By Corin Mackay
The Forest Lake Baptist Church will celebrate its 25th birthday with an outdoor service at the lake on Sunday October 8 at 9:00 am, open to everyone in the community.
People of all ages and experiences are invited to enjoy the event, meet new people, listen to a sermon and hear about the church’s history.
The Forest Lake Baptist Church was founded in 1994, in Mary and Ron Linning’s Forest Lake home.
Mary ran a playgroup for new families who moved to Forest Lake, building the church’s foundations in community and family.
The small congregation soon grew, and in 1998 the group became an official Queensland Baptist Church. They moved to Forest Lake State School, meeting outside in an undercover area, until shifting to the activity hall at the school, and then again to the Performing Arts Centre in 2011, where they have since held Sunday services.
The Church also serves the school community with the current playgroup, breakfast club, and Pursuit Youth for teenagers on Friday nights.
Mark Mackay, current Pastor of eighteen years, said that even twenty-five years after its founding, he still encounters members of the community who remember the origins of the church, and how Mary, or “Mother Mary” as they called her at the time, had helped them feel welcomed in the area.
Mark and his wife Catherine, married for 24 years, have lived in Forest Lake with their four kids – three daughters and a son – for six years now.
“I grew up in Church…To me it’s about community and the gathering of people,” Mark said.
”I describe it as my village – I believe every family needs to be part of a village, and for me, that village is the Church.”
Mark, raised in a religious home, was working as an accountant and still studying at Bible college when an opportunity to work at the Forest Lake Baptist Church was presented to him.
“My old mentor, who had been at the church for 18 months, reached out in 2006 to see if I was interested… the plan was to serve at the Church for a year,” Mark said.
Mark said the church has always had a big emphasis on their Families ministry.
“Since the very beginning, we’ve had a playgroup – a partnership between the Church and Forest Lake State School, which helps families who have preschool-age children get involved in the school community,” he said.
“The youth group is flourishing, lots of kids in the community come in on a Friday night.
“For the last eleven years, we’ve done a breakfast club at the school, we hold ladies’ dinners and men’s breakfasts every month, we support local school chaplains, and hold life groups, where people can get together for fellowship, support and to connect with the community,” Mark said.
Ron and Mary, who still live in the area, continue to leave a legacy, going on to help other churches, with Ron having a long ministry in serving as a pastor.
Mark has dedicated his life to brightening the wider community and making the church a place that creates its own life.
“This is where God wants me…I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” he said.
The Church is dedicated to serving our community and bringing the life and love of Jesus to Forest Lake.
“I love Forest Lake, I love the community, I love taking my dog for a walk around the lake and saying g’day to the people,” Mark said.
For more information, contact the Church on their website at flbc.org.au