Connecting with kids and their families has been part of the DNA of Bayside from the very beginning. One of our earliest community connection ministries was a kids club held during the Sydney Olympics on the Village Green in Liberty Grove. Before even commencing Sunday gatherings we were looking for ways to build community.
Holiday kids clubs continued in various forms including Kids Day Out - an activity day held at least once per year on the Pupil Free Days at the beginning of school term. They were a fun way to connect with kids we have met through KLAG and kids who had been part of mainly music.
When Newington Public School began in 2002, Bayside worked with the School Principal to consider what SRE could like in a new school. The name KLAG was created – Kids Learning About God. Since than a significant number of Baysiders have served as scripture teachers at Newington Public School, Homebush West Public School and Concord West Public School. We have also had at least 1 teacher involved in SRE at Wentworth Point, Victoria Avenue, North Strathfield, Marie Bashir, Homebush and Lidcombe Public Schools. Amazing to think how many students have explored the big story of the Bible alongside Bayside’s scripture teachers over the last 19 years. Bayside has been part of many school fairs the number of temporary tattoos applied must number in the 1000’s.
Our involvement in local schools has also included supporting 2 School Chaplains. Nicole Regan was the first chaplain (Community Support Coordinator) to serve at Concord West Public School. Rachel Li also served at Concord West alongside her staff role and we have continued to provide funding toward a chaplain at Concord West. Chris Prouty has served faithfully at Homebush West school as a chaplain before such roles even existed and continues in this role caring for and connecting the community with our financial support.
The staff of Homebush West, Newington, Concord West Public and Concord High have been the recipients of many “Boost Packs” providing a note of encouragement alongside some much needed caffeine and chocolate. As well as Easter and Christmas food hampers, coffee vouchers and offers of prayer. One Principal said that whenever the boost packs arrived in the pidgeon holes of the staff he noticed the morale of the teachers lift
We experimented with running a “Mother’s of Preschoolers” Group at Newington Community Centre in 2002/2003. In 2006 Bayside began mainly music at the Rhodes Community Centre (this was previously Rhodes Public School). We quickly outgrew the facility and moved mainly music to Newington Community Centre. We met and shared life with so many local families through this ministry. mainly music gave us consistent connection with families and through this ministry care was given and received many times over – meals, babysitting, compassion and comfort in times of grief, sharing stories of heartache and hope.
Louise Bartlett, Carolyn Schache and Rhonda Lin led this ministry through its different seasons alongside the many team generous and capable members. In 2018 the decision was made to pause mainly music and consider what next. Pandemics and staff changes have meant this discussion has been on hold for a while but the heart to share life with families remains.
For a number of years Bayside ran a Party Day each term on a Sunday morning. These were memory-making events filled with fun and adventure with themes like Amazing Race and Master Chef and visits from a Hip Hop Dance crew, the Fire Brigade, and reptiles. This was a day to invite friends to have some fun together. Alongside some of these party days we would host a parenting seminar or have people interacting with parents who had brought their child along for the day.
Glen Spencer and Mel Wellings began youth ministry at Bayside at Newington Community Centre in 2003. In 2005 we called our first Youth Pastor Joel Noonan who alongside a team led what became known as Crosseyed, continuing to meet at Newington Community Centre and then later at Newington Public School before moving to Arthur Street with some fabulous leaders both voluntary and paid, including Rachel Li, Tom Burton, Erin Burton, Vinny Do, James and Yana Burton and many more.
Crosseyed continues to be a safe fun space for teens to explore and deepen faith.
When Bayside began one of our key priorities was kids and their families. Our heart was to provide great programs to nurture faith. Energy and time was given to providing ministry for kids that was engaging, relevant and helped them carry the big God story.
Over time however our hearts expanded and we realized that it wasn’t just ministry for kids we wanted to provide. We came to see children and young people as vital members of our faith community. We became a more intergenerational community where all the generations were valued and connections between them were strengthened. We have gone from being a church that provides great ministry for kids, to be a church that serves alongside kids and young people but also receives significantly from children and young people that together we might become fully devoted followers of Jesus.