Dreaming Big – and St Luke’s Salt & Light Plans (as at 16 Dec 2021)

In 2017 St Luke’s Highton UCA began a process toward regeneration ministry. In 2018 with the arrival of Rev Paul Stephens the community undertook Dreaming Big studies, built on the Synod’s Property for Mission Workbook.

In 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we applied to City of Greater Geelong for an Infrastucture Planning Grant of $20000 to work with the community to understand how we could use our site and resources for the benefit of the broader community and to continue to be Christ’s “Salt & Light” in our community. We were successful and in 2021, we implemented this planning – throughout the challenges of another covid year.

The Design Brief (pdf format) that was developed is available here: StLuke_DESIGN BRIEF_9oct2021_CoGGlogo_Stage2

Deakin School of Architecture & Built Environment team gave an initial presentation of architectural ideas in response to the Brief in October to the “Community Voice” and Church Council groups. They took feedback away to refine the ideas.

On 17 December, Stewart Seaton & Dr Igor Martek presented their refined concepts to a broader group from church and community. A recording of the session is available on Youtube. Send us a message if you’d like to view it.

The plans show how the site could be transformed to create the environment to enable the Design Brief to become reality. The Deakin Team also created an animated 3D fly through that Stewart has narrated. (this will open in YouTube)

There were seven drawings and images presented:

StLukes_Concept_Plans – Overview

StLukes_Concept_Plans 2021 – Elevations

StLukes_Concept_Plans 2021 – Sectional elevations

StLukes_Concept_Plans 2021 – Views from the NE corner

StLukes_Concept_Plans 2021_ Views inside the Sanctuary precinct including possible extension of Sanctuary into the ‘gardens’

StLukes_Concept_Plans 2021 – View in the NW corner – repurposed Lane Memorial Hall in the market garden and looking to the original church

StLukes_Concept_Plans2021 – 3D model image of site

In the months to come, this will be refined and agreed on as a ‘Master Plan’ that over coming years will be ‘staged’ to implement as people, finance and most importantly, God’s Spirit, guide us.

If you have any questions or are interested in being involved in (or partnering with) this vision and work, contact admin@stlukesuca.org.au   (or call the Church Office or our Minister)

Thanks to City of Greater Geelong for the Infrastructure Planning Grant 2021 ($20,000) which was matched by the Congregation & partners (My Pilgrim’s Way, and Deakin University School of Architecture & Built Environment).

City of Great Geelong Logo

Pastoral Letter from the Moderator 29th October 2021

Vaccination and Reopening: face-to-face worship and COVID requirements

Dear Friends,

Over past weeks, questions around vaccination and reopening have been on the hearts and minds of many in our communities.

In Victoria, new public health directions include responsibilities for ministry agents, authorised workers and Church Councils. In planning for reopening of worship and use of congregational buildings, Church Council responsibilities include compliance with requirements relating to vaccination. Authorised workers, both paid and volunteer, must also provide evidence of their vaccination status to their workplace. The number of people who may attend religious gatherings in any part of Victoria depends on whether everyone present is fully vaccinated, and churches are responsible for how this is implemented.

What do we need to consider, as we plan toward reopening, in light of our legal obligations and other responsibilities? How does our faith inform our questions and decisions?

There have been many opportunities to explore these questions over the last few weeks, along with resources to answer or open up our questions along the way. The COVID FAQs help keep us up-to- date with the requirements: All you need to know: answers to your frequently asked questions – Uniting Church in Australia. Synod of Victoria and Tasmania (uca.org.au)

The Assembly has gathered together resources from across our Church, including from VicTas, to guide us theologically and biblically: https://uniting.church/the-question-of-reopening/

I would like to offer another opportunity to share insights, to learn from each other and with each other – in light of our faith. I have included with this letter an invitation to join with me in exploring these questions, with biblical and theological insights to help resource us in making decisions consistent with our faith.

The story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ call to love God and neighbour, is one guide that runs deep to our faith. It’s a call to focus on the welfare of others, and to give special consideration to those most vulnerable to risk of harm — beyond our usual circles of interest or personal preferences.

Throughout history, Christians have gathered together to hear scripture, break bread and pray, to be formed and shaped as a community, as the body of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be bodily present to each other in our worship and life, reflected in the deep desire of so many to return to physical gatherings. As open, welcoming and respectful communities, we have a responsibility for the safety and dignity of all especially the most vulnerable amongst us. As Paul reminds us in several of his letters, we are called to attend to the implications of our actions and choices upon others, and to be courageous in calling each other to account for this. In various ways, this means placing conditions on how we gather and relate to one another, and to consider the impact of our actions on those beyond ourselves. As Christians, we are also called to respect and uphold the law — for the sake of the integrity and well-being of our local and wider communities.

