There was cake, kids and crowds at Kingswood Anglican’s 125th anniversary, which was celebrated with joy and thankfulness for how God has used his people since the church opened in 1898. 

New rector the Rev Simon Twist explained that he was keen to present the Kingswood of 2023 rather than focus too much on the church as it was.

“We presented what Kingswood does every week,” he said. “Sure, we had a ‘flashback’ video about our history, we had cake in the service, we had lunch together afterwards – and it was all great. But we had a kids’ program running, there was a kids’ spot in the service and, although the Archbishop was invited to speak, we asked him to continue with our series on Mark. 

“The idea was not just to do an archaeological dig of what Kingswood looked like in the past but what it looks like right now. That way, we could say, ‘Yes, this has been a great celebration service, but guess what? We do this every Sunday, and we preach the gospel!’”

Former members returned to the western suburbs parish from as far away as Newcastle, and the congregation was also joined by local bishop, Gary Koo, former parish rectors and their wives, members of parliament and the principal of Kingswood Public School.

In adding his welcome to those present, Archbishop Raffel rejoiced that, while there were many growth areas and new suburbs in the district, for 125 years “this church has been here and people have been gathering together in this way, in Jesus’ name, to do exactly what we’re doing today!”

In preaching from Mark 2 and the story of the paralysed man, he noted that the paralysed man had “excellent friends” because they brought him to Jesus; that the man’s greatest need – and ours – is not healing but forgiveness; and that Jesus had, and has, the authority to forgive sins.

Archbishop Raffel then noted that, throughout its history, the members at Kingswood had also “sought to be excellent friends in this community, seeking in every way they could to being their friends to Jesus”. 

Those proclaiming and living out the message of hope in Christ since 1898 were “not perfect people, not holier-than-thou people, [but] people who know the forgiveness and love of Christ and want to make his love known to others in every possible way – seeking to proclaim the message of freedom and forgiveness in Jesus and to bring help and hope in Jesus’ name to anyone and everyone in this district”.

Mr Twist agreed. “Some people may not think [doing this] is of benefit to the community but we know that it is. We know that we’re providing the words of eternal life to a suburb that needs it.”