Scroll down to find information on the following:
- The Sunday Worship Service
- Communion, Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper
- Daily Praise & Prayer
- Community Meals
- Small Group Gatherings
- Church Camp
- Church Business Meetings
- Church Discussion in Cyberspace
- Seasons and Festivals of the Church Year
- Ecumenical Services
- Pastoral Care and Counsel
- Spiritual Formation
- Psychological Counselling
The Sunday Worship Service
5:00 pm Sunday, in the Church’s main hall
The major regular gathering of the church is the Sunday Worship Service, also known as the Eucharist. This service, and the meal that follows it, is the time when most of the people involved in the church are all together at once, and so it is perhaps the best time to get a feel for what is going on in the church as a whole.
In this service we are drawn with all creation into communion with God. We find ourselves welcomed to the banquet table of heaven to be fed with the bread of life and the wine of the new age which sustain us and nourish our growth into the fullness of life in Christ.
Sensory aids such as icons, incense, candles and music help us to worship as whole beings. A cycle of scripture readings ensures that we are kept in contact with the earliest foundations of our faith. A “sermon of silence” gives us the quiet space to allow God to reach us. Prepared prayers help imprint the rhythms of prayer into our hearts, thus equipping us to live throughout each week in the thankful spirit of the Eucharist.
Our worship is shaped by structures that have stood the test of time. It weaves the wisdom of our forebears with the vitality of our own experience to create liturgies that have the power to awaken within us the memory of our ancient destiny, and lead us into communion with the one who restores within us the dignity and integrity with which we were created.
This service does not suit everyone and most people find it a bit disorienting the first time, especially if they are new to this style of worship. However those who come regularly have found that it has led them into a much richer prayer life and a far deeper experience of God than they had previously known.
A published essay describing and analysing our worship service in more detail is available to read online or download here.
Communion, Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper
Communion is shared every week during the Sunday worship service.
The ancient Christian ritual of sharing bread and cup is one of the most important components of our worship. At the table, Jesus Christ gives himself to us to nourish us for fullness of life. This also reminds us of the presence of Christ in all things and especially in the gathered church. It celebrates God’s gift in Christ and recalls the suffering and death that made resurrection and new life possible.
In this church, everybody who loves Christ and wants to follow him is invited to participate in Communion. Children too can share in this celebration.
Real wine is used in communion, and pure water is available for those who cannot drink strong wine for any reason. Some early Christian communities only used water. Our delicious hand-made communion bread is fully gluten-free.
Daily Praise & Prayer
Our lives have been deeply scarred by the pain and bitterness around us and within us, and we are now convinced that it is only the healing Spirit of Jesus Christ that can restore our wholeness and holiness.
Such renewal requires the discipline of regular times for silence and prayer, for we need shelter from noise and insanity to hear the whisperings in our hearts. Only as we listen regularly, with our minds attuned by the hearing of scripture and participation in the liturgy, can we learn to discern which of those whisperings are healing words of counsel from the Spirit of God.
Times of structured prayer and contemplation take place in our chapel on occasions when people are able to gather, but most of us, being unable to be there, participate in this rhythm of shared prayer in online gatherings that take place three times a day. We publish a book of resources for praying alone or in small groups. If you haven’t seen it, ask for the Daily Prayer Book.
Our Prayer Chapel is usually left open for personal prayer and reflection or small group prayer gatherings. It is accessed through the carport at the rear of the church.
6:30 pm after the worship service each Sunday, except during the season of Lent.
A regular social time to get to know each other better over a simple meal – usually just soup or salads and bread, dips, and cheese. Regular attenders take it in turns to provide the soup or salad.
Small Group Gatherings
As part of our quest to nurture faith and fullness of life in one another, we seek to create opportunities to gather in smaller groups at times outside our usual Sunday worship gatherings. Most of these small group gatherings do not require a regular commitment, but are all one-off events which are announced and can be attended by anyone who is available on that date. These events can take any form, but there are some common ones that we are encouraging and promoting.
One is the Story Sharing Event, in which one person agrees to share something of the story of their own life and discipleship, and to invite questions and discussion around their story. In this way we all get to learn about what following Jesus looks like in the context of a real person’s normal day to day life. We have some resources and guidelines available for the preparation of these events, but people are free to conduct them any way they like. These events often happen in the story-teller’s home, and sometimes include a bring-a-plate shared meal, but they could also happen in a cafe, a workplace, a park, or at the church.
Another type of gathering is the one-off Book Club, where someone puts out an open invitation for anyone from SYCBaps to read a particular book on a topic of interest in preparation for a gathering to discuss our learnings and reactions to its content.
Another type of gathering is the Worship Visit, where someone puts out an open invitation for anyone from SYCBaps to join them in a visit to a worship service in another church, or even of another faith tradition. This will often be followed by gathering over coffee or lunch to discuss what we observed and learned from the experience, and how it might inform our practice in our own lives or our own church.
Another type of gathering is the Shared Action, where someone puts out an open invitation for anyone from SYCBaps to join them to participate as volunteers in an activity of social service, social outreach, protest, or social justice activism.
