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While our hearts are at home

On Monday my daughter will turn sixteen—a milestone when, to use her words, she will become ‘old enough that I’m not just an annoying teenager anymore’.

She had plans to spend time with friends, to sleepover at the Zoo and to book the test to get her car learner permit. Plans that have all been shelved for the foreseeable future, along with her plans for doing work experience, going on a mission trip to Thailand and a multitude of other things. Instead, for her sixteenth birthday she will go to school remotely, talk with her friends online and eat her way through a birthday cake that is far too big for just the four of us to finish in one day.

If I think for too long about the opportunities that both of my daughters have lost due to the COVID-19 restrictions, I become so sad that it begins to physically hurt. But then I take encouragement from what my almost-sixteen-year-old daughter said at the time that events starting slipping away from her.

‘So I guess this is not in God’s plan for me.’

When crisis strikes she defaults to faith. To a belief that there is something bigger at hand than any plans we make for ourselves. That nothing in the future can really be lost if it was never in God’s plan for us in the first place.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ And sometimes those good works are not the things that we have on our To Do List or our calendar. Sometimes, when the future is uncertain, we can only discover the good works prepared for us in advance on a day-to-day basis.

It helps to remember that God doesn’t need us to leave our homes to find his peace and ways to reach out to others. He doesn’t need the economy to be open to fill us with his love and direct us along his path. God promises us in the book of Romans that that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation – including a virus of pandemic proportions – will be able to separate us from his love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’m looking forward to my daughter’s sixteenth birthday on Monday. Because Stage 3 restrictions won’t stop our Father from being in our hearts and our home as we celebrate the life of his child together.

– Kirrily

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Additional Note
What We Believe

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.

We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; those that are saved into the resurrection of life and those that are unsaved into the resurrection of damnation.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our History

In recognition of the tremendous growth forecast for the Plenty Valley, Bishop Stephen Hale set up a Taskforce in 2007 to investigate the possibility of establishing a new Anglican community in the area. With representation from local churches and Ivanhoe Grammar School, this Taskforce developed a plan that included the need for a point person to further the work. In response to this, two years ago St John’s Diamond Creek took a great step of faith by employing a staff member to not only serve its own congregation but to focus on establishing a new parish for Mernda. Craig spent his first year getting to know the area, building relationships and discerning what God was already up to in His mission of reaching residents and retailers with His love. Throughout the following year a core team began to form around a vision that arose again and again through prayer, of a red gum taking root in the heart of Mernda and growing while the roots reached out to every corner of the community. This vision of being organic church integrally connected to local community found a means of expression through the “Sheffield Model”, which was first developed by St Thomas’s in Sheffield (UK) nearly 15 years ago.

With a focus on “missional communities” the Sheffield model emphasises the need for Christians to meet with people in their own world rather than expecting them to enter ours. After spending time with the staff of St Thomas’s, Craig and the team began work on adapting the model for our own local context and subsequently launched two playgroups in the second half of 2010. A missional community has also begun forming around crafts and the creative arts which runs a stall at the Laurimar market to raise money for various causes. Three preview services were also held as God continued to draw people into the Plentylife community.

We now launch with a much clearer vision of who God wants us to be, a five-strong leadership team with responsibilities for missional communities, youth, families, and administration, and leadership for three missional communities focused on families, crafts and the creative arts and the outdoor life. And it’s true that we wouldn’t be at this point today if it wasn’t for the generous support of the Diocese, St Johns and other supporting churches! So now together we look forward to what else God might have in store for us according to His grace.