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There’s something for everyone at Wagga Wagga Salvos


The Wagga Wagga Corps’ Thursday men’s coffee and chat group is a space where men can talk about a range of issues, pray and support each other.

 BY LAUREN MARTIN

 

Salvationists at Wagga Wagga in southern NSW are spoiled for choice when it comes to connecting with God. The corps has a variety of church expressions that run throughout the week.

 

“We try to do something every day that is an expression of church,” says Auxiliary-Lieutenant David Hopewell. This involves the gathered worshipping community that meets on Sunday mornings, as well as various community outreach groups, ministries and missional activities.

 

“Each one of them is an expression of church.”

 

Salvos Store Community Table

On Tuesdays, the local Wagga Wagga Salvos Store is transformed into a meeting place for up to 20 shoppers who like to sit down, have a cuppa, and discuss the ‘big question of the day’.


Wagga Wagga Salvos Store is transformed into a social gathering location, with a community table set up in the middle of the store for everyone to join in discussion and a cuppa.

Auxiliary-Lieutenant Val Hopewell calls it a ‘community table’, and everyone is invited to sit down at the row of three long trestle tables that Salvos Stores staff help set up every week to accommodate the group. The tables run right through the centre of the store, making it easy for shoppers to join in the fun and conversation and make new friends.

 

“We use The Salvation Army’s ‘Pass the Salt’ [conversation] cards and also do colouring-in,” she says. “We have colouring cards with a psalm printed on them that people can take home and put on their fridge or somewhere.”


Colouring and conversation are at the heart of the Wagga Wagga Salvation Army’s community table at the local Salvos Store once a week.

The ‘Pass the Salt’ conversation cards have questions about life, faith, the world around us and relationships. Each week, Val chooses one to be the ‘big question of the day’, and that sets the direction for meaningful conversations.


The community table comprises community members and some members of the corps. As relationships have deepened with regular attendees, there have been conversations about faith, prayer and following Jesus. Some people from the weekly Community Table have also started coming to the Sunday gathered worshipping community.

 

Men’s fellowships

On Thursdays a local coffee shop is the location for church. David runs a men’s group where “we talk about life and support each other,” he says. It started with just three men and has grown to eight regulars. Topics include health issues, grief issues and changes in circumstances. Listening and prayer are at the heart of this expression of church.

 

Running a men’s breakfast ministry had also been on David’s heart, but he struggled to find the time or volunteer resources to start it. “Then, one of the guys from Generosity Church here in Wagga contacted me and said, ‘We have a men’s breakfast. Do you want to join us?’” Now, many men from Wagga Wagga Salvos, including David, attend the Generosity Church Men’s Breakfast ministry, and from that, friendships have been formed and social activities planned like motor-biking and camping.

 

“It’s great!” says David.

 

Prayer a central pillar

The corps’ Home League is made up of “prolific prayer warriors”, says Val, “who raise funds for mission and are a close support to one another in good and challenging days.”

 

A Tuesday night Conversational Prayer Meeting at the corps is also well attended. Various prayer resources are used, and those who attend pray for prayer requests left in the prayer boxes at the local Salvos Store and Doorways Centre.


On the last week of the month, Wagga Wagga Corps changes its Sunday fellowship meeting to a meeting of ‘huddles’ (discipleship groups.)

And on the last week of the month, the corps’ meeting is a meeting of ‘huddles’ (discipleship groups), and on the alternate month, the theme is ‘Open House’, which Val says is “fellowship, food and fun with a 4pm start and a shared meal and casual focus so people can invite friends.”

 

It’s all about connecting

Being intentional about building strong connections and having meaningful conversations is the key difference between running a community group and facilitating a space where people can encounter Jesus.

 

“Even our Mainly Music Group,” says David, “that’s their church,” he says of the people who attend.

 

The Wagga Wagga Salvos Street Outreach Ministry connects with people experiencing homelessness and hardship at various locations during its night-time food run. “That’s their church,” says David, about the hot cuppa and intentional chats and prayers that are shared every week during that ministry.

 

Such strong relationships have been formed in the four years since the outreach started that the team plans to expand the service to two nights per week “and maybe set up our new food trailer in the corps carpark one night a week for a sit-down meal.”

 

The different expressions of church at Wagga Wagga Salvos are a beautiful example of The Salvation Army being the missional movement that God raised it up to be when William Booth walked out of his Methodist Church building to create a new church of inclusion. Wagga Wagga Salvation Army is the body of Christ, active in the community, partnering with others, and sharing life, love and Jesus.


Auxiliary-Lieutenant Val Hopewell (back right) with the Wagga Wagga Corps Home League.




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