During its Mission Planning process in 2018 one of the disturbing learnings for Star St Uniting Church in Carlisle was that we were virtually invisible in our local community.
While our building is on a busy intersection, it is not immediately identifiable as a church – many locals thought it was part of a nearby nursing home, or a business or offices. A few years ago an attractive mural to symbolise our church had been created on an outside wall, but it was clear we needed more. Few local residents knew about our church, what we did or what we stood for.
The first thing we did was to commission an international competition for the design of a logo which represented Star St Uniting Church. The winner of the competition was a woman from the Philippines and her design is now prominent on all our communications. It has a cross at the centre, representing Christ who is central to our life, surrounded by a group of rainbow coloured people – to represent the diversity in our church – with arms raised in praise, reaching out to the community.
The next step was to order new signage for the church to increase our visibility. The new signage was professionally designed and included our Mission Statement – ‘Transforming Lives, Transforming our Community’ – as well as the Star St logo and the Uniting Church logo. The new signage included an electronic sign which displays changing messages about our church, our activities and our values.
In late 2019 we received a Grant from Thrive Mission Committee to create an outdoor hospitality space to enable us to engage more with our community. This includes a garden bench for passers by to rest, a Little Library for sharing of books and a Prayer Box, where local residents can leave prayer requests. These are shared in worship every Sunday which enables the congregation to get a feel for what are current issues in the community. The Little Library and Prayer Box were made for us by Belmont Men’s Shed, thus developing another relationship within our community.
Finally, we started becoming more visible on social media. There are active Facebook groups for residents of Carlisle, Lathlain, Victoria Park and Belmont and we began publicising activities at Star St on these forums. In particular we advertised the Emergency Food Parcels program that we run weekly with the result that we were inundated with donations of food from local residents, who dropped by to see what we were doing.
One issue we have identified in our local community is the number of people in housing crisis due to increase in rents combined with decrease in Centrelink income. Star St is now co-ordinating local community services in a campaign to get greater State Government funding for public housing.
The first step in developing a Mission Plan is to build relationships with your local community, both listening to local concerns and sharing what your church has to offer. Through all these projects the local community now knows that Star St is here, that we care about people, that we want to contribute to our local community and that they are invited to join us in worship, witness and service.