Yesterday I had a lovely drive through the Adelaide Hills to visit the leaders of the Baptist Church at Gumeracha. So far this would have to be the prettiest Baptist Church I have visited particularly as I found it yesterday; surrounded by the bright green new growth of the mulberry trees.
One of the things that struck me from my conversation with the leaders was how a communities strengths and weaknesses can so often be two sides of the same coin.
And this strength/weakness coin often represents the uniqueness of the community. Gumeracha is an easy 20 minute drive from the northern suburbs of Adelaide and yet is nestled in the hills among a cluster of small townships with a very rural identity.
Behind the church is a crumbling old cemetery. Across the road is a place called the “circle of oaks”. In the centre of this circle was once an old well in which the Church conducted baptisms. Home to medieval fairs and harvest festivals ….I felt as though I may have stepped into the English Cotswolds (of the kind shown in BBC murder mystery shows).
While many Churches are struggling to overcome their apparent “old-world” relevance in a era that demands modernity- here is a Church with the opportunity to embrace quaintness with all the bake sales and fetes it desires. Many people commute from Gumeracha into the suburbs or city but they chose to live in the community for its rural, quaint village feel.
I asked the Church leaders:
What is it that makes your community unique? What about your Christmas festival or harvest blessing are distinctly “Gumeracha”? And considering that- what unique role does this Church have to play in that unique community?
Just as I did with Gumeracha I would like to encourage you to reconsider your own community. Try to see it as a visitor. What might you have been painting as negative elements that might also represent the uniqueness and strength of your community?