To transform our community through
innovation and the power of god
Lighthouse sees things differently
As a church, our resources are focused on helping people live lives of significance from Monday to Sunday; where everyone is encouraged to see the local community as their responsibility; where church is regarded less as a building and more as a community of people.
The values of hospitality and innovation are central to the development of our church and community programs. While we are rooted firmly in the traditions of our past, we embrace the present and future with innovation… and that means we see things in a different light.
Lighthouse was established in 1969 by Pastors Bill and Joan Beard who had a vision to plant a thriving Christian community in the Illawarra. After moving to a series of locations around Wollongong, the Beard’s founded Lighthouse Christian Centre at the site of an old rundown shop at 1 Railway Station Square in 1971.
In the 31 years that they were senior ministers, the Beard’s led thousands to Christ in the Illawarra, across Australia and around the world and established a school that would later become Cedars Christian College. But in 2000, they passed the leadership of the church onto their daughter and son-in-law, Paul and Annette Bartlett.
Paul himself had come from a long line of community focused ministries. His father Ted had established Wollongong City Mission in 1983, a local organisation that grew to employ over 300 people locally and 200 volunteers across NSW until it merged with Sydney City Mission in 1997.
In the 22 years that Paul and Annette led Lighthouse between 2000-2022, they were faithful to their roots: building a community focused organisation that invited people to live with the power of God. The growing community influence under their leadership was impressive: they established Lighthouse Community Care, youth housing, meals programs which later became Lighthouse Community Kitchen, the annual and popular Ride Around the Lake and much more.
In 2005, Lighthouse had the opportunity to merge with Shellharbour City Church and Lighthouse Christian Centre became Lighthouse Church.
In 2010 it purchased the iconic The Woolshed, a site that was popular with locals as a live music venue in the southern Illawarra. Over the course of the next half-decade, it was transformed into a café-restaurant, art gallery and wedding reception venue and it has recovered its place as one of the Illawarra’s prime locations.
In 2019, Lighthouse celebrated 50 years serving the people of the Illawarra and two years later, Paul, who was now a highly respected community leader, author, international speaker and State President of ACC, felt the winds of change. At the end of 2022 he handed the reins of the church over to a new collaborative leadership model led by Josh Hamman, Andy Flaherty and Elyse Flaherty.
Lighthouse continues to innovate and operate in the power of God.