Priest aims to bring people back
A COOLANGATTA church's new priest places the utmost importance on love.
"God is love," St Peter's Anglican Church Father Stephen Redhead said, quoting St John's Gospel
"Those who live in love, live in God and God lives in them."
Indeed his love for his calling and his flock is evident in his almost 40 years as a clergyman and more than 700 weddings presided over at his previous post, St Mary's in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane.
He said he had always been committed to "parish community life".
"Despite changes to society and attitudes toward institutional church that have changed, I think people are still looking for a place to be able to express their spiritual values."
But he admitted churches themselves faced challenges some were coping with better than others.
"Before Kangaroo Point I spent seven and a half years in the parish of Logan, where the change that church faced was handled well.
"Some are frightened of change - fearful of losing something they once held precious."
Father Stephen said Coolangatta's Anglican community had "great historic roots" but "needs a shot in the arm".
"I'm hoping to bring people back a sense of wanting to go to church.
"When it's a choice between church and bacon and eggs on the beach, the beach will always win.
"But I think they can both win."
In order to achieve this goal his and all churches need to improve their "God talk", he said.
"My style is contemplative - about teaching people how to slow down, because they don't know how to meditate and get into deep things.
"In yoga, which can be Christian or non-Christian, you're drawing into the greater dimensions of life and its being.
"We can help people find God in the joys of silence and reflection, which can live beside other things such as going surfing or walking on the beach."
Besides sombre, all encompassing spiritual issues Father Stephen said he had a "wicked" sense-of-humour.
"I enjoy fun, because life isn't meant to be all serious.
"We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, to find humour in our humanity and our brokenness."
He hopes to retire on the southern Gold Coast, is a big cricket and AFL fan, and his guitar skills will be a welcome addition to the church's rock service.
St Peter's Sunday morning mass is at 8am (NSW) and Palm Beach's St Paul's is at 10am.