After waiting for months to learn the fate of their places of worship, Anglican parishioners in Weston, Millfied and Mount Vincent can breathe a sigh of relief.
All three churches were informed, by the Diocese of Newcastle, last Friday that their centers would remain open after they were flagged for closure and sale to generate funds to meet redress for survivors of childhood abuse within the church.
Reverend Dr Theresa Angert-Quilter who oversees the churches at Kurri, Mount Vincent and Weston, said she was delighted with the news.
“As the Rector, I am just thrilled that all three churches [Kurri, Mount Vincent and Weston] can remain open and to continue to grow as they have been.
“As churches, we have been growing steadily. From 2016 to 2017 they have all increased in financial base and number purses – from 2017 to 2018 again, all three churches have increased in financial base and numbers and in the number of programs that serve the community.
The flagged churches were asked to provide detailed submissions to the Diocese detailing why their centres should remain open and what plans they had for the future.
Reverend Angert-Quilter added that there will be some negotiation with the Diocese over the coming months about what is expected of the churches, but for now, it’s just business as usual.
“We will simply continue because we are on a roll,” she said.
Aside from the usual services and community outreach programs such as the ever popular St Mary’s Op Shop at Weston, Kurri will now hold a Sunday service from 10am, St Mary’s at Weston will hold a family-friendly picnic church in it’s beautifully maintained grounds and Christ Church Mount Vincent will add more family friendly activities it its calendar.
The Parish will also temporarily expand its services in to neighboring Gillieston Heights.
“We will have a church service now in Gillieston Heights which is actually part of the parish of Maitland but the parish council has met and given us their full blessing to go there and to have church services,” Mother Theresa said.
Rector for the Cessnock Parish, which encompasses St John’s at Cessnock and St Luke’s at Millfield, Reverend Michelle Hazel-Jawhary said that she and the parishioners were overjoyed with the news.
“I let them know at St Luke’s on Sunday and everybody was so happy,’ she said.
Reverend Hazel-Jawhary said that much of the submission to the diocese was about how to rebuild and reinvigorate the parish community at Millfield.
“We aare hoping to engage more with the Millfield community to make sure St Luke’s is viable for the future,’ she said.
“We are also hoping to connect with the whole of Cessnock, and because Millfield is a little out of town, it is about strengthening those relationships with the whole community.
Reverend Hazel-Jawhary added that the church would be looking to address issues of isolation and depression as well as engaging the community through such things as social action and support of Aboriginal communities as well as offering the hall that sits at the back of the church for wider community use.
“We want people to know that we are not just here for weddings, baptisms and funerals but for all facets of life,” Reverend Hazel-Jawhary said. “It’s about flourishing by grace and I am so grateful that the Diocese afforded us the opportunity to look at how we can better serve our communities.”
It is expected that progress across all three sites will be reviewed in three years and Bishop Of Newcastle Peter Stuart said that there would be much work done over that time-frame.
“People will see the Anglican Church working very hard over the next three years to consolidates its work. There is a strong resolve by Anglicans to make a positive difference to the communities they serve.”