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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 30

25 October, 2015

September each year is our parish-giving month. It is traditionally a time when we reflect on stewardship and the financial realities of the parish. I don't know about you, but for me last month felt rather heavy; even depressing; a strong dose of reality therapy, perhaps, after the joys and excitement of our Parish Mission in July. For years St Peter's has relied on income from bequests to balance the budget, and clearly we can't keep doing this year after year. It is a harsh reality that we need to face up to, and there are meetings after each service today to discuss this reality. That being said, we must be careful as a church community not to let money, or more particularly anxiety about money, dominate what we do. We serve God, not mammon, and there are harmful spiritual consequences when churches get the balance wrong. Some say to me "let's face it Fr Hugh, the bottom line is that we are a business; a not-for-profit business." Well, yes and no. Yes, of course we must be good stewards and comply with the Diocesan and secular regulatory requirements concerning our finances and fiduciary duties. But being a church is so much more than that. I recently attended the AICD Company Director's course, in my role as a Director on the Board of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The language preferred even in these circles is "for purpose" rather than "not-for-profit". It is our purpose that is most important, not our profit, or lack thereof.

So, what is our purpose? I think that was made very clear by Bp Stephen Cottrell during the Parish Mission. We were encouraged to enter into the gospel story of Christ's birth, death and resurrection "as if for the first time." Bp Stephen encouraged me to read prayerfully the anonymous prayer cards that were offered after each of the three Mission Services. It quite literally brought me to tears, as your Vicar, when I entered into prayer with you, through your heartfelt offerings and pledges. God's love through Christ is at the very core of all we do and are as an Anglo-Catholic church community. And our purpose is surely to grow and deepen in that love.

The Parish Council is presently working on a preliminary draft of our Mission Action Plan for 2016-18, which will be presented at the November Annual Meeting and then developed further by the parish staff and volunteers. If our purpose is to grow in the love of God, as individuals and as congregations, how will we do this? Some of the ministry areas the Parish Council are grappling with are Catholic Evangelism, Pastoral Care, Children and Youth, Anglo-Catholicism, Faith Development, Social Justice and Stewardship. With your help, over the coming weeks, we will draw out concrete ways in which these ministry priorities can be strengthened. We would love to work with every member of the congregation in shaping these goals and planning for the future, so please come to meetings if you possibly can, and at any time feel free to talk to the Clergy and Parish Council about your concerns and ideas.

St Peter's Pre-Advent Program

We are blessed to have a fantastic pre-Advent preaching and teaching program coming up over the next month. Please add these events to your diary, and come to as many as you can.

Tonight, 25th October, 6pm. The first of our revamped Evensong and Benediction services. The guest preacher is Bp Lindsay Urwin, former administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Do stay for wine and cheese in the Parish Hall after the service.

Monday 2nd November, 6.15pm. Join us for the All Souls' High Mass and Meal. A chance to honour and pray for our dearly departed. Fr Hugh will be preaching on "The Great Cloud of Witnesses."

Sunday 8th November, 11am. We are blessed to have Bp Martin Wharton, from the Diocese of Newcastle in England, preach at High Mass, while he is in Melbourne for the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC) international conference.

Saturday 21st November, 9.30am – 12.30pm. One of the world's leading practitioners and teachers of Christian meditation, the Rev'd Dr Sarah Bachelard will leading this ISS day on contemplative practice. Not to be missed!

Sunday 22nd November, 10am — a Combined High Mass for Christ the King. The Rev'd Dr Sarah Bachelard will be our guest preacher. Please note the change in time due to the Annual Meeting that will commence promptly at 12noon after Mass.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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