“Our passion is to help restore dignity in the lives of clients of Centennial Lodge who may feel that no-one cares,” says senior pastor Stewart Moncrieff, who heads Freshwater Church in Cairns.
“And,” he says, “we really hope that rather than lead people just to Freshwater Church, or to the Salvos, it leads them to a deeper understanding that God cares.”
Part of an ever-growing range of Salvation Army inter-church partnerships, Freshwater Church (which has flourished in Cairns for 90 years) and Freshwater Christian College (established 35 years ago and currently schooling 600 students) have provided gardening equipment, paint, and substantial manpower for working bees to help beautify the grounds of The Salvation Army Centennial Lodge emergency accommodation.
Teams from Freshwater have—to date—completely renovated one room, plus carried out many more small building and renovation jobs. They have also prayed for the service and clients and stayed connected to a number of clients who found secure accommodation locally. The church has also supported the Red Shield appeal and other Salvos fundraisers.
The relationship grew out of regular meetings between previous Cairns Corps officer Captain Darren Kingston and Stewart. They met at combined churches meetings, and Stewart was asked to join the strategic team of the local Salvation Army hub as an independent voice, and also offer prayer support.
In turn, Darren was invited to preach, as well as talk about Salvation Army services, fundraising initiatives and more at Freshwater.
“I see partnerships as very positive with different churches and groups playing to their strengths. It is an extension of the concept of hubs—using the resources and skills for the best outcome for the largest number of people in a community,” says Darren.
“We really appreciate what Freshwater has been able to help us with, so that we can help people within the Lodge who are most hurting. Freshwater is not only working to beautify the service which shows people they are cared for; but their aftercare and their prayer support has also been an enormous blessing.”
According to Stewart, as well as building unity in the body of Christ, such partnerships make sense economically.
“We are actually ‘silent’ partners in a range of programs, including Centennial and also the local street chaplains,” he says. “RE in local schools, local indigenous work, education support, feeding programs, and also many more care programs in the City of Cairns and beyond.
“A lot of churches want to start programs at a big cost and no guarantee of longevity, but what we have done is look at existing programs with longevity and success and get behind those programs. It is more affordable for us to get behind a program than create a program. That in turn enhances the program that is already running.
“I think every church needs an outward expression of love, and this is one of ours. It also enables everybody in the church to have the chance to become involved in local ministry. It is not only what God has called us to, but it has also blessed us and it’s fuelled us to do more.”