On Monday I attended a family reunion; it was the funeral of Rev. Allan Whittham the first minister of Whalan/Mt Druitt Anglican Church.
Why a family reunion?
I learned as a child that church is not a building but a family. With all of our extended relatives still in England (my parents were 10 pound poms) the church was my family; Uncle Herbie and Aunty Marie, Aunty Irene and Uncle Jim…in fact they were all my Uncles and Aunts and we lived life together with them and their children. Together we grew in faith, prayed, read God’s word, had fights and resolved them, ate and really were an extended family. This is church and we never missed a Sunday.
At this church my parents came to faith in Jesus (with the help of the Billy Graham Crusade) and raised us to know Jesus too. I was transported back as I choked back the tears seeing faces of those who I knew as a child now grey and elderly but still strong for Jesus. I remembered the songs I used to mime as I looked up at the faces of my parents who loved to sing the old hymns; too young to read but not too young to participate.
As I drove home I reflected…what will our children recall about Menai Anglican 30 years from now? Will it be that our church is where their extended family gather; the family of God? Will they remember us as the place where families grew together as they prayed, followed God’s word and supported each other to serve Christ?
This happens when we make our gatherings a priority, as many people (not only children) ‘belong’ to the community of God before they belong to Jesus. ‘Belonging’ develops only when children are present at church every week; making and developing friendships based on our faith in Jesus. Our children will grow in Christ when we see church as family. It is said ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and likewise ‘it takes the church family to raise a child of Christ’.
Church: our weekly family reunion and definitely too good to miss!
Mary Pickford, Children's Minister