International Network of Churches
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In October 2013, Christian Outreach Centre – nearing its 40th anniversary – "rebranded" itself as International Network of Churches (inc) with the tag line "Born for More".
Described as "building on the past" rather than separating from it, International Network of Churches, under Oceania Chairman Ross Abraham, believes the characteristics “bold, action-oriented and dependable” reflect the Movement’s DNA.
Starting with a meeting of 25 people at a private house in Keperra in 1974, the Movement today has grown to thousands of members worldwide, major schools and colleges, an acclaimed disaster-relief “social justice” arm, Global Care, and the iconic "Red Frogs" school chaplaincy and "schoolies" ministry programs.
Christian Outreach Centre (COC) was founded by former Methodist minister Clark Taylor, who had been "born again" at a Billy Graham crusade in Brisbane in 1959.
Taylor started COC with 25 people in his home in the Brisbane suburb of Keperra on the evening of June 16, 1974. The next weekend, 126 people met. From July 1977, rapid growth was partly driven by a TV show, "A New Way of Living", on Brisbane’s Channel 9 and 16 regional stations throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
COC grew rapidly from a Queensland to an Australian to an international movement. The first foray into the international scene was into the Pacific Islands, including the construction of a Bible College in Balasuna in the Solomon Islands.
In 1983 a 110-acre property at Wecker Road, Mansfield was purchased. Today it is the site of Citipointe Church, one of the largest congregations in Australia with over 6500 active members. The International Network of Churches now has landholdings throughout all states of Australia.
Founding President Clark Taylor resigned from the Movement in 1989 after a series of public moral failures[clarification needed], and was succeeded nationally by Neil Miers until 2008, when David McDonald took over until 2012. The current Chairman Ross Abraham was elected and began leading 1 October 2012.
In 1993 a European base was established by Pastor Ashley Schmierer,
Immediate past National Chairman, David McDonald, who put church-planting at the very core of his time in office, set the stage for the rebranding of COC to International Network of Churches in his final Chairman’s Report:
From its earliest days, COC had a strong emphasis on education, and started a number of schools and Bible colleges throughout Australia.
Today, the education arm is concentrated primarily in Queensland, with a major P-12 school on the Citipointe site (Citipointe Christian College) with some 1800 students, and large schools in Nambour (Suncoast Christian College), Gympie (Victory College) and Toowoomba (Christian Outreach College, Toowoomba).
The Movement’s State-accredited tertiary institution, Christian Heritage College, was founded in 1986, and today has a full-time student population of about 1000, with more than 40 graduate and post-graduate courses offered in the schools of Education, Business, Ministry and Social Science.
Social Justice and Disaster Relief
The Movement’s disaster relief arm, Global Care, was founded in 1996, and has become nationally prominent through such high-profile activities as
• Tsunamis in PNG, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Solomon Islands,
• The disastrous bush fires in Kinglake in Victoria,
• The Queensland floods of 2011,
• The Bundaberg tornado and floods of 2012 and
• The 2013 Blue Mountains bushfire crisis in NSW.
Messages commending Global Care have been written by the Governor General, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, current Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and the Premiers of Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
Global Care is administered out of Nowra City Church in NSW by National Director Peter Pilt with a close-knit HQ staff.
Another high-profile ministry to grow out of the Movement is the Red Frogs youth chaplaincy program.
Started in 1997 by youth pastor Andy Gourley, Red Frogs has gone international with the acclaim accorded its highly publicised annual "schoolies" program.
COC Investment Services was birthed out of a vision to facilitate and resource the local church and its charitable objectives.
Christian Outreach Centre trading as COC Investment Services (COCIS) is not a bank – it is designed for investors who wish to promote the charitable objectives of the Christian Outreach Centre Movement. The funding scheme is not primarily for profit.
The goals of COCIS are:
• To resource the vision of the International Network of Churches Movement and its charitable objectives.
• To create a financial vehicle that maximizes the use of the Movement’s corporate resources for the benefit of the local church.
• To reduce the Movement’s financial risks in funding and sustaining church growth.
• To understand our client's needs and to work passionately for local churches and their calling to serve our communities.
The Movement has always been active in public affairs, with representatives speaking at national and state prayer gatherings and conferences, and actively lobbying political and community leaders in areas of social and moral action.
A COC lay leader, John Gagliardi, co-founded the influential Australian Christian Lobby in 1995 with former Baptist minister John McNicol. The non-partisan nature of the organisation was established from the outset – Gagliardi had been a media adviser to Liberal Prime Minister Sir John Gorton and John McNicol a policy adviser to former ALP Attorney-General Judge Lionel Murphy.
COC pastor and businessman Peter Earle took over as president on the resignation of Gagliardi, to be followed by Brig Jim Wallace (former Australian Army SAS Commander), and more recently, Lyle Shelton.
- Dumas, Daisy. "Teenage wasteland: 'froggers' keep schoolies safe from moral swamp". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- Tobitt, Min. "Solomon Island Tsunami Recovery". COC World. Christian Outreach Centre. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Citipointe Church - Who We Are". Citipointe Church. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Ashley and Ruth Schmierer". Christian Outreach Centre UK. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Christian Outreach Centre 2012 Annual Report". Christian Outreach Centre. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "INC Education". International Network of Churches. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Citipointe Christian College". Citipointe Christian College. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Suncoast Christian College". Suncoast Christian College. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Victory College, Gympie". Victory College, Gympie. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Christian Outreach College, Toowoomba". Christian Outreach College, Toowoomba. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Christian Heritage College". Christian Heritage College. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Global Care - Our Story". Global Care Australia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- Sprague, David. "Letter of Appreciation". Victoria Police.
- Pilt, Peter. "Qld Floods and Global Care's Response". Global Care Australia. You Tube. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Global Care Continues To Make a Real Difference in Bundaberg". Global Care Australia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Global Care Responds to Blue Mountains Bushfires". Christian Today Australia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- Pilt, Peter. "Global Care". Global Care Australia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- Gourley, Andy. "Red Frogs Vision Statement". Red Frogs Australia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Resourcing the Vision". COC Investment Services. Retrieved 03/12/2013.
- "Australian Christian Lobby". Wikipedia. Retrieved 03/12/2013.