Love in action

For those in our communities who are doing it tough, access to food, clean clothing and shelter is important. However, too often, this is the extent of our assistance. As we have all experienced in our hardest moments, the knowledge that somebody cares for us can be that crucial factor that helps us regain our spirits. We all want to feel valued, we all need purpose, and this is what Moreton Bay Community Matters is all about.

Every Thursday morning at Rivers Church of Christ, Kallangur, baskets of fresh food await visitors from near and far. The baskets are prepared by volunteers the day before and are all gone within half an
hour of the 10am collection time. Yet, the happy chatter of locals and volunteers continues on for much longer because most of those who come to collect a basket do not come just for the food.

As Pastor Luke Skipper of Rivers Church of Christ explains, the aim of Moreton Bay Community Matters “is to provide holistic care to the community”.

“Often when people show care for the community they see the obvious physical needs [and] the social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs go unmet.

“So we aim to provide a place of belonging, acceptance and value.” Moreton Bay Community Matters began in April 2017 as a coffee meet-up for locals who felt socially isolated. From six volunteers to more than 30, from 40 food baskets donated each Thursday to a record 110, with bi-monthly Meal and Movie nights and a three hundred square metre community garden, the strength and impacts of this not-for-profit community group are being realised across Brisbane.

“We are starting to get referrals from organisations that, historically, churches would refer people to, like the Salvation Army, Encircle and the RSL Advocates,” Pastor Skipper said.

“We’ve even had referrals from hospitals, the police and the local State MP. All of them looking to refer those people and families to a community that really cares.

“We are also looking to partner with other local churches so we can pull more resources together, [and] to be community ministry in the area that all churches are welcome and encouraged to be involved with. Particularly churches that currently do not have community ministry of their own.”

For Dot, who recently moved to Australia from South Africa, Moreton Bay Community Matters is a movement, underpinned and driven by unconditional love.

“You come here and are accepted, no questions asked,” she said.

Dot arrived in Brisbane with her husband and their transition to a new life in a new country became demoralising as they both struggled to find work. As feelings of loneliness and hopelessness overcame her, Dot searched for purpose.

“We worship at the Uniting Church, but I heard about what was going on [at Rivers] and I thought, I could volunteer and be part of that.”

With skills in hospitality, Dot is now in charge of organising the morning tea that runs alongside the Rivers Church of Christ food and clothing bank.

Dot said the number of people who come to use the bank and collect food hampers on Thursday mornings “has grown, and we need to get here earlier and earlier”.

We've even had referrals from hospitals, the police and the local State MP. All of them looking to refer those people and families to a community that really cares.

The morning tea set-up, which was once just a few tables and chairs, now sprawls in café-style through the doors of the community hall and out onto the grass.

It is in this café setting that volunteers and Pastor Skipper can get to know the people who come to use the food and clothing bank.

“It’s here that people can easily access me if they wish to talk to a pastor or where their details can be taken by our volunteers for me to follow people up,” said Pastor Skipper.

“Likewise, our bi-monthly Meal and Movie nights are held with the intent for people to feel social inclusion and to provide information about other community service providers in the local area that people can access.

“And our community garden has also been developed with the intent of providing a place where people can regain a sense of purpose and dignity by doing something constructive and positive with their time.”

It is this genuine care – this love in action – that sets Moreton Bay Community Matters apart and draws people in, no matter their religious beliefs.

As Dot has observed, “people come here and they feel love and compassion, and they are drawn to Christ that way”.

“We’re breaking down barriers and it’s incredible.”

For more information about Moreton Bay Community Matters, contact Pastor Skipper at luke.skipper@riverschurch.com, visit facebook.com/mbcmatters or drop into Rivers Church of Christ at
120 Ann Street, Kallangur.

Find out more about the good work the Churches of Christ in Queensland Community is doing in the latest edition of Networking.

Posted December 6, 2017 in Networking blog