Cornerstone Community grew out of a dream shared by a small group of friends with a passion to make sense of Jesus Christ and his message for people today.
Through experience in universities, workplaces, churches and neighbourhoods in Australia and overseas, they developed a concept of fostering intentional and missional communities whose shared lives would be shaped by God's purposes for us, revealed in the Bible ...
- to be wise stewards with His creation,
- to serve others and promote justice,
- to embody and express His 'good news' revealed in Jesus
- to offer practical training to those who want to explore what following Jesus can look like.
The goal was not to retreat from the realities and challenges of modern life, but to help men and women discover life - as Jesus put it - "in all its fulness" ... right in the middle of common things and daily experience.
Since the first small community was established west of Bourke NSW in 1977, a movement has grown out of that dream. We are a non-denominational, community-based fellowship focused on mission and training, emulating the apostles' mission bands in the New Testament, and similar in approach to various 'religious orders' in history ... an Australian 'Christian Mission Order'!
For more of the story, select the links below:
A growing stream of people have been joining Cornerstone since 1978 - some for a few months, some for many years - and communities have been established in numerous places to provide our training to these applicants.
These campuses have been based at 'Pera Bore' (1978), Broken Hill (1988), Canowindra (1990), ‘Gidgee Lake’ (1990) and ‘Burrabadine’ near Dubbo (1994) in New South Wales, at Emerald (1983) and several towns on the Darling Downs (1983) in Queensland. Most recently, our community at Swan Hill in Victoria began a training campus just across the Murray River in NSW (2007).
For more information, check out our training campuses under 'our training'.
Usually after one year in a campus community, these trainees join smaller missional communities placed in regional towns and suburbs. These teams typically operate in association with local congregations, schools, councils and other local groups to contribute practically to their communities, expressing the generous love of God and the message of Jesus in relevant ways.
Since 1979, more than 100 mission teams have been commissioned for at least one year of service in more than 50 towns and suburbs across the eastern and southern states of Australia.
For more information, check out our 'mission teams' under 'our communities'.
Cornerstone has established several missional communities with a longer-term commitment to their towns and regions. As well as our training campus communities, there are a number of ‘committed companies’ ... smaller teams of Cornerstone members, including families and individuals, who make their homes in a town or city for at least 5 years. They become very much part of the communities they serve, embracing a call to help meet significant social and spiritual needs in their neighbourhoods and towns, and to enrich the lives of those they share life with there.
The campus communities are in Swan Hill, Canowindra and Burrabadine, and there are 'committed companies' in Bendigo in Victoria, and in Canowindra, Newcastle and Coonabarabran in New South Wales.
For more information, check out 'our communities'.
All of these communities aim to be self-supporting through their own community businesses and involvement in other local workplaces. Cornerstone, like many traditional ‘orders’, has always included work as a significant part of a healthy spiritual life. It is a powerful context for developing important habits and attitudes for life, and it helps keep theological and spiritual reflection practical and grounded in the realities of common life. This work also allows the community to cover its own expenses, including those related to the training, ministry and mission.
For more information, check out 'our businesses'.
Cornerstone has always been very intentionally Australian in its ethos and focus. However, over the last 20 years, people have come to our communities from many other countries. These include New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, South Korea, China, Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Jordan, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Canada and USA.
This has often brought a special richness to our communities, and a number of our overseas alumni are now developing similar ‘home-grown’ ministries in their own countries; it seems they have found the principles of community and mission developed in Cornerstone to be transferable and relevant for their own context.
Cornerstone can no longer accept overseas applicants into the courses (since late 2010), but our communities still welcome international visitors. We also continue to provide support in various forms as we are able for the ministries of our international graduates in their own countries.
Cornerstone Community is not a denomination or ‘church’ (as commonly understood). It is based upon the New Testament model of the mission band, in keeping with the historical tradition of various monastic orders.
Cornerstone’s ethos is that of the ‘common Christianity’ reflected in the teaching of the New Testament and the early followers of Jesus, reaffirmed in key periods of the Church’s history and today shared by the majority of the Christian denominations. This non-sectarian emphasis has proven attractive to many Australian applicants, and has been appreciated by those from other cultures wishing to minimise Western denominational influences in their spiritual experience and training.
This has also allowed Cornerstone communities and members to work in effective partnerships with many other organisations. This has included congregations from many denominations, including Anglican, Uniting, Baptist, Churches of Christ, Brethren, Presbyterian, Methodist and Salvation Army, and numerous other ministries, including Fusion, Youth With A Mission, Life Ministries, Scripture Union and Teen Ranch.
To help maintain appropriate accountability and positive relationships with the wider Christian community, Cornerstone has appointed an external 'Advocate' who is authorised to advise our leadership, to address concerns with them relevant to the wider community, and to act as a referee on Cornerstone's behalf as needed.