Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 30
28 October, 2012
This week's musings are based on the Vicar's report to the October Vestry, with the aim of improving our communications in the parish.
Signs of growth
I am encouraged by the ongoing signs of growth in the life of our parish. Last weekend was a good example of this. Three parish families brought forward four children for baptism at the 9.30am service, which drew a congregation of more than 150 people; the celebration that followed in the hall was a wonderful coming together of our parish community as it spilled over to include the 11am congregation. One parishioner said to me afterwards: "it feels like St Peter's is coming back to life again." That afternoon +Graeme and I launched the "Flourishing of Mysticism" series that drew a good-sized group of parishioners and a number of visitors, nearly forty in all. One couple who came were out for a walk in the city, dropped in to visit the church, met a parishioner who one of them knew and ended up staying for the talk. It is wonderful to see God drawing people into St Peter's, and our parishioners responding through their friendship and hospitality.
Our ongoing prayers are with the Vicar's Warden, John Taaff, who has been in hospital for the past few weeks. After some time in I.C.U., and subsequently coronary care, John is now in one of the regular wards at Cabrini hospital and making slow but good progress. Last week we said farewell to Marjorie Churton who joined the parish in the 1950s. The parish pulled together and put on a full Requiem Mass for Marjorie and a generous afternoon tea following the service. At the end of the afternoon one of the congregation shouted out "thanks St Peter's" to which there was a loud applause. I felt very proud to be your Vicar!
After weeks of careful planning we will launch the new Incorporation Program this Sunday after the 9.30am service. My thanks to Di Clark, who has been heading this up, and to everyone on the team who has volunteered to be part of this important new initiative. The idea is to have two people rostered at the 9.30am and 11am services, in addition to the sides-people, to facilitate the welcome of visitors and help newer members integrate into our parish community. We should never see a visitor or newer member sitting or standing alone at morning tea. Another new initiative that has come to life this month is the chaplaincy to State Parliament. After several months of getting to know those who attend the parliamentary prayer group at St Peter's, I wrote a formal letter in August to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and President of the Legislative Council, requesting the reinstitution of the role of Parliamentary Chaplain. This month I was delighted to be asked to take up my first official role at the memorial service in Parliament to mark the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings. It was encouraging to see this role acknowledged in The Age's coverage of the event, as well as the publication of a moving picture of parishioners Sue Scinto and Wayan Tedja who were also in attendance (See here for The Age report).
I am pleased that Vestry has agreed that we need to staff-for-growth, and has therefore taken the brave move of setting aside money for a curate in the 2013 Budget that will be presented to next month's AGM. The Wardens and I have initiated a selection process, and we should be in the position to make the announcement of an appointment before Christmas, although the new curate would not start until February. Stuart Hibberd and I are slowly working our way through a much-needed update of the Position Descriptions of other parish employees. This month our Parish Administrator, Kosta Soteriou, took up his ongoing contract after a three-month probationary period. I am delighted with the professional and enthusiastic way that Kosta has thrown himself into his new job and already he is putting his own stamp on the position. The Sacristan's position has long been a rather ad hoc arrangement and consequently the Wardens and I have put a great deal of energy over the past two months into reviewing Adam Blackmore's role and creating a more transparent and realistic ongoing position. I am grateful to Adam for sticking with the process, which was not easy at times, but we now have a much deeper appreciation of just how much he contributes to the worshipping life of the parish in this role. Another significant stipended ministry position in the parish is the Lazarus Chaplain. Fr Philip Gill was recently commissioned onto this new position and he has hit the ground running. Check out his inaugural sermon on the web site. We are blessed with a great team and over the coming months the Wardens and I will continue this important work of updating the Position Descriptions of all those currently employed by the parish.
Evensong & Benediction
After a month-long period of consultation with the priests, servers and laity who support or are interested in our Sunday service of Evensong and Benediction, a way forward is starting to emerge. The service has been poorly attended for some time, but it is an important component of our Anglo-Catholic cycle of Sunday worship, and everyone I spoke to is keen to preserve it in some form. Unfortunately this concern is not translating into an increase in weekly attendance, despite very eloquent and gracious pleas from the Wardens. My proposal, therefore, is that we offer a simplified form of the service on the second and fourth Sundays. The third Sunday currently has a focus on the Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham and I believe we should build on. On the first Sunday of the month I would like to see the development of a full choral Evensong and Benediction, led by a new parish choir. This will clearly take some effort and expertise to put into practice, and I am suggesting that it be a project for our organist and the new curate in 2013. In the meantime we will continue with the current arrangements, except that we may move Sunday evening Mass from 6.30pm to 6pm as there is too long a gap between the two services due to historical reasons. If and when we do this it will be well advertised. Please do come and support our Sunday evening worship whenever you can, and tell others about it too if you get the opportunity. Although small ... it is undoubtedly beautiful.
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