Anglicans in the Australian diocese of Perth are calling on others across the Communion to join them in giving newcomers from overseas a warm Christian welcome.
Founders of Perth diocese’s CONNECT scheme are so excited by the success of their project that they are hoping other dioceses around Australia and the world will want to follow suit.
“We began CONNECTPerth in February 2008 after a small group of people at our church decided to organise a meeting for newcomers to our corner of Australia,” explains co-founder Deborah Protter. “At our first event we interviewed people newly arrived in the area and we asked them what they needed most. The answer had a common theme: friendship, help and guidance.
“People wanted someone to be with them in their time of transition, to show them how to live in their new home of Perth. They wanted someone to show them where the shops were, how to join local playgroups, find babysitters, join local clubs. They wanted people to spend time with them at weekends. They wanted a friend.”
The CONNECTPerth team ran small welcome groups in their homes and held CONNECTPerth events about every six weeks. Within two years they were running four groups including a Women’s CONNECT group. Over the two years they held about twenty events and connected more than 100 families and individuals from the UK, South Africa, India, Philippines, South America, USA, Germany and Italy, and from other states in Australia.
Amanda from South Africa said the group had been a lifeline when her family first arrived in Australia: “Shell-shocked, lonely, out of control and totally miserable—that is where I was at when I was embraced by CONNECT. I had been in Perth for two weeks. Gavin had been away working for the second time leaving me in a two bedroom apartment in the city with full blown bronchitis, two miserable little boys, no community, and no Mum!
“I was probably at the lowest point of my entire life and I desperately wanted to board a plane and go home back to South Africa. That is when CONNECTPerth stepped in. It was just what I needed: a group of people that were really interested in us and in helping us get up on our feet. When our furniture finally arrived and we moved into our home CONNECT volunteers were right in the middle of it - determined to find my kettle and in the process unpacking my entire kitchen.”
Deborah said that while Christians in all countries are traditionally welcoming to strangers CONNECT offers more intense and structured support through the wider church community.
“This scheme has made a world of difference to people visiting our country for the first time. We believe that welcoming strangers is what the Bible tells us to do, and also that CONNECT demonstrates God’s love in action.”
For more information about the CONNECT scheme please contact Deborah Protter on email@example.com
Related News Entries