St Andrew’s Gardiner Uniting Church in Malvern in the south-east of Melbourne was full on Sunday afternoon 10 April 2016.
People came to witness a gracious act of faith as the leaders and members of St Andrew’s handed their home of worship to the Mulgrave Indonesian Congregation.
The gathering was a celebration of 105 years of faithful service and the beginning of a new era of life and mission.
St Andrew’s has played a pivotal role in the local community since it was established as a place of worship for the Presbyterian community in 1911. Coincidentally, the current building was reconstructed from the Free Church of Scotland in Carlton so that it might serve the growing needs of the community.
At that time, people moved the church brick by brick from Carlton and built it on the current site.
In his message, Rev. Tony Duncan summed up this new transformation for St Andrew’s. “In this Easter season we witness the resurrection of God’s mission in a different way. The Indonesian Congregation will continue God’s mission and ministry in this place in which was started by St Andrew’s 105 years ago.”
Members of St Andrew’s have been invited to continuing worshipping with the Mulgrave Indonesian Congregation Service each Sunday morning where an English translation will be available.
During the service, Rev. John Mann, Presbytery Minister of Port Philip East, explained how for nearly 10 years the Mulgrave Indonesian Congregation searched for a spiritual home that would accommodate its needs including dedicated ministries for children (there are nearly 90), second generation young people, overseas students and family. Until now, they have met in two different locations for worship because they did not have the space.
“We received this wonderful news almost unexpectedly from St Andrew’s in a matter of months,” youth leader Edward Pasaribu told me. “In the past 10 years we had conversations with other congregations but with no result.”
A member of the Mulgrave Indonesian choir echoed this joy saying to me with a tear, “We will continue to look after this beautiful place of worship.”
I thank God for St Andrew’s Congregation who were able to make this bold decision. It was not easy to let go of their place of worship for 105 years. They have shown a deep trust this is the best way to continue God’s mission and ministry for all God’s people.
For St Andrew’s, their past 105 years history will continue in Mulgrave’s future and for Mulgrave, their history now includes a rich legacy from St. Andrew’s.
At the service I witnessed a real act of ‘space for grace’ as these two communities united to become an integral part of each other’s stories.