Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

City Keeps Faith with Christianity

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

City Keeps Faith with Christianity

Article excerpt

Byline: Megan Masters

BIG CROWD: No other event on Toowoomba's annual calendar can attract the kind of numbers that Easterfest manages, making Toowoomba the home of Australia's largest Christian-influenced festival.

DON'T think God has gone away in Toowoomba.

Census after census tells us that an increasing number of Australians nominate that they have C[pounds sterling]no religionC[yen].

At last count, close to four million Aussies (almost 20 per cent of the population) declared that they cared not for any faith.

But in Toowoomba, God Co at least the Christian one Co still matters very much. About 80 per cent of the city's souls describe themselves as Christians with non-believers trailing badly at just 10 per cent.

The size of congregations turning out for prayer every Sunday in Toowoomba may have declined in the past four decades, although there's no arguing that an overwhelming proportion of the city's citizens still keep their faith in their back pockets.

Toowoomba, more than most other cities, still ascribes to God through a mix of traditional and charismatic churches, with the revivalist churches in the ascendancy but with the lion's share going to Catholicism, Anglicanism, Uniting Church, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism in that order.

The city is arguably the most religious in Australia, a claim borne out by the overwhelming success of Easterfest which last year attracted a crowd of 20,000 over three days and cemented its place as the biggest religious festival in the nation.

HumeRidge Church of Christ moved to a huge new complex in 1994 when the congregation outgrew its old home.

Only weeks ago Rangeville Community Church opened its new doors to a growing congregation, while areas such as Highfields are growing so fast with new families churches can barely contain their new congregations.

St Anne's Anglican Church in Highfields is one such case, with the 80-member congregation bursting out the doors, highlighting the need for something bigger.

St Bart's has joined the line-up of churches looking to build for growing numbers. …

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