By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator
The congregation at Caloundra Uniting Church is helping members of their community through initiatives designed to reach the most vulnerable. Pastor Steven Fincham was on hand to discuss the projects that have redefined his congregation’s sense of identity, community involvement, and a renewed focus on spirituality.
According to Sunshine Coast Council, there are over 1200 people who are homeless, although Pastor Steven believes that is a conservative estimate. Many live in vehicles or sleep rough, in temporary shelters, overcrowded spaces, or with family and friends. They generally lack control over their living situation, so Pastor Steven said the church wanted to find new ways to help. “We serve up to 45 people breakfast every Monday, and because they were here, it became an opportunity for us to help them fill in forms for housing applications,” he said. “We even turn up to meetings with them for support.”
The breakfast program now also runs on Fridays. Pastor Steven said he was encouraged to report that five people from the breakfast gathering are now part of the church’s Sunday congregation, although the church aimed to be more than a worship destination. “Our whole ‘life of the church’ is more than who we can get to come along to worship. We aim to demonstrate the spirit of Christ in all of our operations across the week.”
In response to a need within the community, Caloundra Uniting, the community centre, and Orange Sky have come together in collaboration. Furthermore, the ‘Uniforms 4 Kids’ program, which transforms old service uniforms into clothes for disadvantaged children, meets every second and fourth Thursday of the month. “These types of programs foster a supportive community environment, offering services many of us often overlook,” Pastor Steven said. “The participants of ‘Uniforms 4 Kids’ can mutually support each other, employing their sewing skills to help those less fortunate.”
‘This is my story’ is a part of Sunday worship, and Pastor Steven said the congregation inspire each other and shares good news stories. “It’s an opportunity to understand what work is happening and how it relates to our mission. Our congregation must feel they can be a part of all the activities and outreach happening.” An example is the art group, which has become a key initiative for fundraising. “It’s a space where people are invited to share in fellowship and just be with one another, and over the past three years, the art group has raised over $10,000 for the community.”
Pastor Steven hopes Caloundra UC and the broader church will continue to grasp its true identity. “Regardless of age, we are a missional and serving-hearted people,” he said. “My prayer for the future is that we take that identity, and through helping the vulnerable and striving to grow our Christian community, we ask God for guidance to be authentically true to that identity.”