chuch@paravista has its roots in the Christian Brethren movement which began in England in the early 1800s. In the 1830s and 1840s a group of Anglican scholars who were committed to the Scriptures sought to rediscover the NT principles for the church. Guided by the Spirit of God, they rediscovered biblical truth that had been neglected in their own church tradition – the unity of the body of Christ, the centrality of worship, and the priesthood of all believers. These men were the architects of what became known as the Plymouth Brethren.

In 1901 Wiliam Neatby wrote this about them:

The Brethren sought to effect a fresh start without authority, precedent or guidance beyond the letter of the Holy Scripture. For them, essentially, the garnered experience of 18 centuries was as though it were not. Such an experiment in the hands of eminent men could scarcely fail to yield a considerable harvest of interest and instruction.

Unfortunately, as has happened with many renewal movements throughout history, some men began to interpret the rediscovered principles in a very narrow way without any flex and this gave rise to a break away movement which became known as the Exclusive Brethren (you may have heard of them, they continue to feature in the current affairs programs as a cult).

Nevertheless, the Open Brethren (as the remainder were called) continued to demonstrate a fellowship that had the following characteristics:

  1. A worshipping community
  2. Personal devotion to Christ
  3. A sacrificial lifestyle
  4. Meeting in the name of Jesus only
  5. The communion service as a symbol of unity
  6. Women’s participation in the meetings
  7. Inclusive unity with diversity
  8. Church as family
  9. A simple life-style
  10. Showing hospitality to all people
  11. Believers set apart so that they might be different from others in their service to God
  12. A drive to witness and be the people of God
  13. Functioning of the church through spiritual gifts

Anthony Norris Groves, one of the early leaders in the Brethren movement best captured the ecumenical spirit behind their understanding of the church as the household of God.

  1. The basis of our fellowship is Life in the Christ of Scripture rather than Light on the teaching of Scripture. Those who have part with Christ have part with us. Because our communion is one of life and love more than one of doctrine and opinion, we seek to show that the oneness in the life of God through Jesus Christ is a stronger bond than that of being one of us – whether organisationally or denominationally.
  2. Because our fellowship is based on our common life in Christ, we do not reject anyone because of the organisation or denomination with which they have been affiliated; nor would we hold them responsible for the conduct within that system, any more than we would a child for the conduct in the home of which they are merely a part.
  3. We do not feel it desirable to withdraw from fellowship with any Christians except at the point where they may require us to do what our consciences will not permit, or restrain us from doing what our consciences require. Even then, we maintain our fellowship with them in any matter where we are not called upon to compromise. This ensures (insofar as we understand the Scripture) that we do not separate ourselves from them any further than they separate themselves from Christ.
  4. We do not consider an act of fellowship to be indicative of total agreement; indeed we sometimes find it a needed expression of love to submit to others in matters where we do not fully agree, rather than to prevent some greater good from being brought about. Our choice would be to bear wit their wrong rather than separate ourselves from their good.
  5. We believe it more scriptural to reflect a heart of love, ready to find a covering for faults, than to constantly look for that with which we may disagree. We will be known more by what we witness for than by what we witness against.
  6. We feel it biblical never to pressure anyone to act in uniformity farther than they feel in uniformity; we use our fellowship in the Spirit as an opportunity to discuss our differences and find this to be the most effective way of leading others – or being led by them – into the light of the Word.
  7. While enjoying such a wide range of Christian fellowship, we would not force this liberty upon those who feel otherwise minded. In such circumstances, we enjoy fellowship as far as they will permit, then pray that the Lord would lead them further into this true liberty of the common life in Christ.

The Story of church@paravista

Our particular church will be 30 years old this August. It  started out in Modbury Primary school, then moved to the Tea Tree Players theatre premises, and then bought the Delfin real estate building on Grenfell Rd in Golden Grove. The church remained there for many years, until we purchased this property approximately 5 years ago, so we had more room for the church and ministries to grow.

A number of the original members who started the church still come to this church and there are many people and families who have been coming for ten or twenty years. Our last pastor – Roy Montgomery – served in this church for 20 years – and only moved on because he felt he had taken the church as far as he could and it was time to move on.

As a church, we feel very passionate about helping people be all they can be in Christ – hence our mission statement: “to help people become active, committed followers of Jesus Christ” – we want to see people meet Jesus, become his disciples, make a decision to be part of this fellowship of believers, and then get actively involved in serving in the church and our wider community.

So we certainly want to love you and serve you but we also want to encourage you to be part of this church and join with us in serving God and giving him the praise and glory.