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History of the Formation of Manly Street Pastors

In early 2009, The Manly Ministers Association, representing 10 local churches, had been discussing over several months if, and how, the churches could respond to the increasing reputation of Manly after dark as a binge drinking culture with a high incidence of crime and violence.

Around about this time the Ministers also became aware of how much ratepayers money was being spent in seeking to manage the situation and felt challenged about the need to enter discussion with authorities to be part of the answer in seeing Manly transformed. A steering committee was decided on with the brief to develop strategies to ‘transform Manly after dark with the love of Christ’. In July and August the committee held discussions with the local council and police who welcomed whatever part the churches felt they could play in seeing Manly change. At this stage we didn’t know what it was God wanted us to do. One of the options canvassed was providing wholesome family style entertainment early in the evening, but in discussion with the General Manager and the Superintendent of the Police we were challenged about the community’s greatest need and that was between the hours of 11pm and 3am. We felt that God was calling us to something sustained and sacrificial that would involve the Church in being on the streets in the hours that would make a tangible difference. The steering committee began investigating various church based volunteer chaplaincy models around Australia that have begun in response to a similar situation. We also became aware of the UK based ‘Street Pastors’ begun by the Ascension Trust. We were particularly drawn to their ecumenical approach, their emphasis on working closely with local government and police, and their ethos of caring, listening and helping.

In August 2009 we had a significant meeting at which over 100 church members from a number of churches gathered to hear a vision of making a difference in the streets of Manly after dark. We presented ‘Street Pastors’ as one such model that we may adopt in responding to the situation. The Superintendent of Police as well as Council members were also given opportunity to speak. A partnership had begun and we knew that with this momentum and unity there was no turning back. In November the Manly Ministers Association endorsed a proposal from the steering committee to adopt the ‘Street Pastors’ model as a combined churches response to the issues facing Manly After dark. Then in January 2010, the newly formed Street Pastors management committee, licensed by the Ascension Trust in the UK, commenced the first module of Street Pastor training.

The community of churches in Manly have a long history of working together to see transformation and have over that time built significant rapport with community leadership. We are excited about how God will use this initiative to transform Manly after dark with the love of Christ.

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    Contact: Deborah Patenall

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What is a Street Pastor?

Street pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community.

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Check out the International Street Pastors website.