Bridport churches join forces to spread the word

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Photo of the Bridport community church services In the small north-eastern Tasmanian seaside town of Bridport they certainly understand that the Body of Christ is not the domain of just one denomination.

On the first Sunday of each month the local Uniting, Anglican and Presbyterian congregants gather at the Uniting Church for a combined service under the banner of the Bridport Community Church.

For more than eight years it has been an example of Christian unity at its best, with the churches taking it in turns to undertake prayers, lead the service and arrange guest preachers, who often come from outside the district.

A four member planning group meets monthly to organise the service. The service used to rotate between the three churches but for about the last three years it has made its home at the Uniting Church, which has the most suitable building.

The combined service was originally proposed because all three churches struggled with small congregations during the winter, not surprising given the town’s permanent population of about 1300. A combined gathering would allow them to worship and interact with a broader Body of Christ at least monthly.

Uniting Church representative and lay preacher David Jensen said the services had attracted a range of preachers over the years.

“You can approach people to speak because you know there is going to be a reasonable crowd,” he said.

While sometimes the attendance might be around 30 in the depths of winter, during the summer holiday season more than 120 people have squeezed into the church.

Anglican committee member Trevor Banfield said there were some people in the town who only attended the combined gathering.

“I know the Anglican members really enjoy coming once a month,” Mr Banfield said.

“It means you are fellowshipping with others instead of just the same people. After all, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Presbyterian minister Rev Greg Munro said the service was a tangible way to express the truth that “we are all one in Christ” and the theology of the three denominations was quite similar.

Churches of the district are well known for their ecumenism.An annual Christmas Eve service alternates between the Anglican and Uniting Churches and a combined service ties in with the popular North-East Rivers Festival every October.

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