The Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW (PCNSW) is part of Christ’s wider universal Church throughout the world.
We are Protestant, Evangelical and Reformed.
We believe that there is One God who is the Creator and Judge of the world. In the fullness of time He has revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The umbrella organisation for the 300 Presbyterian churches throughout NSW and the ACT based in Sydney’s Surry Hills, we proclaim the Gospel of God and serve the community through:
• local church congregations and home mission stations,
• theological and Christian education,
• our bi-monthly congregational magazine, The Pulse;
• Nursing Homes, Hostels and other Aged Care Ministries,
• Youth Work, Counselling, Child and Family Services,
• University Work and Chaplains,
• Presbyterian Women’s Association;
• and other specific ministries.
By John McClean
Mission is one of the highlights of the year at the Presbyterian Theological College. It happens in the middle of first semester each year when teams spread out to visit churches in NSW (and beyond) and involves two Sundays and a week of activities in between.
Students usually stay in the homes of church members as well as sharing in church life and work for a week. Mission is a great chance for students to get to know a church and have a look at ministry in a different context, as well as a time to work together as a team and help churches in their mission.
This year PTC sent teams to Kirkplace in Kogarah, to Taree and Gunnedah in country NSW and to the St John’s Church and Mount Stuart Church in Hobart.
Kirkplace is a young and vibrant church which provided students a great opportunity to learn from a progressive ministry team. The team was very appreciative of the efforts by volunteer pastor Steve Fattal to facilitate the mission experience.
It is served by a large number of dedicated staff who work in specialised roles and students were able to learn from and interact with each staff member during the week. Lead pastor Steve Chong led a session that helped students think about their own gifts and encouraged them to shape their service around the people God has made them.
The team taught SRE to high school students at James Cook Boys High. Students were also involved with the kids’ church program at Kirkplace on the second Sunday. During the week they shared in prayer meetings, Bible studies, and worship services. It was great to see students growing in their fellowship with one another and forming lasting friendships with many members of this passionate church.
Eleven fired up students travelled to Taree, a town of 20,000, to share ‘Good News Week’ with the Taree Church. The program was a balance of time to prepare and activities in which the team served with people from the church. Taree Church is heavily involved with primary school Scripture, so there were many opportunities to lead lessons.
Mission is a great opportunity to try new things, and Taree church let students get involved in the whole range of church life. Students were involved in preaching, music, seniors’ service, home visitations throughout the week, scripture, men’s ministry, and Bible studies.
Through the week the team shared the good news with people from the church as well as enjoying warm hospitality.The team was warmly welcomed by Paul Harris, the Minister at Taree Church who organised the mission program for the week and generously gave much of his time to working with the team.The team was encouraged as Paul shared his approach to ministry in regional NSW. Paul’s emphasis on training church members for ministry, and his willingness to try a range of different approaches to sharing the gospel provided an inspiring model.
Gunnedah is a rural town of about 8000 residents, six hours’ drive north west of Sydney.
The 12 students on the team were challenged, stretched and encouraged as they participated in church services, kids’ clubs, nursing home visitations, Bible studies and high school scripture. Lyle Sims, the minister of Gunnedah Church, provided the team with a wide range of Gospel ministry opportunities and set the team a wonderful example of servant leadership.
For some of the team this was their first visit to an Australian country town. Some had never given talks or testimonies to large groups of people, and it was encouraging for the church and team members to listen and reflect on their presentations. Some had never coordinated large events such as a church service, scripture or kids’ club, and these provided a challenging experience.
Theteamwasencouragedbythehospitalityand love of the church community.They were accepted immediately into the church community and participated in Bible studies, services and dinner events across the week (and were very well fed). The team enjoyed a warm welcome into the homes of their hosts, a farm tour and a chance to go horse riding. Most importantly, they gained valuable insights into gospel ministry in a country town.
At the kids’ clubs on Wednesday and Friday at least 10 kids heard the Gospel and learnt a story about Jesus to share with friends and family. Several people who were contacted during the week came along to church for the final Sunday service.
Eleven students travelled to the beautiful city of Hobart.They enjoyed great coffee,delicious apples and no traffic; but the best part of the trip was to see what God is doing through churches like St John’s and Mount Stuart.
Each team member had an opportunity to serve in some way. Some were assigned to preach, some gave testimonies, some did the Bible reading, and some gave the kids’ talk. All were stretched with new challenges. The team took part in a ministry at the University of Tasmania, including FOCUS which reaches out to overseas students and regularly sees students coming to faith from non- church backgrounds. They also learnt about the series of church plants of Presbyterian churches in the centre of Hobart.
Students spoke at services at Riverview Nursing Home,at a dessert evening , amen’s dinner and a women’s breakfast; as well as at services at St John’s and Mount Stuart. All the events of the week had a great sense of mutual encouragement. The PTC team heard about what God was doing, met people who had just become Christians and shared the gospel; the churches enjoyed having the students and seeing how God used their gifts.
Each morning the team was treated to a seminar by a minister from the different ministries in Hobart.The seminars ranged from church planting to the importance of rest. Alistair Bain, the minister at St John’s and David Jones, the minister at Mt Stuart were very generous with their time to share their wisdom and experience, often over a great cup of coffee.
PTC vice-principal, John McClean, told the Pulse mission was a valuable time for students to develop skills for ministry and to think about church life in a new context.
He said missions formed new friendships between students and with people they met in the churches.“We are very thankful for the generosity of churches in hosting our teams and letting us share in their life and ministry,”he said.“We deeply appreciate all the effort that goes into mission from the people of the churches and the ministers. It has been wonderful to hear the positive reports of a whole range of experiences this year.”
Is your church interested in hosting a PTC mission in 2014? Contact John McClean email@example.com for details.