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Cairns also became a stopover for missionaries flying into and out of Papua New Guinea. it also marked a turning point....for the growth of the church.
Cairns Church of Christ, QLD
The Cairns church began in 1964 when Joe Cassella (father of Carmello Cassella) was baptised. At that time he was the only church member living in Cairns and was unable to speak English. Cam LaSpina, usually with his family, would travel from Innisfail 1½ hours each way every Sunday to worship with Joe and converse in Italian. This continued for many years until Ron & Margaret Doyle and their family moved to Cairns in 1976. Shortly before that Ian & Beth Harland and Yvonne Manning had arrived in Cairns.
The small church met in the Doyle home, then in numerous rented school halls, and then back to the Doyle home until 2006. Since 2006, the church has met in a rented facility, the Cairns Junior Choral Society Hall in Grove Street, which is close to the city centre.
In those early days the church grew to a regular attendance of about 20, with Sam and Margaret Kirkpatrick working with the church for a year in 1984. However, with the very transient population in Cairns, the numbers dwindled largely due to people moving away.
With the opening of Cairns international airport in the late 1980s, the church was greatly encouraged by frequent international visitors to the congregation. Cairns also became a stopover for missionaries flying into and out of Papua New Guinea. It also marked a turning point for a remarkable increase in the population of the city and, with that, the growth of the church.
During the 1990s Adolf & Dia Momberger moved from Port Moresby. They were followed by some of their children and their families. Then David & Dianne Hodgkinson moved from Darwin. Outreach into the community saw some people converted. While some moved away others, sadly, fell away.
In the early 2000s Graeme Offer and his late wife, Carol, moved to Cairns. Graeme preached every second Sunday in Cairns and alternate Sundays in Innisfail. Through the efforts of Adolf & Dia, several people from the PNG community in Cairns were converted and the congregation grew to about 30. Since Graeme retired in 2010, he still spends several months a year in Cairns, with the remainder spent elsewhere.
Jason & Sheryl Moriarty worked with the church for three years from 2012 until 2015. However, in mid-2015 they returned to America. Around the same time, Adolf died, and David Momberger moved to PNG for work. Without strong leadership, the numbers dwindled again as a lot of young people fell away.
In 2017, Vani and Millie Igo moved from PNG to Cairns and the church has greatly benefitted from strong teaching and outreach into the PNG community. There have been several recent baptisms and personal studies with many families are continuing. Sunday morning assembly numbers are again around 30. Marcel van den Bos has also recently moved back to Cairns and is a great help to the congregation.
The church has had (and continues to have) a focus of helping Christians in PNG and, in the past, has supported several preachers there. At present, although numbers are growing, very few members are working; so there are very limited financial resources available to send elsewhere. Hence the current focus is directed towards supporting the local work.
Graeme Offer and his wife Judy spend several months each year in Cairns and count themselves as members of the Cairns congregation. firstname.lastname@example.org