About Us

Why bother with Church?

Is profit the only valid motive? Who benefits from that? Is consumerism ultimately satisfying? The secular world seems to have a black hole in its heart. Those who long for some deeper, lasting satisfaction with life often find it best in company. Christianity offers a way of transformation to this end. We offer an approach to it that values reason as well as feeling, and a supportive community who will make you welcome.

As a family-oriented community church, we have a thoughtful, open-minded and engaged approach to faith and scripture. We ask big questions, explore non-traditional ways of worship in a moderately progressive way, and seek to integrate insights from different styles of Christian faith.

Our Approach: moderately progressive.

There are many different kinds of Christian gatherings. Some older churches seem to be left behind, shrinking, stuck in a time warp, and using language that has lost meaning - yet which remains helpful to those who have always worshipped this way, and for whom church should not change. Other churches can be large, loud and very directive about how we should live, meeting the needs of those whose faith and life is at a stage where such things matter. Then there are other kinds of church again, less often featured in the media, which address the needs of those who don't feel at home in either 'traditional church' or 'noisy church'. In these churches, people can openly and safely explore questions of meaning, and develop varieties of thoughtful, scriptural, life-changing faith, informed but not governed by science, history, and tradition, that make sense in a world dazzled by technology, celebrity and addiction.

Parkdale Church of Christ is, on the whole, one of these 'open' churches - where groups of people are keen to work things out by informed discussion, and to try new ways of celebrating and living out our faith together that make sense for smaller groups, rather than being stuck in old ways, or being stridently uniform. These groups do things differently, but are all part of the church community; nobody has to attend everything, and no single activity (not even Sunday morning worship) is mandatory for anybody. Our unifying focus is, of course, Jesus: we are a Church of Christ, and we explore in the light of what he taught and achieved through crucifixion and resurrection, as described in the New Testament, read with understanding of the language and culture of the time. We ask questions of the texts we read, seeking to understand their circumstances and viewpoints, and could be called ‘progressive’, but we do not go so far as to accept non-canonical writings as Scripture, and we are thoroughly trinitarian. We seek the God who inspires and speaks through the Bible, rather than treating the text as dictated by God word-for-word. We hold the paradox of evolution in creation, not wishing to read modern scientific understandings into creation accounts that are all about meaning and purpose, nor to ignore science through reading such accounts too literally. We find hope and reassurance symbolised in the apocalyptic scriptures, but not specifics of events, places or times. We are confident we will meet Jesus unexpectedly, ‘like a thief in the night’!

We give heed first to the priority Jesus gave to loving God, and to loving our neighbours as ourselves; everything else is approached through the lens of these commands, including acceptance of divorce, remarriage, gender equality (including women in leadership), and the range of gender or sexual orientations that are now widely recognised in Western society. The old slogan‘in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity’ means a great deal for us! (‘Charity' here has its old sense of care, or loving-kindness). Loving God through Jesus is our focus - we do not give these other matters unbalanced attention, even though some other churches find them controversial, but rather quietly accept all people as they are: loved abundantly by God, and therefore deserving of our love.

We are moderately progressive, then; as far as is possible we also seek to integrate the values and understandings of many differing styles of Christian faith, and while the above describes our general approach, there is a wide range of opinion among our members - and it is good that this is so, because we do not wish to be all the same!

People seeking very traditional or liturgical services, or directive teaching, or rock-band worship, are unlikely to feel at home with us. On the other hand, those who value open, thoughtful, and non-judgmental exploration of issues that matter today are more likely to be comfortable and make a contribution here. If you consider yourself an exile from church, or post-Christian, yet you seek thoughtful faith-oriented community and friendship, maybe you should take a look! It might be best to begin with the The Open Table, at 5pm most Sundays.

We should add that, since we are affiliated tothe Conference of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania, we subscribe to the statement of purpose found here.

Our services: open and informal.

We welcome all people willing to respect others, regardless of race, colour, sexual orientation, or any other difference, at all our services.*

The Sunday Evening Gathering is informal and has little structure. It includes quieter activities less suited to children.

The Open Table includes Communion, and is organised around a meal table every other week. Children are welcome, and if there are enough present, games may well be organised for them so that the adults can assist with setup and preparation of the meal, or take part in the discussion and worship.

The Sunday Morning Service has more recognisable structure but is still relatively informal compared to other more liturgical churches; it uses a mixture of readings, hymns and songs, and includes Communion, a teaching sermon, and a children's segment - children are welcome. We won't deafen you with music.

Churches of Christ differ from other churches in some practical ways. Our ministers do not use special clothing or titles, neither do we use a set form of words for the worship service, though at Parkdale we do have a habitual order of doing things in the morning service, and it causes considerable confusion when we change it!

Any person who trusts in Jesus is welcome to participate in the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion, or Eucharist) regardless of denominational affiliation, gender, sexual orientation,marital status, race, colour, style of baptism, or any other distinction you can think of.* Children are most welcome; we have an area for those who like to make a lot of noise, and we have a Sunday School which operates during part of the Morning Service in term-time so that the children may also be present at the Lord's Supper. In line with our declaration that any person who believes in and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour is welcome to participate in the Lord's Supper, children who have declared their faith in Jesus are welcome to participate with parental approval.

Baptism by full immersion is our way of declaring and celebrating new faith, but we don’t require it of those whose way has been different. Leadership in services is open to both women and men with appropriate skills, and this includes presiding at the Lord’s Supper. We call women as well as men into ministry.

Our chapel is fitted with a hearing aid loop to assist those who are hard of hearing.

Our services are recorded, and are available on audio CD or as MP3 files for those who wish to review the message or to pass on to others.

We also have a variety of weekday meetings, which are described more fully elsewhere on this website. Some of these are practical, some study-oriented, others devotional and prayer-oriented.

* We should mention that we might exclude those for some reason previously asked not to take part by the Elders of this church - but there is nobody in this category that we know of at present. It seems unlikely, but might happen one day.

The History of Parkdale Church of Christ

Parkdale Church of Christ was founded in 1921, and moved to the present site in 1923. A booklet describing the history of Parkdale Church up to 2005 is available through the church office or for download on the Resources page. The Church is a member of the Conference of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania. Each church is independently governed by its own board; we have no hierarchy of control, but through Conference we share some facilities between Churches where this makes sense - such as property funding, insurance matters, overseas aid, and training for ministry.

About the Churches of Christ

Churches of Christ commenced approximately 200 years ago in the US when Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone moved away from the Presbyterian tradition and commenced a movement which continues today, desiring to return to the idea of a New Testament Church. Our emphasis is on the New Testament, and we regard Holy Communion (known as the "The Lord's Supper") and "Believers Baptism" as key sacraments of the Church. Our theology is trinitarian and conventional; most would describe us as "low church". Our ministers do not use special titles or clothing, and we have long called women to leadership positions and to ministry as well as men. A calling to ministry leads by way of theological study to endorsement as an ‘approved’ minister by our Conference, and ordination for those who so desire after endorsement. Members of a congregation are able to lead worship, preside at the Lord's Supper and preach without being ordained, regardless of gender: we encourage the ministry of all believers in practice as well as in theory. More details may be found here.

There is a good article about Churches of Christ in Wikipedia.

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.