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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 30

27 October, 2013

The following is a slightly edited version of the Vicar's report to the October Vestry.

My thanks to the Wardens for granting two weeks' study leave to attend a Positive Psychology colloquium in Canterbury, England, around the theme "Prospective Psychology: Being Called into the Future." It was a timely event for me personally as we at St Peter's are thinking and praying so much about the future God has for us. Can we sustain our current parish structures and models of ministry in the coming years? What does evangelism look like for us as Anglo-Catholics? What future is there for Christian community in an increasingly secular society?

Looking at last month's Vestry minutes, while in England, I was heartened to see the formation of a new sub-committee — the Strategic Development Committee — to grasp the nettle of too many years of deficit budgets in the parish. In the light of this, I found visiting churches in London a great way of dreaming and praying about future possibilities for St Peter's. Two churches stood out in particular for the creative way they have utilised space and worked with the unique features of their site: one was a smaller project, at St James' Catholic Church, Twickenham (and the other a gold-plated example of what an inner-city church can achieve, St Martin-in-the-Fields. I will talk in more detail about these examples of church development at the AGM.

Of course the future of a church is not only about properties and finances, pressing as these are for Vestry in particular. Church properties and finances are there to serve a purpose: the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why we made a considerable investment of time and resources into the launch of our two-year Catholic Evangelism programme on the Feast of the Assumption. The fact that it grew from a humble idea, to a bigger-than-Ben-Hur event, may say something about the need for such a direction among Anglo-Catholics in Victoria as well as our own parish needs. I had a strong sense of the Holy Spirit at work that evening, as I think did others.

One of the highlights of my study leave was meeting Bishop Stephen Cottrell, and firming up some of the details of his visit to St Peter's in July 2015. In last week's pew sheet I dedicated a page to a new resource he co-authored, that was launched at Lambeth Palace earlier this month, "Pilgrim: a Course for the Christian Journey." I would like to pilot the course at St Peter's in 2014, as an integral part of our outreach and evangelism programme.

Finally, a brief reflection on two Synods. The Melbourne Diocesan Synod was an impressive occasion this year, as we put aside our ecclesiastical differences and passed the Parish Governance Act 2013, a significant piece of legislation that will be reported on in some detail at our parish AGM in November. I would also like to acknowledge the decision that the Ballarat Diocese made at their Synod last weekend to ordain women. I understand that Bishop Garry is to be commended for the pastoral and respectful way he facilitated the debate.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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