Faced with the problem of an older congregation and a dearth of young people, All Saints’ Mitcham took a long term view and planned for the future, starting with what it had: baptisms.

“We started with the baptismal families and thought if we could provide for those children, and retain contact with them, eventually we would have the beginnings of a youth group,” said the Vicar, the Revd Dianne Sharrock. “It’s a chicken and egg problem – if you don’t have young families it’s hard to attract them.”

All Saints’ has been offering two sessions weekly of Mainly Music, a program for young children and parents or carers which has proved popular. There is also a monthly Messy Church, still in its fledgling stage.

“The children we began with years ago are now reaching late primary and we realised we needed to be able to offer them a youth group with appropriate activities,” Dianne said. “We canvassed the families who did attend church and asked whether they would be interested in such a group and they all said yes, so we applied to the Melbourne Anglican Foundation for a grant to support a youth minister.”

The grant was made and Catherine Strempel, at University training to be a primary teacher, began her ministry at All Saints’ last
September. She is employed for 10 hours per week.

Dianne is full of praise for Catherine’s faith commitment, enthusiasm and expertise. Youth Group (for those 10 and over) runs
fortnightly on Friday evenings from 5 to 8.30pm. A meal is supplied by the parish for the cost of $5 and Catherine prepares a  range of craft and other activities, as well as taking the members on some excursions. She is also mentoring two teenagers as co-leaders of the group.

Through the Foundation’s grant, youth ministry at All Saints’ can continue from late primary into secondary level, and youth  eaders can be grown for the future. Dianne is also considering opening up the group to the Mandarin,  Korean and Southern Indian congregations associated with the parish, which would provide a wider pool of young people on which to draw.

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