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Rev Harlee Cooper at Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane. Photo: Holly Jewell

Between a rock and a hard place: faith in the city

A parishioner’s generous legacy is helping transform the vision for a new covenantal community into reality at Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church in downtown Brisbane. Dianne Jensen reports. 

Next year heritage-listed Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church will launch Holdfast Saint Andrew’s, a contemporary Christian community rooted in the age-old traditions of covenant, mission and spiritual practice.

The new venture has been made possible thanks to a bequest by long-time member Margaret Green. Her gift of $500 000 will ensure the continuance of witness and mission in this iconic spiritual and cultural hub, complementing existing morning services and bringing new life into the declining congregation.

Holdfast Saint Andrew’s will be spearheaded by Rev Harlee Cooper on partial secondment from Albany Creek Uniting Church in association with Rev Bruce Johnson from Saint Andrew’s.

“It will be a covenantal community, with a commitment to regular worship, to engage within mission, and to personal spiritual practice of Bible reading, prayer and meditation—those traditional spiritual disciplines that have been part of the church for generations,” says Bruce.

“We want to challenge the church shopping mentality, ‘I come along while this attracts me and entertains me and satisfies me’ … Holdfast is about building community where people are valued, where the covenant is about a commitment to others.”

Harlee says that the ministry initiative is aimed at those exploring faith or on the verge of drifting away from the church because they are uncomfortable about expressing doubts or questions.

“Sometimes it’s hard for people to buy in 100 per cent intellectually to faith, whether it’s miracle stories or understanding atonement—it’s pretty out there, if we are honest!” says Harlee.

“I often think the biggest step of faith is not believing that there was a person named Jesus who rose from the dead, but believing that grace, peace and humility are actually the better way to live in a world that says that’s not how you get ahead in life.

“We want to invite people to enter into a space where perhaps the first act of faith is to start seeking to live the way of Christ. Hopefully as we participate in the rhythms of worship and community, some of that other stuff starts to make sense.”

Raushen Perera, Synod chief fundraising and marketing officer, says that Holdfast Saint Andrews is an example of how a bequest or gift in a Will can help shape the future of the church.

“This gift by Margaret Green is a true reflection of her deep love of the church—of the values she treasured and the faith which sustained her. If we consider our own legacy of faith and give the gift of a lifetime, who knows how church will be reimagined in the future?”

For more on how you can give the gift of a lifetime and make a real difference please click here

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