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Ending reliance on U.S. dollars one goal of Australian trust

Fostering strong, indigenous leaders and ending reliance on funds from the United States are two goals of the Australian church of Christ Evangelistic Trust, launched in May by church members in Australia.
“For too long, we have looked to American churches for financial support,” said David Mowday, elder for the Gosford church, near Sydney, and chairman of the trust. He and four other Gosford members worked for more than a year to establish the trust. Though all are members of the Gosford church, they emphasize that it is not the ministry of a single congregation.
David Payne, a deacon at Gosford and the trust’s finance director, said that he and fellow trustees hope to raise $250,000 before they accept the first grant applications.
Among the goals trustees have for the funds are: supporting local evangelists, compensating full-time workers, training preachers, sponsoring domestic and international missions and supporting schools of biblical studies.

The Australian Christians modeled the trust after the Bell Trust, a United States-based organization established in 1956 to assist congregations associated with churches of Christ in the advancement of religious, missionary and charitable works.

The Australian trustees have raised $36,000 thus far and hope that church members will consider the trust in estate planning. “Use your will to achieve His will,” is one of the trust’s slogans.

The church members also are banking on individual contributions, said Gosford elder and trustee John Stone. “If a thousand Christians committed to giving $10 a week to the Trust, the target could be achieved in less than a year,” he said.

Australian church leaders hope that the trust will help foster church growth on the continent, home to about 80 churches of Christ ranging in Sunday attendance from two to 130.

When asked about the biggest challenges facing Australian churches, “vision” and “leadership” were frequent answers given by local ministers, said Stephen Randall, evangelist and elder for the church in Australia’s capital, Canberra.

“Many churches in Australia have viability problems because of isolation and a lack of mature leadership,” Randall told the Chronicle in a 2003 interview. “We lack the sense that we are part of an advancing brotherhood.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, see www.acocet.org.au.

Filed under: International

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