With Manningham Uniting Church beginning the next phase of a bold plan to secure its future it was fitting some of the youngest congregation members were on hand to help.
Even Oliver, aged four, donned a yellow safety helmet and hi-vis vest as he pushed on one of the many shovel enthusiastically wielded by those attending the 2 August sod-turning ceremony to symbolically break ground for construction of Manningham’s community and worship centre in Templestowe.
The $8 million facility will be the centre of ministry and worship for Manningham Uniting Church, but will also be a place of community engagement and enrichment, with a street-facing café, playground, shared workplaces, commercial kitchen, large function rooms and an auditorium for hire.
“This church building project is happening not because we want super-duper new offices, not because we want a state-of-the-art worship space, although that would be very nice, but so we can offer hospitality and welcome to our community,” Manningham Uniting Church minister Claire Dawe told those at the ceremony.
“Whether it’s for playgroup and support for parents, for older people who are socially isolated and yearn for conversation, whether it’s someone who is seeking practical or emotional support at a particular time in their life, or whether it’s somebody who is moved to act in the social justice arena and do something positive for others.
“Our hope and our prayer is that all will find space and welcome in what will be to us a spiritual place of faith and to others will be what they need at that particular time in their lives.”
Yarra Yarra Presbytery Minister Dan Wootton was given the job of wielding the first shovel in the Shared Garden space.
“The important thing to remember about this project is that it’s come about by way of voluntary amalgamation of four separate congregations,” he said.