RENEW - A presence in the heart of the community

By Dale Barclay – Field Staff, Sunraysia South, Victoria

A number of years ago our parish had a dream of establishing a presence in the heart of the community through a shop front.

It was with great delight that in 2014, through a grant applied for by Diocese of Bendigo, we had the resources to rent a shop in an ideal location.

RENEW has now been operating for a year and over 2700 volunteer hours have been given.

RENEW aims to make a positive contribution to the physical, social and spiritual needs of people in the Sunraysia South area. Many people from the parish and the wider community have made a remarkable contribution.

RENEW provides:

  • An op-shop with low-cost clothing and goods
  • An outlet for our Foodbank program
  • A place for social engagement/interaction
  • Community workshops/programs
  • Opportunities for people to explore and develop a Christian spirituality
  • Links for people to gain access to other relevant services

Many pastoral opportunities have come out of RENEW. Recently I spent five hours with a man who had been assaulted the night before. This included taking him to the police station to report the incident, to the doctor to get checked out, and to the bus station at 4am so he could get away for a break. Some people we come across have been affected by ‘ice’ and domestic violence. We have supported them and also referred them to the appropriate services.

We have handed out food to 90 adults and 60 children – we are grateful to Foodbank Victoria for the food they provide.

One of our main ministries has been simply providing a place where people can come and chat. Our volunteers often have small ministry opportunities. We also invite people to our community lunch held every Sunday after church. No one is turned away from RENEW, and in God’s grace longer term we will build authentic relationships and share the good news of Jesus not only in deed, but word as well. We welcome BCA Nomads to come and help out as well.