Loves going out and about in Canberra and writing about her adventures! Also addicted to coffee, high teas, escape rooms, and dressing up.
Published July 28th 2018
Here I am to worship, but where do I go?
Living as we do in our modern, secular, Western, and very busy society, going to church is usually the last thing we want to do on a Sunday. We'd much rather sleep in, go shopping, have breakfast or a lazy brunch at a café somewhere, walk the dogs, ride the bike, go for a jog, read the Sunday papers, get some gardening done, potter around the house in our pjs, or like me, try to escape from an escape room.
Church is no longer the 'main' Sunday activity for many people as it once was. For one thing, Australia is now a more religiously diverse nation than it was, for example, in 1966 when Christianity was the main religion. For another thing, many of us in 2018 are no longer as religious as our parents and grandparents are/were. In fact, there are many of us who meet our spiritual needs through other ways such as being in nature or practising yoga.
And even for a city like Canberra where 53.1% of the population identified themselves as Christian in the last Census, going to church is not something a lot of Christians regularly, or willingly, do. Except of course at Easter or Christmas when traditional churches in particular see a huge spike in their numbers. In fact, Easter and Christmas (and weddings and funerals too) are usually the only times a lot of us actually turn up to church.
But you'd be surprised. There are in fact many churches across Canberra where thriving, bustling communities exist, and they get pretty good turn outs on Sundays as well. Church may not be popular these days for many Canberrans, but it still plays a very important role in many of our communities, from supporting friendships through women's groups and men's breakfasts, to providing emergency financial and material support to the needy, running op shops and English classes for new Australians, hosting playgroups for parents/carers and their little ones, offering free breakfasts for kids at local primary schools, hosting Christmas Day lunch, and supporting local charities such as Karinya House.
The eight churches featured below are examples of churches in Canberra which I believe do a very good job of reaching out to their communities. If you are a Christian and not happy with the church you are currently at and looking for somewhere else to go to, or if you are a Christian who hasn't found your home church yet, or if you're someone who isn't Christian but looking for a church to meet your spiritual needs, then why not give one of these churches a go this Sunday?
1. St Andrew's, Canberra. As you drive through State Circle towards Parliament House, it's hard not to miss the tall spire and magnificent gothic building that is St Andrew's. Built in the early 1930s and opened in 1934, St Andrew's church belongs to the Presbyterian denomination. The main church is at Forrest but there are two other congregations: at Weston Creek and Belconnen.
At the main church, there are two services conducted each Sunday: a traditional family worship service at 9.30am and the more contemporary Church@5 at 5pm. There is also a midweek service on Wednesdays at 12.45pm, and a monthly Indonesian service, held on the 4th Sunday of the month at 2pm. And once a month, St Andrews hosts a Messy Church where families come together to explore faith through hands on creative crafts, games, sharing a meal together, and celebrating through story, song and prayer.
Children are very welcome at St Andrew's. There is an excellent Sunday School program, youth group, Girls' Brigade, and a play room in the main church where little ones can go to if they feel restless during the services. And every July school holidays, St Andrew's hosts the Holiday Club, a fun, exciting and affordable week-long school holiday program for preschoolers and primary school aged children.
Other ways St Andrew's reaches out to the community include: inviting the community to ring the church bells for Christmas, the annual St Andrew's church fair with proceeds going to the church's outreach services, monthly church tours held on the first Wednesday of each month, collecting baby items and donating them to Karinya House during Missions month, and hospital visits and pastoral care. The Weston Creek church also runs an op shop every Tuesday.
St Andrew's is located at 1 State Circle, Forrest. For more information about St Andrew's, go here.
2. Kippax Uniting Church. Located in Belconnen, Kippax Uniting Church is one of the significant community service agencies in the ACT. The church runs a variety of programs that help people who struggle with issues of low income, housing stress, relationship problems and social disadvantage. These include: emergency financial and material aid such as food hampers, support with bills, warm clothing and bedding; parent education, family counselling, playgroups for parents/carers and their little ones, school holiday activities for primary school aged children, and a Canberra-wide Christmas Gift Appeal & Teenage Gift Appeal.
Kippax Uniting Church has a community garden and holds an annual Winter Arts Fair and Monster Garage Sale two or three times a year for the whole community. The church has social and support groups for young families, young adults, and seniors as well as children's groups. Worship times on Sunday are at 9am and 10.30am.
Kippax Uniting Church is located at the corner of Luke St and Hardwick Crescent, Holt. For more information about Kippax Uniting go here.
3. St John's Anglican Church. The oldest church in Canberra, St John's (consecrated in 1845) dates back to the earliest years of European settlement in the region. Adjacent to the church is the St John's Schoolhouse Museum, which was Canberra's first schoolhouse built in 1845 by Robert Campbell of Duntroon.
Like Kippax, St John's offers a major community service organisation for all of Canberra through St John's Care. St John's Care offers emergency assistance and relief, a community worker to support clients with complex issues, free community lunches on the first Friday of the month, free breakfast for the children of Ainslie Primary School three mornings a week during school terms, a Christmas Day lunch for everyone in the church hall, outreach services for at risk youth, and Telstra vouchers for those having difficulty with their telephone accounts.
St John's Sunday@9.30 is the most popular Sunday service, open to all ages. There is also a special service on Sunday at 6pm, stjohns@6 for those looking for something a little bit different. Whilst open to all, this service is mainly aimed at students and young professionals.
