Church looks to community

SATURDAY or weekday services and not the traditional Sunday mass can keep church relevant in country towns, says the new head of Tallangatta’s Christ Church.

Reverend Alan Kelb was inducted as the priest-in-charge on Saturday in front of about 100 people.

But the overflow of support is a far cry from the church’s Sunday services where little more than 10 people attend.

Its dwindling numbers and ageing members saw the group call a crisis meeting earlier this year, stating closure was a real possibility.

The Albury-based Reverend Kelb said Sunday service would always remain but conceded the church had to look at different ways of engaging with the community.

“Society today is a lot busier than what it used to be,” he said.

“The task for us is how do we engage with the community.

“Church could be on another day other than Sunday. It’s all to do with the culture and demographic of the town and meeting the needs of its people.”

Reverend Kelb has committed to doing “most” Sunday services at Tallangatta but will divide his time between St Matthew’s Church and the Northern Albury Anglican Parish where he also works.

He said combining church groups was another way to keep interest in the community.

“A lot of country parishes do struggle so being linked to other parishes can help,” Reverend Kelb said.

“Service could even happen outside of church.

“Lots of people would never go away from the normal Sunday service but today we need to explore different ways of engaging in community — like over coffee.”

He said the decision of Tallangatta’s Anglican community to keep the church open was a good sign.

“(The Church) made a decision to hang in there and make it work and keep an Anglican presence in the town,” Reverend Kelb said.

“The current parishes are very supportive and keen to see it grow.”