Congregation outgrows venue

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014
timaru connect church
ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY/Fairfax NZ

MOVING: An expanding congregation has led Connect Church to look for new, larger premises. It has been meeting at the Trinity church Hall on College Rd.

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As some traditional Timaru congregations dwindle and their church buildings are sold off, pentecostal church Connect is bucking the trend.

It has outgrown the hall it rents from the Trinity Presbyterian Church and will test the Mountainview High School auditorium for size on Sunday.

Established 32 years ago, the church now has 350 parishioners, with nearly one-third of them youth.

Pastor Mike Coe said church leaders did their best to be relevant with modern music, though the message had not changed.

"We have a strong culture of authenticity and people know not everyone has it all together. So people don't feel they don't measure up," Coe said.

John Mallett, a parishioner for the past 20 years, said the church had increased slowly, with a good balance of ages.

Business owner Steve Little has been attending Connect for five years and enjoyed the friendliness and social aspect it offered.

"I think the reason it is growing is because everyone has a place here where they belong."

Evangelical church Wilson St Baptist's numbers have remained steady but Pastor John McMullan said it had decided to go ahead with a $1 million redevelopment so it could continue serving the community.

The church hall was old and has been demolished and is being replaced with a new building and an upgraded church entrance.

Every age group was represented, with most aged between 40 and 50. Over the past five years more people had been showing an interest in spirituality.

"There's more to life than just what we buy and what we earn, there's something deeper ... people are looking for hope in a world where there doesn't seem much hope."

Keeping new generations coming meant fresh ideas, he said.

"God has given us a good message and we need to communicate it in a way that connects to people."

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- The Timaru Herald

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