Cornerstone Community is an Australian non-denominational Christian training and mission movement.
||This article may contain original research. (September 2007)|
Founded in 1978, Cornerstone operates from several training campuses in regional Australia and supports a network of mission teams throughout the country.
Their stated aim is to develop a “whole of life” approach to faith and to equip men and women to “experience and express the reality of God” in everyday life.
Cornerstone includes a broad cross section of individuals from all walks of life and works alongside churches, schools, Universities and Christian ministries both within Australia and internationally.
Students spend the first year of the two-year course engaged in a program of study, work, community living and mission within one of the main Cornerstone centers. The subsequent year (or years) is spent as part of a smaller self-supporting mission team within Australian towns.
Students work alongside churches within neighborhoods, schools, universities, youth groups and sporting clubs to serve the community and build bridges with those not connected with the traditional church.
Cornerstone is a non-profit, self-supporting ministry and operates several businesses to finance both its training centers and mission teams.
Cornerstone Community was founded on a cotton farm in Outback Australia in 1978 by two friends who shared a passion to make practical sense of Jesus Christ and his teaching.
Laurie McIntosh, a civil engineer, anthropologist, farmer and theologian, developed the idea for a self-sufficient 'mission-minded' community of Christians while working with Campus Crusade on universities in England and Australia.
Together with history teacher Paul Roe and with the support of local farmers Jack Buster and Owen Boone, they founded the first Cornerstone Community west of Bourke, New South Wales.
The first intake of students arrived in 1978 and divided their time between farm work and study.
Early facilities included a ramshackle collection of farm buildings, caravans and sheds and students and staff lived in close quarters. Lectures occasionally took place outside under the shade of a tree to escape the harsh Bourke summer.
From these humble beginnings Cornerstone has at various times maintained centres in Bourke, Broken Hill and Canowindra in New South Wales, Emerald and Dalby in Queensland and Swan Hill in Victoria. Cornerstone mission teams have worked in many Australian towns and cities in most states.
They are officially described as an Australian 'Christian Mission Order'.
Cornerstone Community currently operates Training Centres, which are effectively intentional communities similar to the Israeli kibbutz. These Centres are based in Broken Hill, Canowindra, Dubbo and Swan Hill. They also have an overseas Training Centre in Ghana which is operated by one of their graduates.
Cornerstone’s courses are designed to extend beyond an academic understanding of theology,(including ethics, apologetics, Christian history and discipleship)and students are encouraged to develop a practical understanding of how their faith impacts everyday life.
Mentors actively assist each student in their course and personal discipleship, integrating Biblical studies with modern scholarship, personal experience and awareness of current issues.
Cornerstone emphasis is on training the laity in relevant and life-style based mission.
Cornerstone Community maintains that their community lifestyle is not an attempt to retreat from the realities of modern life, but to help men and women discover life (as Jesus put it) "in all its fullness" right in the middle of common things and daily experience.
Graduates come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. Over the years, cornerstone has attracted everyone from doctors to builders with Australian children's entertainer and Christian musician Colin Buchanan their most famous graduate.
Cornerstone's website hosts a discussion forum called "Cornerstone Interactive". This sub-domain of the cornerstone website contains a 'news' page where articles are posted for discussion and 'forums' section where discussion topics are open. Membership to 'Interactive' is open (public) and free (no charge).
Cornerstone operates variety of commercial enterprises which allow communities to remain self-sufficient.
Rather than pay tuition fees students are employed within Cornerstone run businesses.
The workplace also provides an important setting to implement cornerstone’s philosophy of integrating Christian faith with everyday life.
Each business is managed by a trained, experienced staff-person, and most community members will work there part-time while in Cornerstone.
Cornerstone businesses also employ local staff, support local causes and are an integral part of the communities within which they operate.
This issue gained particular prominence in 2002 when one of Cornerstone’s businesses, “Turf the Lot”, became involved in the so-called “turf wars” in Canberra. This drew the attention of the Australian Taxation Office who examined Cornerstone’s business affairs and concluded:
The activities of CCI clearly have a charitable purpose and the commercial activities (e.g. Turf the Lot) undertaken by CCI support and indeed are in aid of this dominant charitable purpose.
- Leffman, David; Dehne, Anne, Scott, Chris; Daly, Margo. The Rough Guide to Australia 6. Page 365. London: Rough Guides Ltd, 2003
- "How they fell for Mr Foo". Sydney Morning Herald. August 9, 2003.
- 7.30 Report - 20/11/2001: Businesses question Churchs tax break
- "Non-profit groups keep $11bn from Tax Office". The Sydney Morning Herald.