Christmas can be a time when people experience profound loneliness – the increased calls we receive to Lifeline Sydney & Sutherland attest to that fact. Social isolation and loneliness are significant health and wellbeing issues because of the impact they have on people’s lives.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that 1 in 3 Australians experienced periods of loneliness, and surveys taken since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic show that 54% of respondents said they feel more lonely. This is just one of the reasons why Wesley Mission has embarked on an ambitious plan to intentionally develop friendship and faith communities in Sydney and in regional NSW. Created in the image of God, we were created for community – to enjoy deep connections with others.
We have developed a new ‘Missional Communities’ team to explore these opportunities, working alongside community service teams, including Wesley Community Housing. The Missional Communities team brings workers with diverse social work, pastoral and intercultural ministry skills to build connections and make space for people to discuss the deeper things in life, including spiritual matters.
At Wesley Mission, we believe that when people encounter Jesus, their lives will be transformed. That’s why we long for our new missional communities to be places where people have the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to Jesus’ offer of life in abundance.
Hamilton South near Newcastle is an example of a community building stronger connections, working together to reduce loneliness and social isolation. We recently held a Christmas party for our tenants in Wesley Community Housing, and some of them shared their stories in this video
As Gordon says, ‘no one should be alone at Christmas’. And ultimately, we hope to see very local communities – where people know each other and are known – becoming beacons of hope in suburbs and estates that have been stigmatised or disconnected from the broader community for many years.
This story is part of a special program that will be on TV at 10 am on Christmas Day, airing on the Nine Network – Channel 9, WIN and NBN across Australia. ‘Home for Christmas’ invites Australia to journey with Wesley Mission’s frontline workers to meet some of the people we have supported to find secure housing and rediscover their self-worth and life goals. It is also another way to connect with people on Christmas morning to let them know they are loved and not alone.
If you’re in Sydney on Christmas Day, you’re invited to join our Christmas celebrations at the Wesley Centre at 220 Pitt Street. Join our Christmas Day service at 10 am, after which we will be serving a buffet Christmas Lunch from 12 noon. You can book your place today, or if finances are tight, we’d love to welcome you as our special guest free of charge. All the information you need is available on our website.
This Christmas season, my prayer for you and those you love is that you would experience the love, joy, peace and hope that was demonstrated so vividly in the birth of Jesus and which is available today to all who would believe and place their trust in him.
Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission