Paul Clark is leaving a lasting legacy

Published 5:00am 15 April 2024

Paul Clark is leaving a lasting legacy
Words by Kylie Knight

When Redcliffe Uniting Church Senior Minister Paul Clark farewells his congregation this month, after 12 years at the helm, he will leave a lasting legacy of community building.

Paul, his wife Becky and two children arrived on the Peninsula in 2012, a time when Redcliffe was still ‘grieving’ over the council amalgamation which happened in 2008.

“The community was saying how do we get our own identity because we’ve lost Redcliffe City Council. Some of the things we said back then was, ‘how do we as a church help the community have its own identity still?’,” Paul recalls.

“We thought, as a church, how do we become part of the whole community of Redcliffe.”

At the core of Paul’s faith is Jesus’ work in healing people and bringing them together.

“Redcliffe Uniting Church has a really nice history in that they’ve always tried to be community-connected. So, really it was about rediscovering that DNA,” he explains.

The church started attending local events and engaging more with schools.

“For the first six years I was here, we were taking puppet shows to schools in the area,” Paul recalls.

“I built this thing that’s called Redcliffe Care Network that is responsible for bringing a whole lot of community service groups together – The Breakfast Club, Encircle – and doing Christmas hampers.

“It’s bringing groups together to work on stuff together instead of all individually doing our own thing.

“We rebuilt the Redcliffe Church Leaders Network to bring the churches together and work on things like supporting school chaplains.

“More recently, we built RI (religious instruction). We have now employed an RI co-ordinator in schools.”

Paul says the church has also been involved in organising Christmas lunch for people in need for many years and provided community grants thanks to a bequest from Neil Grant, but a much bigger project was on the horizon.

“We built all these connections with community groups, department of communities, uniting care, the legal service and they were telling us, ‘we need a centre where community groups can come together’,” he recalls.

“That planted this seed of a community services hub. We had this bequest, this amazing gift, plus we still had land that was undeveloped. We sat down together and said what can we do to bless this community.

“That was a six-year project and that also happened in the middle of COVID-19, which almost derailed us. I was really proud of the congregation. They actually said, ‘if the community doesn’t need it now, when will they? Now is the time to be bold … our community’s really going to need this at the other end’.

“We pushed through and opened it in 2022.”

Paul Clark is leaving a lasting legacy

Paul says there are 20 organisations who are now based there providing foster and kin care, disability services and supporting at-risk families and children with the department of communities.

“There’s thousands of people coming here every month and it is often the people who are doing it the toughest,” he explains.

The Church has also been part of Encircle’s Moreton Bay Says No to Violence campaign for about eight years, and has built up its playgroup from one day a week to five, engaging 70 families every week.

With his all-in approach to guiding the church through a period of transformation during the past 12 years, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, Paul says he’s ‘come out the other end a bit tired’.

He feels like the time is right to pass the baton to the next minister to take the church on its next journey, and for him to hopefully secure a role helping other churches find their mission within their own communities.

“I’ve been on the playing field for a long time. Now it’s time to coach,” Paul says.

He and wife Becky plan to continue living on the Peninsula and remain part of the community.

A conclusion of ministry service and farewell will be held at Redcliffe Uniting Church on April 21 from 9am. Everyone is welcome.

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