For moderator Sharon Hollis the dedication of the Airport West Uniting Church was something of a homecoming.
Ms Hollis grew up attending the church that was previously on the site but it’s unlikely she ever entered that building in such an emphatic fashion as she did the new one.
Following an introductory prayer and acknowledgment of the First Peoples Ms Hollis ceremonially knocked on the doors three times before declaring them open.Later she unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.
“May this new suite of buildings be a sign to you of God’s goodness, a source of blessing to you and this community of Airport West and beyond,” Ms Hollis said during her address to the approximately 280 in attendance, one of whom was her mother.
The service included the induction of a new minister for the congregation Rev Judy Rigby.
Rev Bruce Watson performed the induction service along with congregational representatives.
Ms Rigby said she was returning to ministry after a period away from it and had found that God had a great surprise for her.
“I love being back in the church,” Ms Rigby said.
“People respond positively to my ministry. I’ve still got gifts to share and something to say.”
Construction on the new church began in April last year.
The project came out of the 2011 amalgamation of the St Mark’s Keilor East, St Philip’s Airport West and Avondale Heights congregations. The Keilor East site was sold and the proceeds used to build the new Airport West church, with the previous worship centre being demolished.
“The new building is designed to facilitate regeneration strategies, including alternative worship styles and to provide more opportunities for interaction with the local community,” Airport West church council chair Ken Baker said.
The congregation already runs a number of outreach programs such as Creative Living, Chat and Chew, Men’s Fellowship, Cancer Support and Friendship Groups.
As planning and construction went ahead new mission ideas emerged such as a cafe centre.
“The congregation looks forward to welcoming new members and meeting the needs of people within its community, with great excitement and thanksgiving,” Mr Baker said.
“The building has been designed so that it can be extended. It would be wonderful if that extension became necessary.”
The weekend after the opening service Airport West hosted a community open day with a free sausage sizzle and children’s activities.