Over 200 services in more than
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Trevor Mears founded the Church of the Outback (also known as the Outback Church of Christ, Phone Fellowship or Phone Church). After receiving his pilot’s licence (from renowned outback artist Pro Hart, no less), he started travelling around the outback and realised that there was “a great need for consistent pastoral support for isolated Christians.”
In 1980, he left his ministering position in Broken Hill to minister with the Dalby, Queensland Church of Christ, where he agreed to deliver a flying ministry to isolated Christians.
“In 1986, after many flying trips to the outback communities, I finished ministry with the Dalby Church and established a faith ministry, Outback-Christians-in-Ministry,” Trevor said.
While listening to a radio broadcast about the new Telecom conference call service, Trevor realised that this could be the way in which isolated Christians could get together on a regular basis and minister to one another, reducing the need for his resource-hungry plane visits. In 1987 a fortnightly church service via conference call commenced. In 1991, the outback ministry became affiliated with Churches of Christ in Queensland, and found itself with a new moniker.
“As word spread, up to five services were being held each Sunday, with up to 60 people in some services.”
Today, the Church of the Outback continues to provide the opportunity for people to be able to connect spiritually and to know that they are cared for through a weekly telephone conference call, with Pastor Alan Frankham at the helm.
“We currently have two congregations who meet on a Sunday; the first group do all the normal things than you would encounter attending a local church – except via the phone,” Alan said.
“The second group is where the truths of the Bible are considered in a discussion group, just as though participants were sitting around in a lounge room together.”
The church went one step further in 2016 by extending care for one another from a telephone call to face-to-face pastoral visits with people in remote locations.
“Church of the Outback is led by people who know what it is like to live remotely and experience the issues of educating their children when distance separates these families from many facilities enjoyed by families in the city,” he said.