Firstly, let’s start with who Berkeley Vale Church of Christ is as a church and in your community…
Anyone who visits BVCoC always comments on the friendliness and genuine interest our church shows towards others. It is a very close family with sincere concern for one another and our guests. This friendliness and care for others is driven by our very simple vision. If you were to ask anyone in our church what we are about, their reply would be “Knowing Christ and making Him known”.
In our Community, BVCoC is currently best known for Noah’s Ark. Noah’s is highly regarded as one of the best childcare centres in the area because we are focused on the children – not money.
Our focus on Christian education and connecting with families is well known throughout the community. This has been achieved through outstanding staff and highly dedicated volunteers who are tremendously caring.
You have been a Pastor at Berkeley Vale Church of Christ for 3 years now, what are some of the encouraging things that have happened during that time?
The most encouraging thing is that the preschool we operate (Noah’s Ark Care and Learning Centre) is now broadly recognised as a positive ministry of our church; it used to be considered as a separate business.
This shift in perspective has meant that people from our church now participate in preschool activities and people from the preschool have been more engaged with our church. We have even had parents volunteer in areas where they have particular skillsets, for example, landscaping, audio/visual, marketing and fundraising.
To further strengthen the connection between the Preschool and our Church, God blessed us with a bus. This was provided by The River Community Church in Albury. We have decorated it and use it to pick up the children of Noah’s Ark. Volunteer church members and a teacher from the preschool operate this ministry which is enabling us to connect with the families of the children at their homes (where they are more comfortable) and develop some great friendships.
Also encouraging, is that we have partnered with Central Coast Outreach Services to provide furniture, food hampers and counseling assistance to people in our community. Our church members have distributed up to 20 food hampers in a month. This has provided us with many opportunities to develop relationships with the community and listen to their stories. We have developed enough trust to share the Gospel with these families and encourage them to accept Christ.
It’s so encouraging to hear these stories of new relationships and strengthened connections. What have been some of the ways you have seen the lives of people within your community transformed because of this stronger engagement?
We have seen some amazing transformations in our community.
Probably the biggest transformations have actually been within our little church community – we have seen people change from knowing the Bible, to people in relationship with God.
For many in the church, the community of the preschool has opened them to develop some great relationships across generations. Church members in their 80’s and 90’s are engaging with 2 and 3 year olds. Many of them would only get the chance to share time with children this young on special occasions when their grandchildren or great grandchildren visit.
We have also seen people who had preconceived ideas of the church, despite never attending one, come and worship and ask us to teach them more about Jesus.
We have seen one person with drug dependencies turn their life around and give their life to Christ. This person is growing in Christ, settling into a job and helping in any way they can at Church.
Do you have any advice or ‘words of wisdom’ that you can offer to other pastors?
I am not really qualified to be offering advice or words of wisdom to anyone – I’m still only a baby in terms of ministry.
There are two things that I have learned myself, more than anything else, and that is to trust God and love His children.
As someone who comes from a corporate background, I have found it really difficult to step back & let go (try not to manage things.) It’s when I let go that God reveals the most amazing things.
I remember laughing when God placed it on my heart that we needed a bus. Only 2 weeks later, I was at the Fresh Hope AGM chatting with Graeme van Brummelen and discovered they had a bus they weren’t using – the bus was the catalyst that solidified the connection between the church and the preschool.
As a pastor, it’s important to take care of your own spiritual walk, what are 3 key things that you find important personally in your role?
> Being mentored
> Mentoring someone else
> Taking part in Renewal Groups.
How do the next 12 months look for Berkeley Vale Church of Christ?
In the next 12 months we will continue to invest time and effort into strengthening the connections built with our community.
We’re enrolled in the Work for the Dole program and we have several projects running that have long term unemployed people working around the church. Church members are providing morning tea each day they are working and we have a prayer roster so that the program is wrapped in prayer each day. It’s exciting to see how God will develop this further over the next 12 months.
Noah’s Ark will continue to be a focus for our church. Our pre-school Director is currently studying with ACOM and the goal is to appoint her as the Children’s Pastor. She has already commenced a new children’s ministry, CLICK (Children Learning in Christ’s Kingdom), which is rapidly growing already, having only started a few weeks ago.
Our Student Pastor, Graeme Howarth, has completed his first year towards his Bachelor of Ministry and will start preaching this year. He is also working towards establishing his own ministry in the form of a Café.
Lastly, I am now working with Steve Smith, Richard Reeve and Cathy Kleemann in building Mt. Druitt Church of Christ Care and Learning Centre into a ministry similar to our Noah’s Ark. Everyone at BVCoC is praying daily for the staff and preschool there at Mt. Druitt and we are excited by the way God is working there.
Thanks for your time David, just one last question, what does it mean to you to be part of the Fresh Hope family?
You answered that in your question… Family!
The Fresh Hope tribe is family. There is a true sense of love for one another. There is genuine concern for each other. There is accountability to one another. The Fresh Hope Family models the Kingdom of God in our family.