Full steam ahead at Stanhope
To say that Steve Reimer is excited about the future of his parish would be an understatement.
And it’s not surprising. Stanhope Anglican Church began just over a decade ago under the umbrella of Rouse Hill, moving under the banner of Life Anglican at Quakers Hill two years later – and this year the church plant has become a parish in its own right.
Not only that, but funds from the Diocese ensured land for a church was bought in a prime position in the booming suburb of Stanhope Gardens. The recent approval of the parish’s development application means that building will start on their land in a few months’ time.
Given that for its entire short life church members have met in the Blacktown Leisure Centre, excitement about a true home of their own is pretty high.
“The anticipation for building on the land has been there for quite some time!” Mr Reimer says. “We’re hoping that by Christmas next year we can celebrate in the building. It will really help to give us a presence in the community, and it’s a great location on the main road across from the shops, next to the retirement village.
“We want to be a light to Stanhope Gardens and the surrounding suburbs, and we believe the building will help us to reach out and hopefully be a blessing to the community.”
Mr Reimer says the suburb has changed tremendously in the past five years, with cow- and horse-filled paddocks converted into “thousands and thousands of homes”.
“Whether people have moved from another part of Sydney or from overseas it’s really a mission field, and one of the things we’re trying to work on is how we can make the most of that,” he says.
“[The work] is hard. It’s slow. It’s on people’s hearts and we want to do it more and more but it’s not easy. There’s been a real increase in the number of people moving into the area from all numbers of nations, so we’re really working hard on how we can reach out to them… and larger numbers have come now from Asia and the Subcontinent.
“In some ways they’re open to talking about faith cause they’re used to that, but [for some of them] who Jesus is, is still quite foreign. We’re trying to encourage people just in their everyday contact with others to be sharing their life and the gospel.”
To that end, Stanhope has just hired the Rev Edwin Thambyaiyah part-time to take on the parish’s cross-cultural ministry – helping members reach out individually and collectively to their changing suburb.
However, the parish needs to raise support to keep Mr Thambyaiyah on long term, and Mr Reimer says Stanhope is looking to make connections with other parishes that might see the value in “partnering with us as part of a mission in Sydney”.
“We’re thankful for the partnership we’ve had over the years with Quakers Hill and for one-off partnerships like St Paul’s, Castle Hill [which came and helped] at Easter. Sydney Anglican churches working together – that’s something we want to keep looking at.”
On May 16 New Churches for New Communities is holding a celebration evening at the Wesley Centre in the city to share what God is doing at Stanhope, Leppington and Marsden Park – and looking forward to the work and challenges that lie ahead for each of these churches. People interested in attending can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.