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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 17

28 July, 2013

The musings this week are a summary of the discussion and reports from the July meeting of the St Peter's Vestry.

Catholic Evangelism
This month the Vestry were asked to read the first part of Bishop Stephen Cottrell's book Catholic Evangelism and then to reflect on this as a group. The terminology used by Bp Stephen was discussed: "evangelism is not just for evangelicals ... Anglo-Catholics need to be evangelists too or our expression of Anglicanism will die." We also had a useful discussion around the use of the word "Catholic"; surely we are Anglicans, not Catholics. Within the Anglican Church there are two distinct traditions: Evangelical and Catholic. The confusion lies in a misunderstanding of the distinction between Anglicans who are of a Catholic tradition (stemming from the Oxford Movement) and Roman Catholicism. At St Peter's we have a long Anglican tradition that is Catholic; other names for it are Anglo-Catholic, High Church and Tractarian. So, yes, we are Catholic at St Peter's but clearly not Roman Catholic. Catholic Evangelism is about celebrating the rich Catholic Anglican tradition we inherit at St Peter's, and firmly rooted in that tradition, finding ways of more effectively proclaiming the gospel of Jesus to the City of Melbourne.

Growth in Worship
It is encouraging to see a sustained increase in attendance at our 9.30am Family Mass. The children's ministry that Katherine Barnett and her team have built up over the years has been an important contributor, and the bold decision of the parish at last year's AGM to employ an Assistant Curate has added to this — not to mention the energy and enthusiasm that Fr Samuel has brought to the task since February 2013. But we cannot rest on our laurels; there is much still to do to build further on this success and to develop growth strategies for the 11am High Mass congregation. This is not only the task of Vicar and Vestry, of course, it is something that every member of the congregation needs to contribute towards in some way or another. Growth begins in prayer, acknowledging our dependence on God, and actively seeking God's will for us as individuals and as a church. It is easy to sit back and be critical of others — that requires nothing of us, and in fact inhibits growth. The real challenge is to pray that ancient prayer from Isaiah 6.8: "here I am; send me."

Lazarus Centre
The final amount for this year's Charitable Foundation Appeal is $34,520 - an outstanding effort — and a huge thank you to all who contributed. We can now build on the excellent work that Fr Philip has pioneered as Chaplain to the Lazarus Centre, and look at extending our services to Melbourne's homeless.

Klinger Scholarship
Alex Ross has been a recipient of the Klinger Scholarship for several years. He has now completed his studies, and we look forward to his visit to St Peter's on Sunday 11th August, when he will preach. The 2013 Klinger Scholar is Nisher Kunoo, from the Karen refugee Anglican congregation in Werribee. Nisher is training for Holy Orders, and will be visiting us on Sunday 8th September.

Vicar's Study Leave
I will be taking study leave in England at the end of September and early October, having been invited to attend a colloquium on Faith and Positive Psychology, hosted by Prof. Marty Seligman. The theme of the gathering is "Drawn into the Future" and those attending include former Chief Rabbi, Jonanthan Sacks; Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard; and the Dean of Union Theological Seminary, Serene Jones.

Treasurer's Report
Our treasurer, Catherine McGovern, is doing a great job of building the 2013/14 budget ahead of this year's AGM. An important thing to note is the ongoing cost of maintaining our heritage buildings, which amounts to some $70,000 per annum before utilities or any other costs are added. There are smaller parishes in the Diocese for whom this amount alone would be their annual budget. Our parish has been running a budget deficit for a number of years, and the Treasurer and Vestry are very keen to move towards achieving a balanced budget. The challenge, however, is to increase our income to keep up with the significant costs of maintaining an historic church such as ours. Our offertory giving is running a little behind budget this year, and while our congregational numbers are growing slowly, this clearly cannot be seen as a panacea. Vestry are looking carefully at strategic directions in this area, such as making better use of our buildings and exploring alternative finding sources.

Vestry Sub-Committees
The Property and Marketing Committee take very seriously the stewardship of our buildings. It is a huge job, on a budget that is never enough for the task, but we are blessed with a dedicated and skilled committee, led by Craig Wilson. A new group is the Communications Committee, chaired by Rachel Ellyard. Its brief is directly linked to the parish Mission Action Plan and clearly relates to the task of Catholic Evangelism: letting people in the City know about God's work here at St Peter's. Another highly skilled committee is the Finance and Investment sub-committee, that supports the work of the treasurer, and is currently looking at such issues as developing a Bequests Policy and an Investments Policy for the parish. The reinstitution of the Handfield Club, for those who would like to leave a donation to St Peter's in their will, is another project initiated by this committee.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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