By HARRY CLARKE
A PROGRESSIVE church community first assembled inside a country homestead kitchen in the 1930s is celebrating its latest success – moving into a large, modern community hall funded entirely by members.
Over a ten-year period, Chinchilla’s Country Hope Church (CHC) community raised the substantial $1.7 million required to build a facility large enough to accommodate its ever-growing membership.
Before the pandemic, crowds of worshippers were so large at the CHC that pastors Lee and Carly Dallmann had to run two separate services every Sunday.
That was in the old auditorium – a hall behind the former Assembly of God green church building on the corner of Glasson and Burbank streets.
But after a mammoth fundraising effort and a well executed construction project, the whole CHC community is now enjoying their colourful weekly services under one roof.
“Before Covid we were averaging about 250 people on a Sunday morning and that’s a significant representation of the Chinchilla community,” Pastor Carly Dallmann said.
“It really became evident about four years ago that we needed to expand, because we couldn’t fit everybody in the building on a Sunday morning.”
The impressive new church hall was constructed by Johnson Builders, whose proprietor John Johnson is a member of the CHC. Several other local contractors were employed throughout construction.
“John Johnson is very good at what he does in understanding budget constraints,” Pastor Dallmann said.
“We haven’t received funding from any other source, other than donations from church members.
“It’s essentially a shed on a slab and we’ve tried to make it as functional as we can, and to use everything that we have.”
CHC services feature a colourful lineup of local musicians performing a variety of Christian rock, pop and ballad music, interspersed with engaging talks and Bible readings from Pastor Lee Dallmann.
Members enjoy coffees and refreshments as the kids play outside and the adults catch up.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” Pastor Carly Dallmann said.
“Kids are welcome to run around and make a bit of noise. The music’s great. We use everyday language. We want to explain things so that everyone can understand them. It’s not that old fashioned language.”
The Country Hope Church was founded in Brigalow in 1936 by a local Christian who initially hosted tiny services in the kitchen of his farm homestead.
A church hall was eventually constructed in the town as membership grew, and in 1976 services moved to the Soldiers Memorial Hall which adjoins the ‘Little Green Church’ in Chinchilla.
CHC is part of the Australian Christian Church, formerly the Assembly of God, which is now the second largest denomination in Australia behind the Catholic Church.
“Our focus is very much a community focus,” Pastor Carly Dallmann said.
“It’s about helping the community, being out in the community. I think that’s one of the main factors in why our church has grown.”
Country Hope Church has also expanded to Jandowae, Gayndah and Meandarra.