In the fifth and final of this series of five article on Twin Towns, Tweed Heads, Coolangatta - it might not be such a bad idea to consider surveying the numbers of people who attend Christian worship.
We relocated from Moruya on the south coast of New South Wales to Tweed Heads on the far north coast of New South Wales at the end of 2005, to discover there were eleven Pentecostal congregations between the Gold Coast airport environs at Tugun-Coolagantta - all the way south to Kingscliff-Cabarita.
Since that time a number of those Pentecostal churches have closed their doors and a number of others have sprung up. One of those Pentecostal churches that ran into trouble initially found itself in drama over their Christian School principal fiddling the student numbers for the Government schools pay-outs. That led to other complications and eventually the church building was put under the auctioneer's hammer.
Originally that church had a primary school, a high school, a beautiful set of church buildings, a working cafe and restaurant, a view of a magnificent man made lake, and many splendid programs.
Another Pentecostal pastor set up a church in a community centre. Many people came and one of the congregation members won a television talent competition. It's numbers are growing.
Another Pentecostal church fell into the doldrums after losing their brilliant and fired-up pastor who was a man of uncanny wisdom, and the congregation signed up to one of the larger Sydney Pentecostal Franchises, changed their name, and they seem to be on the road to recovery. This church feeds many homeless and destitute people several mornings each week.
Another church was initiated in Tugun and it grew so exponentially, that the senior minister, initiated another congregation further up the coast. Like any area, there is a mix of positive and negative stories associated with Pentecostal congregations.
The main line Protestant scene is more stable. Churches of Christ sold up their prime site in Tweed Heads and purchased an indoor stadium complete with offices, cafe and car park. They have since added to the building and using it as an income earner while worshipping Sunday morning's in a nearby school hall.
The Lindesfarme Anglican School recently secured a new chaplain to also initiate a church in the Terranora area. When he turned up he was a padre who sported bright red socks and riding a powerful motor bike. People are returning to church.
The Baptist church at Cabarita had not had a pastor for 4 years and finally got their man, a Minister they'd been trying to get for the past two years. His notoriety for building congregations from 'almost scratch' is phenomenal. Within two weeks of coming he had over tripled the congregation from 20 to over 65. His plans are to meet the needs of the 55,000 extra people coming into the Tweed over the next 15 years.
The Presbyterian's had two congregations, one in Tweed Heads, another in Kingscliff but their sprightly and insightful Minister recognised that many of those who might dare to call themselves Presbyterian's found Sundays too difficult to meet. So he initiated a Wednesday night church at Terranora and it's now grown to well over 70 regular attenders.
Getting the mix right in a Protestant church can be problematic. One particular Tweed congregation has a great all-purpose facility and working cafe and everything they have tried has not produced any numerical growth over the past 6 years. Meanwhile the Banora Point Baptist church secured a new minister with a remarkable reputation as a mover and shaker. It grew from a handful when he came to now almost 300.
Tugun Baptist oldies gave their building ‘holus=bolus’ to a fresh young group of Baptists worshipping in a SE Qld school hall. Name change was in order to the ‘Living Temple Christian Church’ shortened to CT. They have since planted a church in Coolangatta which is also going gang-busters. It’s all happening.
In the Tweed there is also a plethora of home church groups who have felt that the mainstream big church program really isn't for them, and have initiated small home group fellowships, which in turn borne additional home group fellowships. Their monies 'donated to the Lord' go largely to Missions.
When checking out the Tweed Heads Coolangatta Christian scene it's a mixed bag like any other community in Australia. While the Tweed region struggles for "bums on seats" in their churches, it's noted it is next door to the largest church attending region in the nation (Gold Coast). This statistic is shared between the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, where 20% of their residential population meet for the worship of Jesus Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 44 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 44 years with 4 children and 5 grand children