Here’s an excerpt from our interview with South Sydney Uniting, whose leader Andrew Collis and his team, build their health and vitality through initiatives such as this.

Read the conversation below.

NCLS: What do you think has contributed to the flourishing of this church?

AC: The flourishing is the history, the kind of leadership, the outward focused leadership of people. Since 2016, our church council has more than doubled in size. So, there are 16 elders at the moment and they are representative very much of the wider community. There’s Uniting Chaplain, there’s housing tenants, there’s health workers.

NCLS: So, just go back a step and describe… How many people would be in an average Sunday worship gathering?

AC: 30 or so.

NCLS: And how many would you describe as on the rolls, or those who see this place as their home?

AC: 200. So, the round numbers would be like 250 or so confirmed members, 30 or so on a given Sunday. So, you’ve got a number of adherents and you’ve got a number of baptised and not confirmed. You’ve got a small number of members in association. And of those adherents, which is quite a big number, a significant number of those people connect through, say, the South Sydney Herald as volunteers, or the arts programme, the community garden, or come to Bible studies.

NCLS: Talk me through this, because to have this many elders will bring us back to the conversation about leadership. You’ve named the way that leaders lead as a key feature of why this is flourishing and that diversity, so I’d love to hear more about that.

AC: I’ll add just a couple more numbers. Just to help with those numbers. So, you’ve got that 200. There are 80 volunteers at any given time for the South Sydney Herald, so that already starts to add up why there are a number of people who would say, yes, this is my church. And this is what I believe in. This is the identity, spirituality, the work, and I exercise that here, I practice my faith here.

The arts programme is twice monthly art classes and then six to eight exhibitions in our orchard gallery, which is this part of the church here. That would see 30 to 40 people for art openings, 10 to 12 people whenever there’s an art class. The other one that is numbers significant would be a twice weekly crisis accommodation service. It’s a partnership with Cana Communities, which is a local Catholic group and they have more than 40 volunteers, some members of our congregation and other adherents who enable that programme to work well.

That’s in our hall Wednesday and Thursday night. So, adherents would be through here, adherents through the South Sydney Herald and adherents through the arts.

There are six working groups. I would say succinctly six working groups and three formation groups. So, the formation groups are like our spirituality education kind of groups that we encourage elders and others to be part of. 

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