$20m milestone for church building grants scheme

The new Casey Adventist Church in Victoria.

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A dilapidated sports centre in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, has been transformed into a vibrant place of worship with the assistance of a $A1 million grant from the South Pacific Division (SPD).

Members of the Casey Adventist Church expressed gratitude and joy as they gathered on October 28 for the first service in the new building. Casey is one of 26 projects that have been supported through the “Church Building Grants” scheme, which is funded by the Church Cash Management Facility (CCMF), a department of the SPD.

Launched in 2006, the scheme has recently achieved a significant milestone, with CCMF having contributed more than $A20 million of funding for the purchase, acquisition and major refurbishment of local church buildings in the higher-cost regions of Australia and New Zealand.

CCMF manager Paul Rubessa highlighted the funding challenges faced by local churches in acquiring property in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. The grants, he explained, aim to turn the seemingly impossible into a reality.

“This is one way in which CCMF have a tangible impact on local church ministry by helping local churches get a footprint in the community where they want to make an impact,” Mr Rubessa said.

For the Casey church, the grant facilitated the purchase of an old sports centre strategically located near the Narre Warren railway station. It had ceased operating as a sports facility in the early 2000s and was in a dilapidated state. The local council viewed the site as a public eyesore and was keen to have it cleaned up and utilised to reduce juvenile crime in the area. With the new church now open, members are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to serve and be a blessing in their local community.

At the opening of Werribee church, situated in the fastest growing municipality in Melbourne.

Another beneficiary of the grants scheme is the Werribee church, situated in Wyndham local government area—the fastest growing municipality in Melbourne and third fastest in Australia. A $1.37 million grant went towards a complete rebuild of the church on its own land. The project was completed in September 2021. The Victorian Conference recognises Werribee as an area of special evangelistic interest as there are no other Adventist congregations within 26 kilometres of this region. 

Conference CFO Graeme Moffitt said these projects would not have been possible without the financial support of the church building grants scheme.

“The Victorian Conference expresses its heartfelt thanks to the SPD for recognising and financially supporting the vision each of our church groups had in establishing themselves within their communities, with facilities we can be proud of,” Mr Moffitt said. 

“The financial support has given freedom to the church to focus on what it is there for—to build relationships with its community members to be able to share the good news of what Jesus has done for them.”

Churches wanting to be considered for the scheme are advised that application forms are sent to the Australian Union Conference and the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference annually in March. The applications will be considered by the Division Church Building Grants committee at their next meeting on May 28, 2024.

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