It’s a small church located right in the middle of housing commission flats with a park across the road. But St. Clement's Anglican Church, Lalor Park, has a big heart for the people who live in the neighbourhood.
The minister, Mark Tough, came to the area in 2007 and started serving at St. Clement's in 2012. He knows about the strength and resilience that can be found in what is deemed “difficult” neighbourhoods. He grew up in Earlwood and was the only person in his family to graduate with a degree. He also did his training at a church in Tregear and found he had a heart for ministry in hard places.
Lalor Park is an area with its fair share of challenges, but Mark wouldn’t be anywhere else.
“I love being here,” he says.
“I love the down to earth nature of the people who live here. There is no putting on airs and graces. I also serve a lovely bunch of people at church and am encouraged by the people in this community who are trying to make things better."
“Mind you there is a fair bit of heart ache in the area too. A lot of people are facing many challenges and difficult choices.”
With a desire to share God’s love with the community in a practical way, Mark has set up a community hub that gathers relevant service providers in the church hall on the third Wednesday of each month.
It is a one stop shop that helps people save time when they need some extra support. From hearing tests to settlement support, from affordable housing to Centrelink benefits, the gathering on the third Wednesday of each month is designed to give people as much help as they need.
Every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm, Anglicare’s food and financial assistance team also sets up at the church. They are there to help people living in and around Lalor Park with any material aid they need including paying various utility bills, sorting issues with rent or housing or finding affordable food.
“My dad didn’t finish primary school,” Mark explains. “But he instilled within me a real sense of caring for people who may be going through a hard time. You look after the little guy and the big end of town can take care of themselves.”