Friday, October 2, 2009

South Melbourne Restoration Community. The end...

[Update] Just got an email from Mark Sayers, who just wanted to point out that Al Hirsch, John Jensen et al; not mention on the web site was an oversight, and a new web site will be put up latter with these details amended.

One of the reasons I mention this church is because it was on the edge. Making a real impact on its community. What came out of it and still does has made local, national and international impact and is still doing so.
It had a few different incarnations. Some of which are documented in Alan Hirschs book 'The Shaping of things to Come.'
The last incarnation was four groups of missional communities, spread across Melbourne called the 'Red Network'. Here is a blurb from the history::

In 2003 South Melbourne Restoration Community decided that God was moving us away from being a localised Church in South Melbourne into a network of vibrant missional churches across our city and thus the Red Network was born with four Tribes being connected; North, South, East and West. The aim of this network was to take the ethos of South Melbourne Restoration Community and adapt it to the other areas in Melbourne. Although sharing the same values, each Tribe looked different depending on the area in which it based itself. South remained committed to those in the South Melbourne area, particularly providing a Church haven with those who struggled with sexual identity. North based itself in Fitzroy, exploring various ways of reaching Melbourne’s cool and hip, West sought to minister to the western poor in Footscray and surrounding areas and East based itself in Box Hill with the aim of serving the strongly Asian migrant community. In essence a lot of these tribes attracted a lot of young adults who, although still wanting to have a faith in Christ, were leaving conventional church models and seeking what it means to really ‘be’ church in post-Christian Western Culture.

In 2009, six years on the seasons have changed and many lessons have been learnt. The West, North and South tribes ceased due to leadership changes, and Martin DeGraaf (leader of the Network) moved on to explore other work. Mark Sayers, (one of the few people who has been part of the entire Red History to date), became the leader of Red in Jan 09. After an extensive process of review Red has now transistioned from being a network to being a church in Box Hill. Having experimented and gleaned from all sorts of notions of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ church Red is now at a refined stage of defining itself as a church which is a balance of being evangelically based, holy spirit led and social justice orientated.

Interestingly Alan Hirsch's name's not mentioned in the history, even though he was one of the forces involved in setting up the network, as well as one senior ministers at South Melbourne Restoration. Also part of the network was John Jenson, a character who was often found doing itinerant preaching and having an important profile around Melbourne.
What would be interesting would be some of Hirschy and Mark Sayers thoughts regarding its demise. What lessons were learnt?
It would also be interesting why Mark Sayers has gone down the established church route (Kids?)

It with sadness that the Church has gone from South Melbourne. I had visited a few times. made the pilgrimage like so many others, to the church which was making a real impact on their community. I suppose its hard to be on the edge for so long. There is a huge energy requirement.


Anonymous said...

I attended SMRC for a few years in the late 1990s, and I found it to be one of the most clique-ish and unfriendliest churches I've ever been too. I was never made welcome there. I'm glad it's now defunct.

Scott said...

Hi Anonymous,

Sorry that you had this sort of experience. The demographic that the Church was, I'm not suprised.
My experience was positive with been welcomed. Then again I was only a visitor.
There must have been somthing positive to have kept you there for a few years though?

Anonymous said...

hello from some one who really deeply wanted change. i went to south melbourne restoration community. hope in a way to find some sort of hope. i donated once in collection money that i thought would help with my change. but i was a fool i had tried to connect to purple heart. yet it was know real leadership. and i really felt like a fool for a while. so i was living for some sort of direction. i never really got. i needed real proof some how. why..... now i am gay for sure. thanks for nothing. the church at south melbourne lacked so much future direction. in a certain way. think...... be who you are, within diversity.

scott aitken said...

Hi Anonomyous, sad to read your experience. Got to write though it was over 10 years ago and I'm pretty sure most churches approach the LGBT a lot differently. I'm sure the past leadership would have changed as well in how they approach things.
The other thing your quote ' now I'm gay for sure', I don't think it is something to be ashamed off. There are some churches out there in Melbourne which are affirming of people who are orientated to those of the same sex.

All the best Scott