Being small has not stopped the MustardSeed Community in Sydney’s Pyrmont from having a big impact on its local community. Like many of its rural counterparts the MustardSeed has always been small and, perhaps, because of this it has looked for and found its niche – coordinating significant life-events in both Pyrmont and in neighbouring Ultimo. It does things it is good at on a scale it can manage and its community has responded.
The MustardSeed congregation began 15 years ago as a weekly Bible study led by Robin Davies. In the ten years since its recognition as a congregation of the Uniting Church its numbers have grown to somewhere between 20 and 50 people gathering for Sunday worship.
Taking up the story, its current minister, the Reverend David Gore, says this small band of people has a meaningful impact on the Ultimo and Pyrmont communities through public events and the creation of caring community.
We hold a ‘Live Nativity’ in mid-December and with the help of a live donkey, a few sheep and three wonderful camels. Among the otherwise local participants, we remember and retell the nativity story. This event is attended by upwards of 600 people – mostly locals but with an increasing number of outside visitors. We lead the community in carol singing and wondering about a God who might chose to be among us in the most vulnerable of ways.
We also lead is the annual ANZAC morning service in Union Square in Pyrmont. Again we host a crowd of about 600 people along with community and political leaders, as we remember and honour those who have been killed in the theatre of war. Here the focus is on self-giving for the sake of others exemplified by the self-giving of Christ. Small as it is, these two public events give the MustardSeed congregation a great deal of recognition in the community and locals are very appreciative of our leadership.
We also run an op shop with a community focus where people, in addition to a bargain, can find a much appreciated listening ear and practical help. This is particularly appreciated by people on the fringes of our diverse community and on more than one occasion we have had people come to donate and stay to volunteer. Some are also drawn into the worshipping life of the congregation as a natural development of ever-deepening relationships of mutual appreciation, respect and love.
The MustardSeed congregation also works with the Uniting Harris Centre, hosting a number of community groups and activities including a much loved annual Second Hand Saturday – buy, swap and sell – festival. In these ways we show our interest in the well-being and flourishing of the broader community offering spiritual depth to events that are important to everyone.
We are a small church. Not everyone in the community attends our services each week. But most people know we are here and I believe they are glad of the fact.