After a 12-month search, a site has been secured for a future Anglican church in southwestern Sydney, with the Anglican Church Growth Corporation’s purchase of land in Catherine Field (located between Oran Park and Leppington).
The 1.88-hectare site is on Camden Valley Way, opposite the rapidly growing Gledswood Hills housing estate, in an area that is already home to tens of thousands of people.
“It’s so significant for the work of the gospel in the fast-growing southwest,” says the Bishop of the South Western Region, Peter Lin. “Every parish in the Diocese has partnered in this missional advance and it should be considered an extension of our collective gospel outreach.”
The purchase was made possible by last year’s Synod decision to continue the 2 per cent Land Acquisition Levy paid by each parish for another decade. Corporation CEO Ross Jones says this has made the difference between buying and not buying a piece of land when it becomes available.
“We used to save up money over a number of years and then pay for a property outright, but if you use the cost of Catherine Field [$6.4 million] as an example, having just bought some land we’d need three years before we could buy the next one,” he says.
“With Synod approving the levy to be locked in for 10 years, that allows us to borrow to fund a purchase when we need it and the 2 per cent levy pays that back. It gives us a lot more flexibility.”
This flexibility has enabled the purchase of the Catherine Field site only six months after the Growth Corporation bought 2.3 hectares in the northwestern suburb of Box Hill, which lies between Rouse Hill and Pitt Town and where the population is expected to more than double by 2036.
Each of the purchases made by the Growth Corporation includes extra land that can be subdivided and sold later to fund church construction or the purchase of more land. This strategy, combined with the levy, provides about 90 per cent of the cost of each new land parcel.
The church facilities to be built at Catherine Field will be used by Grace Anglican Churches, Camden Valley, led by the Rev Jonathan Squire. He knows it will take some years for a physical church building to be established but is already excited by the opportunities it will provide to serve an area that, over the past 20 years, he has watched transform from paddocks to suburbs.
“The purchase of this land is a wonderful answer to prayer... it will provide a centre for ministry to this new growth area which has already grown to 50,000 people, with significantly more growth to come,”
“We need to continue to plant and grow churches wherever we can, but the purchase of this brilliantly located land wonderfully provides a stable, long-term centre for ministry for both now and many years to come. We’re very grateful for God’s provision through the fellowship of Anglican churches and the work of ACGC.”
The Growth Corporation’s updated Greenfields Strategy includes the top 10 areas where it would like to buy land, with the highest priority given to three other sites in Camden Valley parish, three within the parish of Rosemeadow, and one apiece in the parishes of Glenmore Park with Mulgoa, Picton-Wilton and Kingswood.
Mr Jones encourages people to pray for the future ministries at these sites, and to consider their own potential for living and serving in such places.
“Our vision is all about providing excellent ministry and evangelism infrastructure for our parishes,” he says. “Now, we can do that, but they’re all white elephants if people aren’t in those buildings and on those sites looking for way to share Jesus with the people around them. What parishioners do in sharing the gospel is so much more important – we just provide a roof over their heads!”
Those interested in donating to support the continuing work in greenfields areas of the Diocese can give through New Churches for New Communities here.