The church has many social and support groups for the community such as Cuppacomalong which is open to everyone and meets for afternoon tea on the fourth Monday of each month, a music class for preschoolers held during school terms, a mums' bible reading group, a meditation group, choir, and the bell ringers who practice ringing the bells of St John's church every Monday evening at 5.30pm.
St John's Church is located at the corner of Constitution Avenue and Anzac Park West, Reid. For more information about St John's, go here.
4. C3 Church, Monash. Located in the Tuggeranong Valley, C3 Church at Monash belongs to the global C3 network of churches that was formerly known as Christian City Church. Services are held on Sundays at 10am and at 4.30pm.
C3 Monash offers a range of social and support groups such as young adult social events, women's gatherings, Friday night youth group, and children's church.
Community outreach includes free hot lunches and food hampers for those in need every fortnight, the Red Frogs street crew which provides a safe stop and listening ear for many young adults out on the town, and a community playgroup during school terms for parents/carers and their little ones.
C3 Church is located at 184 Clive Steele Avenue, Monash. For more information, go here.
5. Mosaic Baptist Church, Belconnen. Mosaic Baptist Church (formerly the Belconnen Baptist Church) has two campuses: at Page, Belconnen, and Mitchell in Gunghalin. At Belconnen, there are four Sunday services, and at Gunghalin, there is a 9.30am Sunday service.
Mosaic offers a number of programs that connect people and the community together such as monthly coffee and chat mornings for women, an annual women's retreat, playgroups for 0-5 year olds and their parents/carers during school terms, father and son camps, the Belconnen Community Men's Shed, men's luncheons, seniors craft group, adult English classes for migrants and new arrivals, pastoral care, and the Another Chance Op shop located at Scullin shopping centre.
Mosaic Baptist church is located at 18 Dallachy Street, Page (Belconnen) and Unit 7/160 Lysaght St, Mitchell (Gungahlin). For more information about Mosaic Baptist Church, go here.
6. Tuggeranong Uniting Church.
Tuggeranong Uniting Church is located in Erindale. The church aims to be a welcoming and accepting community, as well as a voice for a just world and more compassionate society. This is why the church hosts the Rainbow Christian Alliance. The Rainbow Christian Alliance meets monthly and is a safe and supportive space for all LGBTIQ people and allies who wish to explore their relationship with Jesus.
Other ways that the church connects with the community include: a social group, craft group, op shop, Girls' Brigade, community garden, annual church fair, two child care centres (at Kambah and Chisholm) and Karralika, a drug referral centre which aims to help people recover from their addiction and build new patterns for living without drugs.
Tuggeranong Uniting Church has Sunday services at 9.00am and 10.30am. You can find Tuggeranong Uniting Church at Comrie Street, Wanniassa. For more information go here.
7. Canberra Baptist Church. Canberra Baptist Church is located in Kingston. Created in 1929, it was the first Baptist church in Canberra.
Canberra Baptist Church welcomes the participation of all people of all ages to the church community. The church has a wide and diverse range of activities and groups for the community including bushwalks, picnics, bike rides, dinners for parents (with babysitting), craft groups, cooking circles, playgroups, tai chi and yoga classes, men's group, garden club, the annual Church Camp, and Sports Music Art and Drama (SMAD) camp for schoolkids every January. The church also has a community garden open to everyone, and it hosts in conjunction with St Paul's Anglican Church and Wesley Uniting a community centre called the Verandah. The Verandah operates three times a week. People drop in for coffee, tea, snacks, and a chat. Bread, emergency food parcels and clothing is also available.
Canberra Baptist Church offers Sunday services at 9.00am and 10.30am with a children's program held during the 10.30am service during school terms. Canberra Baptist Church is located at 11 Currie Crescent Kingston. For more information about this church, go here.
8. Life Unlimited Church. Life Unlimited Church belongs to the network of Australian Christian Churches (ACC). There are two campuses: the main Belconnen campus at Charnwood, and the city campus at the Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton.
Life Unlimited Church brings the community together in many ways. They hold social events for young adults, get togethers for men, a mums' group, parent education course, and children's programs. They also host Canberra City Care which provides practical help for people experiencing financial hardship. Canberra City Care provides a store that stocks affordable food and other everyday essentials, it also runs an op shop, a harvest garden, and provides affordable computers and technical support to pensioners and low-income earners via the Tech Shed.
Life Unlimited has Sunday services at 9am, 11am and 5.30pm at their Belconnen campus in Charnwood. It also has a 9.30am Sunday service at their city campus at the Palace Electric cinema, New Acton.
Life Unlimited Church is located at 46 Lhotsky Street, Charnwood (Belconnen campus) and Palace Electric Cinema, Phillip Law Street, New Acton (city campus). For more information about Life Unlimited Church, go here.
These days, church may not be the place many of us go to on a Sunday morning-even for those of us who identify as Christians. But as the above eight churches show, churches still have an important place in our society, by bringing people together in worship and friendship, and providing for the disadvantaged and needy in our communities.
So come all ye faithful, reschedule that escape room/lazy breakfast/shopping expedition/bike ride for later, and step through the church's doors this Sunday. It might just be what you've been looking for.
I was very interested to read your post. Are you aware that there are two very active Presbyterian Churches in Canberra as well as St Andrew's. One at Gungahlin ( Minister, Russell Smidt) and another at Tuggeranong ( Minister, Peter Gobbo)