Download a pdf of this sermon suitable for printing.

Rector's report St Philip's AGM 9th March 2008

Rector's Report

2007 a quick review

Arriving back at St Philip's in mid January after our six months in the UK and then a locum at St Nicholas' North Goulburn meant a delayed start to the year! Although refreshed and positive about our return there was a lot more settling down and acclimatising than expected.

The year began reasonably well with Lenten observance and Easter celebrations! Soon after that I became aware of the seriousness of my mother Josie Lamerton's illness and so at the end of April I travelled to Adelaide to spend time with her returning in time to prepare for St Philip's 50th Anniversary celebration. The following week was the Clergy Conference and then on Saturday I was told of Josie's death following surgery. So we then headed back to Adelaide where I delivered the eulogy at mum's funeral.

Naturally family issues needed to be dealt with and so after the retreat in August I travelled back to Adelaide to work on some unresolved things with my father Bob Lamerton. When in late October I received news that Bob's health had declined considerably I set off to visit him. It was a timely visit as I was able to have only very brief conversation with him before he died the following morning! I returned to Canberra to celebrate the All Saints and All Souls Mass before returning to Adelaide for dad's funeral and then home just in time for the Community Fair! By that stage we were on the way to Advent and Christmas with all its events and celebrations! It was a busy and emotionally draining year!

As well regular parish activities I am a member of the Board of the ANU Christian Chaplaincy as well as being one of the visiting chaplains on Thursday mornings. I am also Area Dean of Central Canberra, which involves gathering the clergy of the area for regular meetings, keeping in touch with them pastorally, attending the Bishop's Clergy Advisory Group meetings bi-monthly as well as being part of the Clergy Appointment Board process for vacant parishes in my area. This task involved many meetings regarding the appointment of the new rector at St John's Canberra.

As well as the Clergy Conference I attended the Clergy Retreat and Synod.

As part of my own personal and professional care I also attended my Professional Peer Group, which meets six times a year for a day each time.

Pastoral Care
Pastoral Care used to be the sole responsibility of the priest/rector of a parish but more and more does the priest administer and oversee Pastoral Care rather than do it all. I have reached the stage where I am aware that I should not expect to do all the Pastoral Care but to build structures which cover it. Pastoral visits by the priest/rector are now few and far between and need to be pre arranged at times to suit both priest and parish members in a society which is very mobile.

The Parish Roll is in the process of being checked and amended so that we have a resource for keeping in touch with members of our St Philip's family. Thanks to Baden Williams for managing this and to Doreen Odom for taking on the oversight of the Pastoral Care for Parish Council. I think with the experience of last year Doreen will be able to see more clearly what is needed for more effective pastoral care in the parish. Telecare operates in a number of parishes as a way of keeping in touch via telephone. A modified version would be a very useful means of Pastoral Care at St Philip's

It is sad when difficulties, disputes and grievances occur in the life of a Christian Congregation. We will never agree totally on everything but the structures and processes are available for the working through of such differences to prevent the breakdown of relationships in the parish. If you have a grievance with the rector please talk to the wardens! Generally the wardens are the first point of contact to bring issues of concern before the rector or Parish Council.

Children's Ministry
Developing a Children's Ministry Program when you are also a parent of the children involved presents some difficulties but I think we did very well considering the resources and facilities available! Thanks to Richard and Genevieve Wade, Fiona and Ben Dyer, Rebecca and Stephen Palethorpe and Doreen and Fred Odom and others for keeping the children's program going.

After discussions last year proposals that we employ a Children's Worker met with general approval and some finance for the purpose. We are now about to embark on a campaign to employ someone who will assist the parents and provide resources as well as do some teaching and coordination of the whole Children's Ministry. This is how the ad reads!

