Burleigh Heads Uniting Church is known locally as 'the church on the hill' and is situated on the outskirts of the busy Gold Coast region. Tara Burton spoke to co-founder of the Burleigh Heads Never Alone Friendship Centre, Neville Free.
Who makes up your congregation?
Burleigh Heads Uniting Church is a worshipping and caring congregation of 260 members.
It is fair to say that we have a congregation of mature-aged people who are young in mind and heart.
As tourism is a big part of the local economy, we have visitors at each service from all around Australia and from different parts of the globe.
We are entering into a partnership agreement with the Tallebudgera Uniting Church which although in the early stages will no doubt lead to two strong congregations.
How are you enriching your community?
In recent years and under the ministry of Rev Colin Batt, who is also police chaplain for the Tweed District, the church has striven to reach out to the community.
Leading this is the Never Alone Friendship Centre which began in September 2010.
This ministry aims to reach lonely and isolated people in the community.
From a humble beginning of 12 guests, we now have 53 people registered, along with 27 volunteers.
Each Christmas the centre provides Christmas Day lunch for those in the community who would otherwise spend it alone.
Last Christmas we catered for 212 people including 70 volunteers.
We have assisted our sister churches at Nerang and Southport to open similar programs.
Because of our location and the transience of society, we have a heavy call to support homeless and needy people and those who are not coping with life.
Four members of our congregation have been presented with Community Service Awards honouring their commitment to the local community.
What is your vision for the future?
We have adopted the Synod's Together on the way, enriching community plan, and are working towards where we will be in 2020.
We want to see a vital and re-invigorated church, serving Christ and the community of all ages.
We are in the process of assessing the needs of our locality, and planning to build a service that will meet these needs with professional and suitably trained staff.
We are looking at attracting young families and youth through the Family@5 program. This is a new initiative aimed at offering an alternative worship service to cater for those who require a late afternoon family service rather than the traditional morning service. The afternoon includes a spiritual message, family fun and a barbecue.
· population 9188, 52.2 per cent female
· average age 40 years
· a mix of holiday apartments, permanent rental accommodation and private residential blocks, including the Burleigh Cove Community
· five aged-care/retirement facilities.
· to be faithful to the call of our Lord, both within the congregation and the wider community
· to create a caring community in Christ.
· RE ministry to three schools
· support for school chaplaincy
· community chaplain
· programs include indoor bowls, walking group, Art Attack, and the Never Alone Friendship Centre
· volunteers assist with on-site playgroups.
· Website: burleighheadsuniting.com.