When the Moorabbin-Highett churches closed at the end of 2013 and the properties were sold as part of Uniting our future, many of the congregation chose to join neighbouring Hampton. Coincidentally, Rev Tim Angus had been recently inducted, so a conscious effort was made by him and the church council for the newly consolidated congregation to make a fresh start together.
Small touches like using Moorabbin-Highett’s seasonal banners added a sense of familiarity for the newcomers while simultaneously providing a new focus for the existing congregation. Different songs were learned, welcoming lunches and dinners held, but most of the time simple hospitality and individual conversations grew into connections that quickly linked the two groups.
This year one luncheon was themed ‘Timeline’ by the current congregation. Collated by Council Chair Ian Menzies, the shared histories of the area and all earlier founding congregations – some dating back as far as 1905 – were laid out chronologically.
“Congregation members were then invited to add personal contributions via ‘Post It’ notes,” Ian explained.
“Dates such as baptisms, weddings and birthdays were all interwoven into the timeline history of the various congregations that have formed our current fellowship.
“Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian, as well as other denominations, were all represented. Many sanctuaries have been built, some were physically relocated and others became halls as newer replacements were erected alongside. Some burnt down; others were sold and redeveloped, with the most recent being the two Moorabbin-Highett church-and-hall complexes.
“In all, about nine church sites and many manses were featured on the Timeline. Drop In Centres, tennis clubs, Sunday schools and many past and present missional outreach endeavours were also remembered and celebrated, with the ‘Post It’ notes adding personal touches throughout.”
Members from Brighton, Bentleigh, Beaumaris, Black Rock, Sandringham, Hampton, Highett, Moorabbin, and even further afield, all form part of the current Hampton congregation.
Rev Tim Angus was delighted with the interest generated by the timeline.
“It was good to be able to see in the timeline something of the faithfulness of the people of God in this area – the footprints they have left in the sand,” Tim said.
“It enabled us to compare the stories told against our current Mission Statement and the story it encapsulates about who we are being called to be in our time. As people who have come from many congregations, we rejoice in the shared journey that now stretches forward together.”