Mark Beresford became the Congregational Pastor at Mosaic Baptist Church, Gungahlin two years ago and was excited for what it meant to do ministry in a rapidly growing area of Canberra. But the church property was in a neighbouring industrial area, outside of the hustle and bustle of Gungahlin.

So, Mark started asking himself what it looked like to be present in Gungahlin when the church’s Sunday services were in the industrial area. 

Mark started with moving his office. Rather that working at the church office, in a suburb where no one was during the week, he started doing his preparation and writing work in various cafes in Gungahlin, getting to know the staff and other patrons. He would go and visit the local barber shop on his breaks, connecting with the owner, a friend from church, as well as the other barbers. 

And he began to make connections.

Before long, he was regularly reading the Bible with a dozen people, the vast majority of whom don’t go to church. 


Over the past six months, Mark has been talking with his friend at the barber shop about experimenting with a simple church. The location was superb, with the barber shop being in the centre of Gungahlin and right at the tram stop.

Every Wednesday at 6:30pm, Mark opens the barber shop for the Open Circle, named as such because it is “open”, always welcoming to anyone, and a “circle”, where every voice is heard and valued. 

Mark invites the people he’s been reading the Bible with, as well as people from the main church, along to the Open Circle. They have a simple discussion around the Bible, enjoying learning from the unique perspectives of each of the people there, many of whom don’t go to church. 


“It really is just a bunch of people gathering around the Scriptures and thinking together and being open about what the Spirit might say to us,” Mark reflects. 

After two years of building, the Open Circle is now six weeks old and taking on a life of its own. People now approach Mark to ask what the Open Circle is and if they can come. Some come along at the first invitation, others are reading the Bible with Mark one-on-one to build their confidence. Everyone at the Open Circle is there because of their relationship with Mark. They have caught the vision of what the Open Circle can be. 

“This is what the church is meant to be,” says Mark, “a group of people in community learning about and gathering around Christ”. 

Mark hopes to plant more Open Circles across Gungahlin; at different places and run by different people, but all following the simple model of reading a passage from the Bible and asking open questions about what they have read and who they might share it with. 


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