Australia church re-frames focus to impact local community
The Inala Church of the Nazarene was a small congregation of around 15 people in 2016. Many were commuters living outside of the local community, which had become indifferent to the church’s presence and the saving grace experienced within. The church and its members did not give up, however, and renewed their commitment to demonstrating love.
The church is now a vibrant and relevant reflection of the local community’s multicultural dynamic. Today, it demonstrates a unique glimpse of God’s Kingdom’s promise with people worshipping together from several nations and languages. The church’s transformation took shape as its 50th anniversary approached. The church changed its name to Place of Peace Church of Nazarene (Inala means place of peace in the aboriginal language). This action symbolized embracing a pursuit of sanctified existence in the right relationship with God and others. They also adopted a new mission statement: “Embracing and empowering all people with hope, worth, and peace.”
The church is committed to praying as it begins to engage in the community. A group mowed lawns, collected rubbish, washed cars, shared food and clothes, and hosted community BBQs and Christmas celebrations. The church also extended its fellowship to the community without expecting anything in return. They built bridges with neighboring schools and local community service organizations, which led to opportunities that impact the lives of the students, staff, and surrounding community. The neighbors took notice and began to build relationships with the members, and the local community started to become a part of the church.
One Sunday morning, a recently resettled refugee from The Democratic Republic of Congo walked in. He spoke very little English. While the church did not know his language or culture, they simply embraced him with the communal hospitality of God’s love. Different cultures began learning from each other as more resettled African refugees made Place of Peace their home.
After overcoming the barriers of language and culture, the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges for Place of Peace. However, the church saw this as a new opportunity to show God’s love in creative ways. When Holy Week activities were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the church delivered palm fronds to congregants’ homes and encouraged them to celebrate together during the live stream. Each morning of Holy Week, the church brought the Easter message to local individual households by delivering a surprise egg with a message inside.
Postcards offering help with shopping or a friendly listener to call were delivered as restrictions continued. The church hopes to share God’s loving presence in creative ways throughout the challenging year. As worship gatherings slowly returned to normal, the church has seen new faces from more nations, including Papua New Guinea and Brazil.
“[We are] embracing our identity as a Place of Peace where God’s love and renewed expressions of hope, worth, and peace can be experienced amongst every nation and tongue,” said Jade Chapman, co-lead pastor. “We have experienced the biblical truth of God’s conquering love.”