Sometimes we find ourselves trying to choose between two good things that don’t easily align. Many Church Councils are discerning the need to decide now, even though decisions are difficult, rather than waiting in hope of simpler answers which may not emerge. One aspect for Christian communities to consider, is how we might be asking others to bear certain costs on our behalf. These could include health, financial or other costs in relation to unmet legal responsibilities. And in all things, we seek a prayerful generosity of spirit as we sift and sort our way ahead together.

In the midst of this pandemic, the most vulnerable to serious illness include indigenous communities, those who are older or live with disability, have underlying health conditions or are immunocompromised. Where there are a significant number of vulnerable people in the congregation, including a Minister or other worship leaders, Church Councils may decide their safety needs to be prioritised.

This might mean providing services for those who are fully vaccinated, which also allows larger congregations to gather together, and assists toward the responsibility to provide safe workplaces for Minsters or others who lead worship. Consideration will need to be given to how to care for and support COVID Marshalls in these situations, including where an unvaccinated person wishes to be included in a service. Clearly communicating worship arrangements ahead of time will help with this. It will assist people to make more considered decisions about attending worship, rather than finding themselves ‘put on the spot’.

Church Councils need to consider how to find ways to provide worship opportunities for those who are unvaccinated. Where there are known members of the congregation who are unvaccinated, pastoral conversations ahead of time will assist in finding ways of welcome and inclusion. These might be through specific pastoral care, or invitations to other ways of being included in community life and worship, including online. It might include a decision to have smaller worship services for those of unknown vaccination status, taking into account how to provide safe environments for those leading or assisting in worship and for all those present.

Church Councils and authorised workers also need to consider their significant legal obligations in complying with the directions related to vaccination, and the significant impact of not complying upon the safety and wellbeing of others, the reputation and witness of the Church in the wider community, and the financial implications of fines — not just for themselves but for others.

Over past months, we have been managing many new requirements which place conditions on how we can gather. Many of these have been challenging, yet we have found ways over time to adapt creatively and in astounding ways. And in the process, we have gained a renewed sense of what matters most in our life together.

As we continue on this journey together,

may we notice the small gifts and blessings around us each day, share our thanks with God and with others,

rest in prayer often,

and know ourselves loved of God and called to life in Christ. Grace and peace,

Rev Denise Liersch Moderator

20211029 Pastoral Letter

October News Sheet

Thanks to Mike Currie and a number of contributors, please find this month’s news sheet on the link below.  Rev. Paul Stephens shares some great insights on St Luke the evangelist (and healer) after who our congregation is named.

News sheet Oct 2021 (pdf)

Remember to send your stories and news for next month to Mike at news@stlukesuca.org.au by 27 October.

Using the new Services app to organise helpers for church activities

A new way of organising

A big part of any church ministry is organising the people needed to make activities happen.  This includes Sunday services, Messy Church, working bees, Sewing groups, playgroups, funerals, online services and much more.

This year St Luke’s is using the Services app to roster our people for activities.  Some of you have started logging in to the app and using it’s features, others are still finding their way – it’s great that you are prepared to try new things!

Everyone who is added to a team receives a “Welcome to Planning Center” email which introduces them to the new platform.  You can access the app from both your phone and a web browser on your computer.

Here’s a short video guide on how to use the app on a phone or tablet:


And here’s a guide for those accessing Services from their computer:

If you prefer to read about it, you can look up instructions here:


The rosters are automatically scheduled each month based on the availability you have indicated.  Prior to generating the roster, I will send an email asking you to block out dates that you are unavailable.  Once the roster is generated, you will receive an email asking you to confirm the times that you have been scheduled for.  You can also sign up for any spots where people are still needed.

It is important that you respond to these emails ASAP in case changes are needed.

I will aim to have a copy of the Sunday morning roster on the noticeboard at church and on the Members area of the website.   Unless you are a team leader, you can only see your own schedule on the app.

Eventually the aim is for each team to have a leader who will look after the scheduling for their team, so that this work is shared out.

Thanks to everyone who is already part of a team for all you do to help us come together in community to worship and serve God through this ministry.  If you have any questions about the app, please let Robyn know and she will do her best to answer (but do look up the support pages first!).

Blessings and Gratitude!


St Luke’s Highton Annual Meeting 2021

St Luke’s Congregational Annual General Meeting will be held at the  conclusion of the Service on Sunday 6 June 2021.

Business will include reports from the Church Council and presentation of St Luke’s budget for 2021.

Kevin McAvaney, Congregational Chairperson