Members of Avondale Memorial church have embraced Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour” in an inspiring way.
With many new families moving to Cooranbong (NSW) amidst a local development boom, the church has come up with a way to connect with them through community welcome baskets.
Church members create and distribute the baskets to new residents of the Watagan estate, many of whom have no ties with the church. Within the welcome baskets are household food items like sugar, salt and other staples.
In groups, the church members have been knocking on doors, forming connections, introducing themselves as members of the local Adventist church and extending a warm welcome to the newcomers.
Associate pastor Leticia Moreno believes this is a practical way of showing Jesus to a community that may otherwise not know Him. “We are not preaching or doing evangelistic campaigns. We are simply doing good,” she shares.
Pastor Moreno says the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. “We have even had people say, ‘We were so touched by this gesture that we will consider going to your church.’
“I also got a phone call from someone who wanted to thank our church for the community welcome basket that they received. I prayed over the phone with him and he said they want to come and visit our church.”
According to Pastor Moreno, the pandemic has left many people in the community feeling disconnected. “Many have expressed that they don’t have a financial need but that connecting with people has been good,” she says.
This experience has also been positive for the church members, as it has nurtured intergenerational connections between the young and old, providing opportunities for young people to receive mentorship in ministry.
Pastor Moreno shares that it “encourages children to be involved and gives people within the church a sense of purpose as to why we gather. We are the church when we are connected.
“When we do things like this and serve the community without strings attached and show God’s love practically, those who have been antagonistic in the past have a reason to be interested in church.”