Tennis court to Life-giving Community Shelter

11 Sep 2022 by Tracey Austwick and Rev Andrew Smith in: Letters, Thoughts, News

Former tennis court to community life-giving shelter

From Tracey Austwick and Rev Andrew Smith

Photo 1: Site with church complex and three new vans on the former tennis courts
In recent months, Tathra Uniting Church has been working in partnership with the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJA) to place three emergency accommodation vans on the Bega Uniting church site. A number of other church and community groups, and local tradies, have also supported this venture with donations of materials, expertise and time.

Photo 2: Cooperation amongst partners was high as the vans were set in place

At the start of September the first resident moved in and visited the Tathra Uniting church service on Sunday 4 September to celebrate God's goodness and provision through making available what we have available for our community's benefit. Seven politicians (5 Local; 1 State; 1 Federal) have visited the site to see the vans and the response of neighbours and the wider community has been very affirming. One of the highlights of this project has been working together with the wider community, with much joy and peace on the site. Thanks also to our friends in Presbytery and Synod for your support and guidance.

Photo 3: Hon Kristy McBain, MP and SJA's lead, Mick Brosnan, inside one of the vans being prepared for occupants

Tathra Uniting Church has developed a mission plan for creating opportunities to build relationships with tenants living on site and discerning spiritual support based on the interests of the tenants. This is experimenting and building toward exploring a bigger vision of using more of the site for housing, including possible provision of a community chaplain. Some of the key parts of the mission plan for the current emergency housing include the following:
  • To live out this mission following the example of Christ.
  • To demonstrate kindness and respect to all tenants, respecting their privacy and individual needs.
  • To provide welcome hampers (including a Gospel & helpful study guide) when introducing ourselves and explaining our support roles.
  • To assist with transport to Tathra Uniting Church for worship  or events or Tathra Uniting Op Shop to obtain necessary clothing, cooking utensils, etc.
  • Inviting the tenants to take part in the preparation of the regular refugee dinners at Bega Uniting - a fund raiser in partnership with SJA - and other church activities.
  • To provide activities that match with the needs/interests of the tenants and TUC congregational members (eg. Invitations to special events, worship services, guitar lessons).