Do you love working with children? Are you passionate about teaching the word of God in ways that engage children? St Philip's Anglican Church in O'Connor is looking for a coordinator to run its school age and preschool Sunday program. Hours: up to 8 hours per week (including Sunday). Interested? Contact Rob Lamerton on 61617334 for more details

The Children's Ministry raises the whole issue of Child Protection. If we are involved in a leadership or teaching role with children under 18 years of age then we are expected to participate in the Diocesan awareness program "Keeping Children Safe". It is absolutely imperative that we encourage as many people as possible to attend one of the "Keeping Children Safe" workshops and over time attend the refresher courses. Brian McKinlay is undertaking the training courses to be a "Keeping Children Safe" workshop presenter. This means that eventually we will be able to conduct our own St Philip's workshops.

Thanks to Doreen Odom's efforts the children receive a card on their Birthday. Unfortunately I often forget the birthday list when preparing the pewsheet and some birthdays are omitted.

Administration
I have a number of "disabilities"! One of them is poor administrative skills! One of my failings is that I take on tasks or ideas without first ensuring that there is sufficient interest and willingness to staff projects. I am attempting to organize my week around the seven days each of three parts (morning, afternoon and evening). Of the Twenty one segments I am keeping six for self and family and scheduling work into the other fifteen but not in the same pattern each week! Let's see how it works!

Our relationship with the St Philip's Kindergarten is friendly and clearly laid out in the lease agreement. We could not have better tenants but we will need to soon look at the lease again! Our relationship with Colin and Pat Forbes and CAMRA is far less formal and not laid down in quite so clear a way. Because we have not done so for some years it may be good time to review.

Planned Giving/Stewardship
It is a number of years since we have made any concerted effort to remind our St Philip's family of the need to review our giving. The term "Stewardship" used to be applied to giving to the mission of the church! We now realize that our giving to God's mission is PART of a bigger issue of stewardship. The simple program of three addresses in October proved very effective in stirring us to a deeper level of giving and resulted in regular weekly giving reaching the target and meeting our budget. This of course meant that we were able to get some necessary repairs done and enter 2008 in a much better financial position. Thankfully we have a generous gift towards our Children's Minister but more will be required if we are to build this ministry.

The Diocese
For many of us the parish local congregation is all we know of the Anglican Church but we are part of a wider Diocesan structure under the pastoral care of the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn. Not only that, but the Diocesan administration oversees all church property and insurances as well as larger legal and administrative issues!

Recently after almost fifteen years Bishop George Browning retired as our diocesan bishop. Although we did not get to see him very often our diocese of Canberra and Goulburn has benefited greatly from his energy and ability to see the big picture. His lasting legacy will be the recovery of the financial base of the diocese. Bishop George and Margaret Browning will retire to the South Coast after some time in England. May God grant them a long and happy retirement!

While we await the process of election of a new diocesan bishop, Bishop Allan Ewing is the Administrator of the diocese and Bishop Trevor Edwards remains Assistant Bishop with special focus on mission. I have arranged for Bishop Allan to visit on May 4th when we celebrate our patron Saint Philip with St James. On that day we will "Receive into Communicant Membership" of the Anglican Church those who have come from other churches and are beginning to discover the mysteries of the Anglican Church! There will also be the opportunity for some to be confirmed. I plan an intensive Confirmation Preparation a couple of weeks before the bishop's visit.

Moving on
Many thanks to Wardens, Hardy, Roger and Doreen, and Parish Councillors, Shane, Fiona, and Fred for their patience and encouragement in what has been an untidy and yet busy year! May this year be more settled and fruitful!

An early Easter has plunged us into Lent much earlier this year and we are barely into March and preparing for Holy Week and Easter. My trip to Perth for the marriage of my nephew Joel Lamerton to Catherine Ronchi was a great opportunity for our family to celebrate after last year's sorrow. Now we at St Philip's can begin to move through the year. The Annual General Meeting of the St Philip's family is a good time to look back and see from where we have come and to plan for the future!

The question for us all and as a body of Christians is: "What on earth are we here for?" Put simply WWW . . . Worship — To worship God in all we do! Witness — To tell the story of God's grace love and healing in Jesus! Work To work to make the Kingdom of God a little more real in terms of justice and peace every day!

Rob Lamerton-->