Caption: Staff and children at the New Day Kids Early Learning Centre, Wollongong NSW

 

By Josh Gibbon

 

In 2010, the NewDay Church board in Wollongong realised their building was being under utilised during the week, and the church needed another income source. 

As they considered how to solve this issue, board member Chris Keller said, “We asked the question, ‘What can we do to better serve the community?’”

An idea was raised to start an early learning centre that could act as both a connection to the local community and an income stream.

“Our vision anticipated opportunities to build connections with our local community, increase the utilisation of church facilities, and to achieve this in a financially sustainable manner,” Chris said. 

At the time, this was a ‘good idea’, but the church lacked the resources and know-how to get it off the ground. 

However, over a period of seven years, the Property Trust team (led at first by Richard Reeve, and later by James Cartwright) partnered with the NewDay board to get this dream off the ground.

Finally, in 2017, after years of hard work and development, the NewDay Kids Early Learning Centre was launched.

The centre is now licensed to care for 58 children a day and has become a central part of NewDay’s local community ministry. 

“Solid friendships and relationships have been built, which have created opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Financial and in-kind support such as food hampers and supermarket gift vouchers have been provided to families on a couple of occasions,” Chris said. 

In tough times, the centre has been a huge strength to the church, providing an alternate income to keep other ministries afloat. 

“From an occupancy and commercial perspective, NewDay Kids has enjoyed 100 percent enrolments since mid-2019, which enables ongoing repayment of the Property Trust loan and a regular income stream (through rental and license payments) to NewDay Church,” Chris said. 

“This financial security is an immense blessing and alleviated significant financial pressures the church had previously endured.”

The Property Trust as ‘along-siders’

A story like that of the NewDay centre gives an insight into the commitment and heart of the Churches of Christ Property Trust team. 

Steven Martin, chair of the Property Trust, said, “We see the Trust as ‘along-siders’ with churches. We are there with prayerful intention and financial capacity to support what they are doing.

The success of a seven-year project like NewDay Kids hinges on a depth of trust between a church and the Property Trust team, which begins with relationship. 

“When an application comes to the trust, it often comes from relationship,” Steven said. “James (corporate secretary of the Property Trust) is a key part of the relationship we build with churches – he often goes out, meets with pastors and boards and talks about what their needs are and how the trust can help and support.”

James and Steven see discernment as a key task in the Property Trust’s role of stewardship, which is unlike a bank or other financial institution.

“We are here to use what we have to grow the kingdom,” Steven continued. “The first step of discernment for us is – is this a kingdom initiative? Does it help the Church and our churches as a network?”

To this end, James and Steven see the purpose of Property Trust stewardship to be about investing back into Kingdom projects and ministries. 

Steven added, “Loans are not the only way the Trust supports churches financially. For example, most Mission and Ministry grants originate from resources of the Property Trust.

“That is part of our stewardship. We have estate funds under management that can be used for particular purposes, and we are so blessed to be able to return that to our network.”

To contact the Property Trust, please email or phone James Cartwright, Corporate Secretary & Executive Officer – [email protected] or 0437 415 931.

 

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