Uniting church parishioners at Long Jetty and Ourimbah are perplexed by the cancellation of their Sunday church services.
They have been told Sunday worship, from October, will be held in the central location of Tumbi Umbi Uniting church.
The church is consolidating to better use their resources and will be investigating options for the future use of the church sites at both Long Jetty and Ourimbah.
The Uniting Church’s Sydney Central Coast presbytery has decided to combine the Sunday church services.
There has been a church on the site at 204 The Entrance Rd for 100 years next year, but Uniting Church has no plans to celebrate the centenary, much to the disappointment of some of the long term churchgoers.
The presbytery says falling parishioner numbers at Long Jetty have forced the consolidation.
Chair of the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery, Ian Lawrence, said the presbytery recently met and decided to dissolve the congregation at Long Jetty as part of the consolidation of the Ourimbah, Long Jetty and Tumbi Umbi churches.
“We’re looking to position the church for growth in that region and we felt the consolidation of the three worshipping places into one location would release resources to be able to generate some growth and revitalisation in the church,” Lawrence said.
“We have no intention of selling the Long Jetty site, it is an excellent site, and it is not our intention to leave it unused, but we don’t have any particular plans at present.
“Our intention is to do some intensive research and evaluation over the next three to nine months to explore a range of options for that site.
“We don’t have a locked in time frame for when that report might come back to the presbytery for consideration.”
Lawrence said the presbytery was hoping a bigger group of people in one location would boost enthusiasm and there had been offers to transport parishioners to the Tumbi Umbi church for Sunday services.
“Also, there’s a series of community uses in place at the moment in the church hall and the vast majority of those will continue,” he said.
“We have no intention of changing the locks and barring people from the site,” Lawrence said.
After 133 years of worship at “the little church on the hill” at Ourimbah, the final Sunday service will be at 11am on September 29.
The historic church was granted heritage status in 2011, under the Wyong Shire Heritage Review, because “this rare face brick Methodist Church from 1928 retains the original distinctive vernacular features from the gothic style, and is a traditional complement to the streetscape and the local community as a landmark of local historic significance”.
Secretary of the Ourimbah congregation, Margaret Ellis, said the building was highly valued by the community.
“The church has a congregation of 48, including eight children, and the Fijian members make a great input to the community,” she said.
“The Ourimbah adult fellowship makes up 40 Christmas hampers for the needy in the district and we will still hold our annual Christmas Carol service and presentation of hampers in the church hall on December 9.”
Interview, Sept 5,
Ian Lawrence, Chair, Sydney Central Coast Presbytery, Uniting Church
Media statement, Sept 9
Margaret Ellis, Secretary, Ourimbah Uniting Church congregation
Journalist, Sue Murray