If you are interested in finding out more about these small group gatherings, please speak to one of the pastors or a member of the Host Group, or just stay tuned for announcements of the next one.
We hold a church camp each year, usually in late August at Araluen in Anglesea, about an hour and a half from Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road. Our camp is not a heavy time of study, but a mixture of free time and casually organised activities with an emphasis on getting to know one another and enjoying one another’s company. It is also one of the few times that we get to enjoy praying our daily prayer liturgies with the whole group. On the Sunday, we hold a special Eucharist liturgy at the camp and there is no service at the church in South Yarra on that day.
Church Business Meetings
There is an AGM held each September, and congregational discernment meetings held at other times as required.
Our church is governed by these meetings of the members, gathered to prayerfully discern the leading of Christ. We are not seeking to simply determine the will of the majority, but to prayerfully discern the will of God. It is not uncommon for us to see people vote against their own personal preference when they recognise that God is asking them to put aside their own interests in favour of what God is wanting to do among us. Everyone who is involved in the church is welcome to participate in the discussion in our Church business meetings, but where a formal vote is required, only official church members may vote.
Most of the day-to-day discernment and decision making required for the running of the church has been delegated to a leadership group known as the Host Group, and you can learn more about them on the Who’s Who page. The Host Group publish their decisions after each meeting and, where possible, allow a “cooling off period” to allow for other members of the congregation to raise any questions or concerns before the decisions are acted upon.
Church Discussion in Cyberspace
With our congregation scattered all over the metropolitan area, it is not easy to get together as often as we might like to discuss all the issues that can come up in the course of our common life, prayer and ministry, so cyberspace is our friend. We run an email discussion list, which everyone involved in our congregation is welcome to participate in. If you have been with us for more than a few weeks and you haven’t been invited to join it yet, it is certainly just on oversight, so don’t be afraid to ask.
As well as discussion about church issues, this email list is also where many important announcements and prayer requests are shared.
Seasons and Festivals of the Church Year
This church has chosen to observe the major seasons of the traditional church year. We have found this to be a helpful way of experiencing over time the movement and feelings of the Christian story. The main seasons are as follows:
Advent – A season of four weeks leading up to Christmas and focussing on hope and expectation of the coming Christ. We symbolise this with the colour blue and lighting candles.
Christmas – A season of 12 days beginning on December 25th and celebrating the miracle of God becoming human among us. Colour – White.
Lent – A season of 40 days (plus Sundays) ending on Good Friday. It focusses on the costly nature of the Christian journey. Colour – purple.
Pascha (Easter) – A season of 50 days beginning on Easter Sunday and celebrating resurrection and new life. The colour is gold.
Pentecost – Beginning on the Day of Pentecost (the 50th day of Pascha) we celebrate this season until our Church Anniversary on June 18th. It celebrates the empowering presence of God’s Spirit in the church and the world.
Between Christmas and Lent, and Pentecost and Advent there are seasons of ordinary time.
We are one of four churches in South Yarra that share together in worship at least four times a year. The services are held in the usual style of the hosting congregation, so that we can learn to appreciate the gifts of one another’s traditions, but the preacher and Bible readers are always from the other churches. The four services are as follows:
- The Feast of Epiphany, 6th January, hosted by us.
- The Feast of the Ascension, on a Thursday 40 days after Easter Sunday, hosted by Christ Church Anglican Parish, South Yarra.
- The Feast of the Transfiguration, 6th August, hosted by the St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.
- All Saints Day, 1st November, hosted by the St Martin’s Anglican Church, Hawksburn.
Pastoral Care and Counsel
This church has appointed a pastor whose responsibilities include providing Christian leadership and pastoral care and counselling to people involved in the church. The aim is to encourage people to grow in their faith and their openness to God’s liberating and fulfilling influence in their lives.
The pastor is not a psychologist, and so where people need more specialised counselling, he will recommend appropriate professional services. You can find contact details for the pastor here, and appointments can be made to meet with him in any location that suits you.
A well integrated spirituality and a healthy prayer life are not things that we automatically acquire. They are things that develop with practice over time and their growth can be fostered by structured programs of spiritual formation.
Different people will have different needs in these areas. Some people will find that the church’s regular worship life and education program offer enough inspiration and direction. Others will find that that need individual guidance from others in the church who have acquired greater proficiency in the spiritual disciplines. Some people will want to seek expert help them to go further and deeper in their spiritual formation. For those seeking expert help, we recommend the WellSpring Centre which offers quiet days, seminars, meditations on scripture, retreats, and personal spiritual direction. It is committed to providing space and support within a Christian context to people of all faiths who wish to deepen their awareness of God’s presence. The WellSpring Centre is located in specially designed facilities at the Ashburton Baptist Church, just 15 minutes drive from South Yarra.
Psychological counselling is a valuable resource for personal and spiritual development. This is especially true where a recurring problem in our emotional or behavioural responses is causing us problems and hindering our growth and development. Counselling may be sought individually, or as a couple or family for relationship issues.
At present, this church does not offer a psychological counselling service, but can recommend and refer you to others who are not too far away. Don’t be afraid to ask the pastor for recommendations. We also have a couple of psychologists in our congregation who have a good knowledge of who to recommend.