Multigenerational ministry at Bulimba Uniting Church is ensuring a healthy and engaged congregation at one of Brisbane’s oldest churches. Dianne Jensen reports.
The beautiful white timber Uniting Church at the roundabout leading to Bulimba village is an easy Brisbane landmark to spot.
This venerable church, which has served the community since 1866, is home to a small but thriving congregation committed to multigenerational ministry. And as minister Rev Beatriz Skippen points out, “multigeneration” in Bulimba means generations of families as well as a mix of different ages.
“That’s part of the culture of the Bulimba community—they go to local schools, they support each other, they know each other,” she says. “There’s a wide age range of participation in worship and church activities. You will see parents and children playing instruments or leading worship.”
Beatriz is passionate about supporting churches to build sustainable multigenerational congregations where leadership, stewardship and worship are shared.
“It’s an opportunity to focus in the present in order to have a future. One of the characteristics of Bulimba is to create opportunities for children and adults to flourish, to take risks, to learn together. It’s about discerning God’s voice and listening to his whisper, regardless of age or worship style.”
In this historic suburb family roots go deep, such as church council member Gary Lynch who attends with wife Janelle and sons Andrew and Benjamin.
“Our family is currently the sixth generation to attend this church, descending from the Blyth and Thomas families,” he says. “For me it’s important to have multigenerational ministry and there are some families with three generations attending. It adds to the diversity of the congregation.”
For the Lynch family the link is more than just historical.
“We attend this church as it is an integral part of the community and even though some of the community do not attend the church they still refer to Bulimba Uniting Church as ‘our church’. Although a small church, everybody knows each other and is always there to assist each other.”
University student Alexa Harding has been attending the church with her family for as long as she can remember. She plays violin at worship and is one of two young women who are church council members.
“When you come to Bulimba, you can immediately see the diversity of ages and cultures in the congregation. There are lots of families with young children, but also many people who have been attending for decades,” says Alexa.
“I have been on the church council since the beginning of 2018. To me, this was a great opportunity to give back to the church community which has been so supportive of me over the years.”
One of the youngest church members is five-year-old London Lakidis, who plays his ukulele in the band—among other activities.
“I love playing in the band and going to Kids’ Church,” says London. “I like seeing my friends and I love to help out in church collecting the offering.”
His mother Caitlin describes Bulimba as “truly a family church”, where generations are connected and enjoy worshipping together.
“The children are included in all aspects of church life and are always made to feel special by Rev Bea and the congregation. This has led our children to develop a real sense of belonging at Bulimba, which I believe is instrumental in keeping them connected to God as they grow.”