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Building the kingdom one chat at a time in Gladstone


Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett (left) enjoys a conversation with Mick Evans, Community Engagement Officer for Gladstone Corps, at the barbecue set-up at the Philip Street Precinct.
Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett (left) enjoys a conversation with Mick Evans, Community Engagement Officer for Gladstone Corps, at the barbecue set-up at the Philip Street Precinct.

BY CLIFF WORTHING

Conversations based around values of dignity and respect in order to build the kingdom of God are the whole purpose of Kingdom Chat Rooms, according to Captain Chris Ford, Manager of Philip Street Communities and Families Precinct in Gladstone, Queensland.

Each week, 70 to 80 people come for a meal and chat at the Philip Street community hub. Chris said they used to have the Kingdom Chat Room at the corps building but relaunched it after COVID restrictions so that participants could access the full range of services available at the hub.


“Our Kingdom Chat Room is highly missional and restorative,” Chris said. “It is a warm entry to faith, based on beautiful, quality conversations.”


There are always two or three Christians in attendance, and staff from other services wander through informally to engage participants in conversation. Chris said many people come for the food, to meet others because they are lonely, and many don’t really know why they are there initially but receive help. He sa

Mick Evans sets up for the weekly meal and conversations at the Kingdom Chat Room in Gladstone.
Mick Evans sets up for the weekly meal and conversations at the Kingdom Chat Room in Gladstone.

id the format helps people find assistance for themselves.


Chris gave examples of people who were suicidal or experiencing family violence who were able to find help with multiple services that they didn’t even know existed. One such person came for a psychologist appointment and was referred to the Salvos for food relief. Another young person came for a meal but now cooks for the group. Some are beginning to engage with the church, and many more with the rest of the community.


Volunteers weren’t sure how they could have quality conversations in the beginning, but now they know all they have to do is just talk to people, according to Chris. Some even have the opportunity to pray with participants.

“It’s such a safe place that we don’t even need to promote it,” Chris said. “We can offer hope because there is always hope.”

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