Bondi and Waverley team up
The parishes of Bondi and Waverley have begun a process of amalgamation after more than a year of increased partnership.
It started as a way to create a critical mass and enhance their shared mission to the surrounding area, and has the support of both churches – with a general meeting at Waverley last month resulting in near-unanimous agreement from members to proceed with the amalgamation.
“We started having combined services together, slowly at first, about six this year and last year one or two,” says Bondi rector the Rev Martin Morgan. “They’ve been great every time we’ve run them. People seem to enjoy them and even seem more comfortable inviting friends along.
“We thought it was something we could do more regularly, not just on Sundays but also more widely in terms of everyday ministry.”
Rector of Waverley, the Rev Aleks Pinter, notes that “in the eastern suburbs there are a whole lot of churches close together. I thought even from my early days at Waverley that there was no point in being parochial.
“Fantastically, a lot of the energy for this has come from the congregations themselves – a lot of remarks about it being a good experience and something that could happen every week. It also means we can better use our assets and our energy, pooling everything together rather than doing the same things separately.”
Morning services, including both a traditional and contemporary meeting, are now held at Waverley in order to combine the resources for kids’ ministry and music, while a new church plant run by the Rev Blake Hatton will continue to meet at Bondi Beach.
Mr Morgan says that, initially, no church services will be held at St Matthew’s, Bondi because “there is such a shortage of parking – but we will try and improve all our sites and look at innovative ways to engage the community at all three”.
In the amalgamated parish, which officially begins life on January 1, Mr Pinter will serve as assistant minister with Mr Morgan as rector.
“When we first started talking about it, we knew that in our system one person would have to be the rector,” Mr Pinter says. “But funnily enough, we’d both said we’d be happy for the other to be in charge. “From the start, there’s the sense that even though someone has to be called the rector, we work in a spirit of strong collaboration in ministry and also in managing a staff team. We have a shared vision and goals, so it wasn’t a difficult decision at all.”
Mr Morgan is excited by the opportunity a larger congregation offers to develop new ministries and make greater use of the material assets both churches have.
“Our area tends to be Jewish or secular, but there are still some 5400 people who say they are Anglican in the combined parish,” he says.
“Waverley fills the building at Christmas time with people who feel they are Anglicans, and who they’ve developed relationships with even though they aren’t regulars.
“St Mary’s is also a beautiful building – an Edmund Blacket building in a central location, something we’re not used to at Bondi, and having multiple sites to use for different things is a huge blessing.
“People from both churches are, I think, excited about the opportunity to work together, to use these assets and this partnership to really try some new things in reaching out to the area.”
Photo: Working together: the Rev Aleks Pinter and the Rev Martin Morgan at St Mary’s, Waverley.