By Gillian Tyler
I grew up attending church; in fact, my father was a minister in the Congregational Church and then the Uniting Church. We went to church every Sunday, followed by a roast for Sunday lunch. Dad changed parishes every five years, but he was the only minister I had for my first 18 years. We knew all his children’s stories by heart. He worked most Sundays and every Christmas and Easter.
Dad wasn’t very pious for a man of religion. He liked his beer, and sometimes he wasn’t respectful towards the hierarchy of the Church. But my father did care about people. He spent his time visiting people in need. He would give a meal and a bed to the homeless and a cup of coffee to alcoholics. He always had the time and a bit of change for those less fortunate.
As minister’s kids, we were expected to attend church and later become Sunday School teachers. When I moved away from home, I continued to be active in the church.
As I have grown older, I have drifted away from the church. I no longer feel comfortable attending services. I have changed, and maybe the church has changed too. I am not alone in my move away from the church. In the 1960s nearly 90% of Australians claimed affiliation with a Christian Church, but now only 7% of Australians attend church regularly.
Churches have been sold to become fish and chip shops, coffee shops or private residents and some have been left empty to disintegrate into a crumbling view.