Annual General Meeting
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I am very pleased to present this report, with the important supplement containing additional material from throughout the year, at this the 11th annual general meeting of the parish that I have chaired as the incumbent. I am also delighted to confirm that after the required review and consultation process, the archbishop has extended this incumbency for a further five years from October 4th.
It is a matter of some significance to be able to offer a very positive report on the condition of the parish; our worship, our ministry, our outreach, our contribution to the wider Church and community, at a time of such disruption, controversy and now financially internationally, near collapse. It is not at all clear how all this will resolve in either Church or State. Our intention here at St Peter's however is to work with the existing and agreed template of our Parish Vision Statement, to be a community of faith that has much to be, to do and to offer in such times.
I would like to highlight three matters in particular: that a sizeable and varied team ministry is what we have here, that the financial support given is very encouraging and that we are positioning ourselves as a place of ministry training and formation.
The leadership and ministry team, lay and ordained, voluntary or paid, is of crucial importance. There is a sacrificial commitment of time and energies from a core group that makes it possible for St Peter's Eastern Hill to have the impact it does. The parish owes a great debt of gratitude to all those who are doing this. That much more is possible given further resources human and material is also the case. That is one of the exciting things about the location and the nature of this city church. Responsibilities and obligations flow from this. Year by year we seek to rise to these challenges and to do better than we have.
I would like to make particular reference to the generous giving to the Parish and to the Foundation, which has over these past several years actually turned this place around. This is in relation to substantial bequests, the regular giving week by week and the annual end of financial year Foundation Appeal. These donations are the actions of people who have a commitment to what happens here and who value what we are trying to be and to do. The significant improvement in this area of parish life in the last few years is very encouraging and affirming of the directions being taken. If the Parish Vision Statement indicates the shape of what we hope for or are moving towards, it is the financial combination of healthy levels of giving and a growing endowment, supporting specific areas such as care for the needy, the maintenance and improvement of our buildings and clergy training, along with the promise of more to come, that enables us to approach what lies ahead with a very considerable degree of confidence.
A special responsibility that we have is in the area of the support and discernment of vocations to ministry in the Church and the religious life. The shortage of catholic vocations in the past decade is now having an impact. Men and women in this tradition have so much that can be offered to the wider Church. One of our key opportunities is to be an ongoing and sought-after location for training curacies and theological student placements, especially from Trinity College with whom we have close ties. Such placements will be of mutual benefit. They will also be hard work. But in the longer term, some at least of what has been experienced here will go with them. If our tradition is to have life and growth, this must be so. Central to the possibility of such a vision of ministry formation being fundamental to St Peter's is the additional core position of an experienced and gifted assistant priest as ministry colleague of the incumbent.
So at an Annual General Meeting we give thanks for the year that has been completed and make note of those who have made contribution. Over the years I have covered a wide sweep of parish life, because there are so many who contribute so much. The last year was no exception. Some have moved to other things — our Director of Music Grantley McDonald and Sr Valmai CHN. Helen Drummond is retiring as a warden and Katherine Presley as treasurer. Jan Gordon-Clark is retiring as chairman of the ISS. We thank them warmly for all they accomplished.
John Taaff and Rachel Ellyard continue as exemplary wardens. Warren Collins, Carol O'Connor, Adam Blackmore, Katherine Barnett, Anne Wuttke and Joyce Bruce have worked long and hard, as do all those who lead and support our music and our serving teams; John Weretka, Andrew Raiskums, Julian Clarke, Linda Kent and Peter Bryce. We thank vestry members and those who have participated in other parish groups. We thank our welcomers and hospitality and catering people, those who read and those who pray, who volunteer for the Breakfast Program and the Ryles family for their care of our gardens.
Fr Matthew Healy has made an outstanding contribution as assistant priest. We hope to have him fulltime from next July. Br Chaplain Soma and his family have made their mark on our community. We wish them well as they move in January to a new appointment. Fr Tat Hean Lie, Robert Whalley and Sr Avrill and Sr Jenny now complete the resident ministry team onsite, with extensive hospital and university chaplaincy work. Frs Robert Street, Tom Brown, Lawrie Styles, Neil Fryer and Stephen Miles continue to provide valued support.
I commend the following reports for the year 2007-2008 for your attention, even as I ask God's blessing on us all for the year that is ahead.
Fr John Davis
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St Peter's Eastern Hill, Melbourne Australia.