Parramatta Mission provides meals, accommodation and mental health services across Greater Western Sydney, with almost 500 staff and many volunteers delivering more than 70 services.
We provide assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities to assist them in transforming their lives. These include people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, facing crisis and people living with mental illness.
Parramatta Mission is a part of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Parramatta Mission has been providing services to people who are homeless, facing crisis and living with mental illness since the early 1970’s. Its broader history can be traced back to the opening of the first Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on the current Parramatta site in 1821, and with it – the commencement of multiple community outreach and support services.
The expansive community programs of Parramatta Mission today were borne out of the early Wesleyans’ ethos of outreach, community and inclusiveness. The Wesleyans of colonial Parramatta had an ‘open door’ policy and accepted everyone – including people who were disadvantaged.
‘Leigh Memorial’ is the name of the church at 119 Macquarie Street, Parramatta; the third church on the site. The first was the aforementioned Wesleyan Chapel, which was demolished in 1839 to make way for the second church (later called ‘Macquarie Hall’). Convict cut sandstones from thisoriginal Chapel are still on display in the church car park today.
The construction of the first Chapel was funded by Rev. Walter Lawry and Mrs. Mary Lawry (nee Hassall). Rev. Lawry was the second Wesleyan Missionary to NSW, arriving in 1818. He followed Rev. Samuel Leigh, who had arrived in 1815 and conducted a successful ministry ‘on horseback’ throughout the Greater West.
In 1839, a second Wesleyan Methodist Church was opened on the site. This church was described as having a ‘heart’ and a rich culture of community participation and service. Attendances during the mid to late 19th century were enormous, with Sunday School classes welcoming hundreds of local children. This church became known as ‘Macquarie Hall’, when the third church on the site (a Victorian Gothic church – later named ‘Leigh Memorial’ in memory of Rev. Leigh) was opened in 1885.
From 1900, the various strands of Methodism, including the Wesleyans, came together as one and were from that time commonly known as ‘Methodists’. In 1971, the Parramatta Methodist Circuit became the Parramatta Regional Mission – opening the way for a significant expansion of community outreach services to meet the needs of a rapidly changing urban demographic in Sydney’s West.
In 1977, Parramatta Mission’s Methodist congregations historically joined with others of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations throughout Australia to form a new church: The Uniting Church in Australia.
The Uniting Church has three hallmarks: worship, witness and service. It is the ‘service’ aspect which is so evident in the work of Parramatta Mission’s mental health services and community services. The Mission is now one of the largest providers of community services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness Western Sydney.
The Mission’s mental health division, which operates under the name of UnitingRecovery (previously UnitingCare Mental Health), is now one of the most significant providers of community mental health services in NSW and is responsible for employing the majority of the Mission’s staff.
While headquartered and with some services in Parramatta’s CBD, the Mission’s 70 plus programs are delivered from no less than 80 sites extending across Western Sydney, to the Central Coast, Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Blue Mountains and to Liverpool.