Pastors farewelled

Pastors farewelled

Riviera Christian Centre celebrated more than 15 years of ministry of Pastors Phil and Tracey McCourt with a special celebration on Sunday, November 12.

Phil and Tracey are set to relocate to Perth to take up a position there, but before their departure the church expressed their gratitude for their years of service.

The couple came to East Gippsland from Perth in mid-2003, travelling across the Nullabor with their two children, Tarryn and Nathan.

Phil brought experience with project management and a large vision that started to impact immediately, and in the years that followed, the church saw big moves as the church grew and a new building became necessary.

The church’s properties in East Bairnsdale and Pearson Street were sold. A $1 million loan was secured and within six-and-a-half years a new $2.2m building had not only been built but was debt free with the assistance of sacrificial giving from the congregation.

Also during Pastors Phil and Tracey’s time at Riviera Christian Centre, mission giving has also increased with churches planted and children’s homes and facilities established in India, Thailand, Northern Asia and Cambodia.

At least one missions trip has also been conducted in Australia or Asia each year, working with children, planting or supporting churches, training leaders, saving women at risk and many other areas of need.

Other initiatives of Pastor Phil include the combining of local churches in 2010 for a Good Friday service at the Main Street rotunda.

Last Sunday’s farewell event saw a shortened, yet moving service of worship followed by a gathering of around 300 people who enjoyed a luncheon catered by Weng Weng’s Asian Grocery Store.

There was plenty of laughter and enjoyment with thanks reflected in a song written especially for the occasion by music director, Fiona Veith, and beautifully presented by the band and singers.

Many from across the congregation were involved in the special thanks and tributes. From the very young to the elderly, all contributed to express thanks and give honour for the amazing leadership, which has led to the church being a significant one, both locally and overseas.

Lots of photos presented on the large screen brought back many memories and pervaded a sense of thankfulness for the leadership teams that have been raised up.

Gifts were given, reflecting the honour of the people. A fruit tree of life was also adorned with messages of goodwill for the departing couple.

The local Ministers Fellowship celebrated on the Saturday night thanking Phil and Tracey for their contributions to the local community.

East Gippsland Newspapers’ Bob Yeates and Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, were among the community members who joined in the celebrations and thanks.

The Riviera Christian Centre board is currently seeking someone to take up the position left open by the relocation of the McCourts. In the meantime, church leaders are well trained and will continue on with the running of this impacting church.

PICTURED: Pastors Tracey and Phil McCourt with Carissa Saric (centre), who has lived away for some time but returned to celebrate the McCourt’s time at the Riviera Christian Centre.