Billabong: Not holding back

It has been fifteen years since the 1.6 hectares at 225 Campbell Road was purchased in hope for the new Canning Vale Uniting Church faith community. The consultation, planning and  crowd funding for The Billabong Community Centre has taken too long, the final piece coming through a generous grant from the Presbytery earlier this year. It was therefore with much  disbelief that the Billabong congregation met onsite on Sunday 15 June for a time of worship and encouragement together in preparation for the new building. It has been three and a half  years since the on-site tent we used to worship in was packed away.

The new building plan was marked on the ground using stakes and string and a balsa wood model helped people imagine what is about to be built. Everyone gathered on the ‘verandah’  for afternoon tea served from the ‘kitchen’. They were then invited into ‘Multipurpose Room 2’ to take a seat on one of the camping chairs. After a time of singing and prayer I  took up a  small trenching shovel that I was given at my induction as the church planter in February 2000. The battered looking shovel had seen a lot of work and was a great symbol to break the  dirt for the construction of the long envisioned Billabong Community Centre.

A one metre hole was dug by the children in the centre of the congregation and a plastic wrapped  Bible was buried there to symbolise the congregation’s commitment to only teach and  preach the truth of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures in the building.

Each family was then given a large varnished wooden stake embossed with the words from Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the site of your tent, let the side curtains be stretched out; do not hold  back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.”

Before people left they were encouraged to write a message or draw a picture for a time capsule which  will be opened in 15 years. The forty week building schedule will hopefully enable  an opening service in the first half of 2015 to which the whole Presbytery will be invited.

Mark Illingworth

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