Annual Report 2017
Let me begin this report by telling you what a great joy it has been to serve you here at St Dunstan’s this year. I approached the end of my first year of ministry here with a sense of great content of being in a place, which enables me to do my best, so I thank you for that. We have a lot of potential, together as Clergy and people to do the Missio Dei, or God’s mission, here. We are surrounded by people who are relatively comfortable and relatively wealthy but who, nonetheless, need to hear that God loves them and wants to draw them into the great dance of life. We provide a place for others to hear the Good News of Kingdom. As a parish, you had in place before I came a Mission Action Plan, which uses the language of Discipleship, Pastoral Care and Hospitality to articulate three of the functions that God calls us to. These things we do together as a church, and I am called upon as your Vicar to equip you and build you up for them.
One of the main ways that I serve you is to provide an experience of worship each week that brings together good teaching that will feed you in both mind and heart, liturgy and music to enable you to respond to God, and the sacraments which feed you spiritually. Week by week we meet for these things and I pray that the regular Eucharistic services do offer these things.
It is also a great joy to bring services that focus on particular aspects of either the church year, which is the great calendar and rhythm of our faith, or services that respond to a particular focus. Through Advent I tried to prepare us for both the incarnation and the parousia, that is the first and the second coming of Jesus. At Christmas we had joyous celebration services. We then explored the idea of Epiphany- or revelation of God. Lent followed beginning this year with two Ash Wednesday services and we explored through Lent different ways of examining ourselves and repenting. Then came the glory of Easter and in Holy Week we met to explore the journey to the cross using our senses. On Maundy Thursday we reminded each other of the meal in the upper room and washed each other’s feet, symbolising both our dependence on God but also on each other. On Good Friday we meditated on Christ’s suffering and began Easter Day with the glorious Service of New Fire and then with a Eucharist of Celebration for the Resurrection. The Easter season allows us time to continue to think through Jesus’ resurrection and what that means for us and then we have the excitement of Pentecost and the fire of the Spirit. And then with Trinity we began to examine what it means to be God’s people in the world. We thought about refugees, and other issues of social justice, we remembered the Saints and all those who have gone before and in a couple of weeks the cycle will come to its end as we think of Christ the King. Throughout the year I have endeavoured to make each week speak to us in a different way, to keep the worship fresh and deeply meaningful while maintaining our important tradition.
At the same time we have a newer expression of worship in the form of Open Church, an all age and interactive way of being the church together. We have, from our beginning in February, and building on the work that went before, built up a group of people of all ages who are enjoying some activity and conversation, who are joyfully worshipping together, and then gratefully eating a meal together. This is a different kind of being church but one that strives to do exactly the same thing in building the body of Christ.
We also meet together for a weekday Eucharist, and every week day for Morning Prayer, where we have the opportunity to pray for ourselves and the world.
I have also offered Lenten Studies and reading groups, confirmation classes, and tried to always be available to discuss ideas, share reading matter, and walk with people on their faith journeys. This work of building up and equipping the body of Christ takes a lot of my time and energy week by week.
The second of our tripod is Pastoral Care. In this area I try to equip others as well as perform the function of caring myself. As well as visiting people in need in hospital or their homes, I try to always be available for anyone who needs to talk to me, and to pray with those in need. We provide Aged Care Facilities with services and of course, the pastoral services of Baptisms and Funerals, though sadly I have done many more of the latter than the former this year. Funeral preparation, both in terms of meeting with grieving families and in preparation of the service, sermon and booklet, is time consuming but also a very important part of our pastoral care for those in our community. It is my plan to establish a formal Pastoral Care Team, as it is an area of our church life that is always growing and even with the enormous help that Anne provides on this front as well as the informal pastoral care that so many of you provide for each other, I think we need to do more.
In the area of hospitality our church as a body offers some regular events, such as Shrove Tuesday Pancakes, and some occasions such as the hospitality shown to the family of George and Kate when we celebrated together their 50th Anniversary, and the hospitality offered to the community for the Rick Price concert. We also offer hospitality through our Parish Fair and Christmas Markets, which are places where we touch the lives of the community around us. And our Kindergarten is, in one sense, also an act of hospitality. As the president of the Kindergarten it is one of the ways that I host people on this site. I have tried to make the Vicarage a place of welcome for various events. We need, as a church family to keep on offering hospitality, particularly to groups such as our Kindergarten families. To which end we offer regular services for Easter and for Christmas to the children and families.
As you can see there is a lot of overlap between the various elements of our mission as a parish.
There are a few highlights that I would like to bring to your attention. The first is the formation of some small groups for discussion, enabling people to deepen their understanding of God and our world. The second is the visioning process, Dare to Dream, that we did together that will enable us to make good decisions about how we move forward. The third is the forward momentum towards making this a place where the prophetic voice speaking out about social justice, Christ’s message of the Kingdom, can be heard. We have seen a growth too, particularly with Open Church but also in our congregations who meet on Sunday mornings.
The low light for me personally has been the continuing revelations of child sexual abuse and other matters of misconduct that have gone on in the wider church, which damages us all. The other big struggle that we face as a church is our financial viability. This has consumed a lot of our energy for the leaders of this church over the last few months.
The Wardens and Parish Council reports have highlighted all the work that they have done for you in terms of compliance to various legislations and other governance matters, so I won’t reiterate them. However, I want to express my thanks to John, Maxine and Chris and all the parish council who have done such a good job over this year and who support me so ably. I also want to mention the work that the financial team led by Charles have done, particularly in this difficult time financially. I also want to thank Anne who, particularly in the area of Pastoral Care, but in lots of other things as well, does such a lot of work and shares the load with me so ably. I want to thank Stuart who both delights us with his playing and works so hard to ensure that we have the right music for every occasion. I want to thank the Children’s Ministry team, without whom we couldn’t have got Open Church off the ground, and all the other fantastic things that they do to enable ministry in this place. I want to thank all of you who care pastorally both formally and informally- you are great at getting alongside one another. All of those who help with catering and all that goes with it- particularly washing up.
I want to thank the Sacristy guild for their constant care for the things that enable worship and for the beautiful flowers that delight us each week. I would like to thank all of those who clean, and attend to bins and to maintenance, so essential and often invisible.
The craft group provides both a framework for hospitality and a constant gift to the parish.
I also want to thank Laurie for his faithfulness in making a display for us of the things of each season. And finally I want to thank all of you who pray with me and for me and for the parish.
There are lots of things that I haven’t mentioned in this report that make up the life of this church, but everything we do goes to make up the whole of who we are as God’s people, here at St Dunstan’s.
I thank you for the opportunity of ministering with and among you.