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Mackay making links

Alan Tangye and Pam Jensen enjoy music ministry at Mackay Uniting Chruch Photo: Ron Kirkpatrick

Northside Uniting Church is located in Mackay, central Queensland, and its sister congregation is Seaforth, in a coastal village. The congregations have strong links with the community. Tara Burton spoke with congregation member Rod Kirkpatrick.

How are you enriching your community?

We play significant roles in local schools, hospitals and nursing homes. Hospital and nursing home visitation, including conducting chapel services, is an important part of our ministry.

We introduced Brekkie Club at Pioneer State High School on Thursday mornings in Term 2 of 2012.

It is aimed at students who may be arriving at school without having eaten that morning.

With the participation of two other churches, Brekkie Club now operates three mornings a week, generally serving between 20 and 30 students.

Each August we hold a community fair, which is our major fundraiser for the year.

Stalls and activities are organised by members of our congregation, as well as by various community groups.

What's happening in your congregation?

Mackay is being transformed from a sugarcane and service town into a multi-faceted region where mining is the dominant source of income. As a result, the congregational demographic suffers most in the area of young families.

Kids' Club on Fridays is down on numbers, yet the older group, U Youth, is doing well.

The 15 young people who attend U Youth come from church and non-church families.

Seaforth Uniting Church, located in a coastal village about 45 minutes' drive north of Mackay, is our second congregation.

Services are held there twice monthly, with our minister, Peter Aay, leading one of those services and a lay preacher the other. Average attendance is 20.

The Anglican members nearby who are selling their Seaforth building should be sharing our Seaforth church soon.

What is your vision for the future?

We have a two-pronged vision that covers both congregation and community.

We don't just have a responsibility to care for people who worship at Northside and Seaforth regularly, but also to reach out to the wider community around us.

Our minister Peter Aay sees a need to revitalise our concept of 'church', learning afresh that church does not exist for its own sake.

"We need to learn how to make disciples; perhaps we need to make 'making disciples' more of a ministry," he says.

Fast facts:

> Mackay is a Central Queensland regional city with a population of over 120 000
> major gateway to the Whitsunday Islands
> median age is 36
> major areas of employment are coal mining, sugar cane, health, education and tourism
> average wage is the highest in the State: 13pc of the region's workers earn more than $2000 a week; 23pc earn between $300 and $599 a week

Mission focus:
> sense of belonging for families
> looking beyond the church
> schools
> the old and the hurting

What's new:
> Brekkie Club at Pioneer State High School
> a rough-hewn cross that gives a new focus to worship services
> U Youth for high schoolers

Social media:
> church website introduced – northsideseaforth.org.au
> special online editions of the newsletter and prayer page are emailed to congregation members and uploaded to the website
> Facebook is just around the corner

Photo : Alan Tangye and Pam Jensen enjoy music ministry at Mackay Uniting Chruch Photo: Ron Kirkpatrick

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