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Belmont church’s finding community at its heart


After a window was smashed when a rough sleeper took refuge within the Belmont Baptist Church hall last month, rather than chastise that person, the pastor taped a note on the repaired glass offering his mobile number and a promise to help find refuge if needed.

Such is the philosophy of the church’s community care arm – ‘To belong, believe and become’.

Baptist Community Care manager Brad Roach says this is because people’s needs have become so great. 

“There are so many people doing it tough at the moment,” he says.

“There are people desperate for rentals, struggling to pay for their petrol, hungry, suffering with addiction issues, running away from violent partners.

“We’ve all got to jump in and help where we can.

“That’s our job as Christians.”

Since its inception 18 months ago, BCC has dished up 65 to 70 meals each week, both sit-down and takeaway, for those in need.

Reopening its doors on June 1 for the first time since the initial covid outbreak forced its closure, the group’s industrial kitchen offered an opportunity for Mr Roach’s team to live its philosophies.

“About two and a half years ago we decided our motto would be for our church in the heart of the community, to be the church with community at its heart.

“The trouble is we felt like we weren’t really doing what we said we were.”

The group’s mission statement includes inspiring community members to feel they belong, encouraging them to believe and become the best versions of themselves.

With space to utilise, the group opened its doors to other not-for-profits. 

Having met with groups like Probus, Lions, [Shortland MP] Pat Conroy’s office, Lake Macquarie City Council  they launched their new-found passion for helping the community.

That’s where the weekly soup kitchen began.

“It’s our christian duty to help those in need in our community,” Mr Roach said.

“When we evaluated our church values, high on that list was community and we’re now actively looking for ways to do that.”

The group has since extended its hospitality to include hosting a Samaritans drug rehabilitation program, community choir,  seniors social mornings and warm blankets for everyone.

In August 2019 they partnered with Good 360 Australia to redistribute redundant stock to community members in need.

“During the past 18 months we’ve outlayed $2,400 which allowed us to purchase $125,000 worth of personal and household items we then distributed to not-for-profit groups, allowing their ministry to grow on the back of that.”

“We’re now doing clothes and food parcels and personal care ..whatever we can get our hands on.”

As well as food and clothing Belmont Community Care also welcomes the Lion’s truck each week, equipped with washing machines and showers for the use of those in need. 

“So now those facing homelessness can come and have a coffee or tea, a hot meal and dessert and then a hot shower,” Mr Roach said.

“We’ve seen some lives change for the good, and that makes it worthwhile.

“It was about getting back to square one for us – what are our core values and how do we best look after the bloke next to us,” he said.

“Prayer and Christ-mindedness, evangelism, community – that’s where we start and we go from there.”

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