overwhelming sense was that God is bigger than the financial costs, and many saw Paddington as a place and space for spiritual refuge, a place of peace, and a space where there can be discipleship in community. There was a sense for the need of being interdependent and working together, both within the network as well as with other churches in the area.”
Among the attendees were Matt Destry, Senior Pastor at Discovery Church in Melbourne, who moved to Paddington in 2009 to plant Vox Community (which met in that building until they stopped meeting in 2013); Adrian Jackson, Senior Pastor at Restore Church in Castle Hill, who was saved, baptised and married at Paddington Church of Christ; Harold Hayward, whose grandfather Thomas Bagley was the first minister there; and Davina Owens, who ran the church’s childcare centre until it closed in 2015 and was part of Paddington Church of Christ until it closed in 2019.
Matt Destry, Jess Smith (formerly St George’s Paddington) and John Stanley (St George’s Paddington) share their lived experiences of ministry in Paddington.
The group received a tour of the site before hearing some of the historical, financial and planning realities from both churches of Christ staff as well as external ministers and consultants. This was followed by hearing some possibilities for the property and engaging in small group dreaming and wondering. Despite the complexity of the site and the challenges ahead, the meeting held an overwhelming tone of hopefulness for what God might do in the future.
There was a sense of God’s heart for restoration – evidenced even on the day itself. As Davina Owens commented at the end, “I came here with a broken heart, and I left relieved that some of the church’s story has come out.”
Attendees provided feedback to Conference Executive as part of their discernment process.
Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE