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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 16

20 July, 2014

Having been blessed with two weeks annual leave in New Zealand visiting relatives, and then on my return spending almost a week at the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne Ministry Conference, my musings today will therefore focus on the theme of family. As the old adage goes: "You don't choose your family." This is certainly true, and was probably born out of the sort of family conflict we all experience from time to time, but I must say I prefer Bp Desmond Tutu's version: "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." One of the highlights of my visit to New Zealand was meeting my younger grandchild, Henry, for the first time. There have been many Skype calls and photographs since he was born last year, but his grandad-hugs over the fortnight were a true gift from God.

On returning home I spent a few days with members of my church family at the Diocesan Ministry Conference. Drawing on the 2012 White Paper "Australia in the Asian Century" our Archbishop, and Primate-elect, opened the conference with a reflection on the multicultural nature of our city, pointing out that: "there are more languages spoken in Melbourne than there are countries in the world." Mandarin speakers alone have almost doubled over the past ten years, from around 60,000 in 2001 to more than 100,000 in 2011. It is an important reality for us to reflect on here at St Peter's as we prepare for next year's Parish Mission. Who is our neighbour that God calls us to love? As well as other keynote speakers, such as Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, and Dr Susan Thomas from the Church of South India, we were blessed by an excellent series of workshops on a wide range of practical topics such as: "Fundraising for Parishes" by the Rev'd Jan Joustra; "A Chinese Christian in Caulfield: Life Story and Ministry in Bridging Cultures" by Anne Tang Qian Austin; and "Dealing with Conflict Within Parishes" by Tim Dyer.

I must say it is good to now be back home with my St Peter's family. On my return I received a number of glowing reports of the way that Fr Samuel served as priest-in-charge in my absence. Vicar's Warden, John Taaff, had this to say: "As you most probably know, St Peter's was the venue for the funeral of the late Lorraine Elliott, a former member of the Kennett government. I want to let you know that Fr Samuel showed exceptional leadership in bringing the team together for this. We had over 600 people, including the Premier and Lord Mayor. The service was telecast into the hall. Huge comments from lots of people on the way we conducted this service. Fr Samuel delivered a superb homily which was most appreciated by the family." May I add my thanks to Fr Samuel and to all the ministry team; we are blessed by a good family here at St Peter's.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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