MONDAY’S PEOPLE: Bringing the gift of hope to community

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FRESH START: New signage is all part of Pastor Aaron Wardle and the Wangaratta Baptist Church’s plan to become more recognisable in the community. PHOTO: Anita McPherson

WITHIN a month of arriving in Wangaratta with his family in April last year, Pastor Aaron Wardle decided to join the Wangaratta Concert Band.

The passionate musician who plays the French horn soon found himself conducting the band, and was then asked to consider becoming its president – a role he was happy to take on.

Getting immersed in the local community and sharing his experience and his musical gift, is something he’s happy to do.

“I love being vitally involved in our local community – it’s one way I can be involved personally in bringing the hope of Jesus into the community – and I’m happy to serve,” he said.

“That passion, that desire to see this local community of faith flourish and thrive, is what has brought us here.”

Aaron, his wife Kellie and children Joshua (11) and Sarina (eight) have made a “tree-change” from the Melbourne suburb of Frankston, where they lived for seven years, answering the call for Aaron to become the new pastor at the Wangaratta Baptist Church.

The couple first married and lived in Hobart, before moving to Adelaide and then to Melbourne, but this is the first time they have lived as a family in a rural area.

Aaron said his family have settled comfortably into a home on a few acres at the edge of town and after being used to the nightmare that is Melbourne traffic, he marvels that it only takes him a few minutes to drive to church.

“We love the pace of life up here,” he said.

“The children are really loving it – they’re having fun outside, jumping on their bikes and riding on the bike tracks – and they’re really enjoying school (at St Bernard’s).”

It’s been a few years since the Wangaratta Baptist Church had a resident senior pastor, with interim pastors having looked after the congregation temporarily until an official appointment was made.

In recent times the church has also moved from its former location near Woolworths where it had been since 1904, to its new home near the train line in Sisely Avenue.

Now at the helm for the long term, over the past four months Aaron has been working with the whole church community to determine its vision and focus for the future.

He said he was initially concerned there weren’t many families involved in the local church, so he’s been pleased to see more have joined since their arrival.

“We’ve determined that our focus is going to be on bringing hope to the North East and it’s great to see the church growing,” he said.

“You turn on the news at six o’clock at night and see bulletin after bulletin of hopeless situations and terrible circumstances, like the sense of hopelessness surrounding the climate and our environment.

“But there is a beacon of hope that is shining into our world – and that is Jesus – so our church is now focusing on how it can bring hope to our community in a world that is so lacking in it.”

Aaron said the church was safe space where families could feel welcome, interact with others and relax, leaving their worries and concerns at the door, and where people could just be themselves.

“Churches are a family and we can be that hub for families, for single people and for lonely people – there’s a place for everyone here, there is no judgement and everyone is welcome.”

To find out more visit the church on Facebook.

This post is part of the thread: Monday’s People – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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