The two parishes met over a period of 4 years to discuss the possibility of merging into a single Parish with the final decision being made in 2007.
The following is the outcome of these discussions. The assumption was that such an entity would be a single Parish with multiple ministries exercised by a diverse team.
Our vision is for a multi-lingual, multicultural, diverse ministry within an integrated ministry setting. St Michael’s had a bilingual ministry, in English and Cantonese. There is a growing trend among Chinese migrants for Mandarin to be the main language so a Mandarin language ministry may also be a possibility. Other languages would depend on demand and opportunity.
A merged entity would allow and encourage a larger team ministry, providing extra resources and mutual support, thus strengthening our ministry base.
We would have multiple congregations, with, for example, English and Cantonese services operating concurrently with a common English speaking Sunday School.
We would continue to be a gospel oriented church, majoring in Biblical preaching and teaching. We would ensure that our focus in ministry was both outward and inward.
We would maintain our strong support of and interest in world missions.
Our local ministry focus would include the following (not in any particular order):
- Ministry to students
- Deakin University
- St Andrew’s School,
- Local Secondary Colleges
- Local primary Schools
- An encouragement of “gift based” ministry. That is, empowered lay ministry. We would seek to be a “permission giving” church where members are encouraged to try new ministry ventures, follow their heart, attempt new things for God.
- Small group ministry
The character of the church we are seeking to establish would include the following:
- It would be a community Church,
- maintaining a sense of belonging for it’s members
- Where everyone can know and be known
- conscious of the community in which we are situated
- contributing to the life of and serving the community around us
- We would be a church that welcomes all comers
- We would seek to maintain our character as a multi-age multi-generational church that values the contributions of people of all stages of life and Christian maturity
- As part of our outward looking focus we would seek to serve other churches in the vicinity. This might include sending members to seed growth in other congregations once we’ve grown to a size that is self sustaining.
- We would seek to nurture Christians in their Christian life at whatever stage they are.
- We would seek to model Christian values and living
- We would be active in pastoral care of our own congregation and of others who come to our notice.
In order to fulfill this vision we expect that we will need to provide the following physical facilities:
- Two worship centres, collocated.
- Sufficient teaching/meeting rooms to provide for Sunday School classes, seminars, youth group, etc.
- Possibly a youth group centre
- Medium sized hall - stage not required
- Kitchen equipped for catering
- No stairs in worship/hall areas
- Car park – 100 cars
- Offices – for 8-9 people
- Vicarage – off site
- Enclosed children’s play area – adjacent to a hall
- Coffee/book shop
- Informal gathering space in or near main foyer
- Chinese minister/s
- Curate/Associate minister
- Youth minister
- Children and Families minister
- University worker
- Pastoral Care worker
- Admin Officer
Name: After much thought and discussion we came up with StThomas as the name for the new Parish for the following reasons:
- Thomas is made up of 'Tho' from Theodore and 'Mas' from Michael's
- Thomas was also known as “The Twin”
- Thomas is believed to have been the first missionary to Asia
Motto: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (Jn 20:29)
Patron saint of builders, architects and the blind