Reverend Rob Lamerton
6 March 2005, Lent 4
As I begin this report I am very aware that I have now been at St Philip's for six years! I am also very aware that this is the longest stay I have had in one parish! This will tell you how much I feel at home among you and how much we enjoy living, working and worshiping at St Philip's O'Connor. I am also aware that sometimes after such a time there may be need for a change of ministry style but I did not detect this at our Vision and Planning Weekend and I have not sought a change of parishes. I do sometimes wonder if someone with a different set of ministry gifts or skills may be necessary to help grow St Philip's to the next stage. I do feel confident that with the wise and judicious use of the ministry gifts of the people of St Philip's that we can continue to grow.
I use the word grow rather than to talk in terms of numbers and extra services of worship because to strengthen the relationships among us, to develop our existing worship program and make better the things we do already is also growth. Having said that we have grown in many ways as we have welcomed new families and additions to those already among us.
When we undertook the process of looking at our Vision and Planning process on 19th and 20th February a number of people indicated an interest in some of our "Anglican Tradition". Since then my mind has been running over the words "Anglican tradition". It seems to me that Anglican Tradition (capital "T") is about Bishops and Ministry about the place of the Bible and Sacraments the use of the Prayer Book and the history of the Church. The Tradition is the sort of thing we depend on for our structure and framework whereas the traditions (lower case "t") are the variables some of which we are expected to follow and some about which we make our own choices. I suppose it is a little like building a house where certain building standards are used to guide the structure and framing and these are given or set. The colour of the bricks or paintwork depends on personal choice! Each Anglican congregation is expected to use the framework but is free to express some local choice about the shape and colour of the traditions.
As we gather today for the Annual General Meeting we are well into Lent and on our way to an early Easter (about as early as it can possibly be)! Today's reading from the Gospel according to John ch. 9 is about the man born blind. As usual the use of the words about seeing in John's gospel have differing levels of meaning. There are those words which refer to sight and there are those which refer to perception and understanding such as saying "I see" when we mean "I understand". The time of Lent follows the journey of the people of God with Moses through the wilderness. At the same time it is a time of journeying with Jesus and discovering along the way important aspects of our faith. In Lent 1 the message was about the need for faithful obedience and right choices to overturn the power of evil. Lent 2 was about the freedom of God's Spirit and Grace. Lent 3 was about Christ quenching our spiritual thirst and today Lent 4 about being enabled to "see" and understand in the midst of a world which seems to so often be blind.
Last year I mentioned the need to look carefully at the possibility of a program for the children who bless us with their presence Sunday by Sunday. We did have a meeting and came to an arrangement about care and activity last year and then within a short time the Dyer family (Ben, Fiona, Sian and Catriona) and the Begbie family (Tim, Kim, Ruth and Matthew) moved away leaving our numbers depleted for the care of the children and the activity program. Fortunately numbers have grown again with the arrival of the Myburgh and Odom families, Kate Pearcy and little Stella. We will meet again on Sunday 13th March at 11.30am with Jeannette McHugh to revitalize the Children's Church activities. As well as caring for the children our hope is that we can make our worship a meaningful activity for the parents and adults who bring them as well. If you have any skills or materials which would be helpful please contact Jeannette McHugh or Richard Wade. The meeting on Sunday 13th March will be followed by a BarBQue.
PLEASE NOTE! All people who work with children or young people in the Church are expected to attend a Child Protection Workshop. Even teachers and welfare workers who have attended other workshops are expected to attend a workshop. We as a Christian community need to ensure that ALL children are protected and that adults are also protected by knowing the issues of Child Protection. The only way to ensure that we do it to our standard and satisfy community expectation and the law is to run our own workshops.
On the welcoming of new people – it is always difficult to recall just who have added to our congregation each week and if I forget any please tell me! I have mentioned the Myburghs (Nick, Andrea, Joshua and Samuel) and the Odom family (Fred, Doreen, Jesse and Jordan) and Kate with husband Anthony and Stella. We also welcomed a brand new Noah Palethorpe! But there's more! Brian McKinlay and James Kim have been a great encouragement … and they sit near the front! Lately we have also added Erika Langman, Roger Sutcliffe and Rob Roper. We have also welcomed Lucy Boom with Cameron Isobel and as well as Adrian and Val Reeves who have seen the light and switched from 10.00am to 8.00am. It has also been great to have Baden and Anne Williams at 10.00am on Wednesdays. There are some who have arrived since the New Year!
I have mentioned a few farewells but should also say how we miss David and Beryl Gowty who are in Noumea and Trish and Todd Hepworth who have followed the trend and moved to the Pacific (to Tonga).
We also see a number of students arrive each year! Last year I arranged a Sunday Evening BarBQue to welcome some students and it was great to have Eloise Wright as a regular at 8am. Liz Neaum with Nathan McGrath and Rachel Neaum and I intend that we should do the same this year to help the newcomers find their feet in Canberra and hopefully to include them into our St Philip's family. One recent new arrival said how surprised he was to discover that we did not have an evening service because that was a more suitable time for students who were not known for being active on a Sunday morning! One of the priorities recognized at our Vision and Planning weekend was to investigate the possibility of an alternative time and style of worship. Somehow it seems God is trying to get us to take seriously this need!
The 10.00am Eucharist has shown some worrying trends! Some weeks as I start I am concerned we only seem to have about ten people. I believe it is right to start on time or the service appears to go on too long! Having said that I realize how difficult it is to get children going on time! With my service commitments starting early Sandy was mostly left to her own devices with three children to prepare. I also believe we need to have a look at tightening up the running of the 10am worship to streamline it without making it rushed. I'm sure we can do this in conjunction with the working in of the Children's Program. The TV shows which appear to be the most relaxed are often the ones most tightly run! Lay Readers, Servers, Musicians and Priest need to work together to create worship which is both meaningful and moving because it is well planned as well as having space for the Spirit to inspire.
The 8.00am congregation appears to be growing but I would like to know if that is because people prefer the said service or if there are other reasons. I would still like to add to the number of people administering Holy Communion and Serving
In 2004 we licensed Devin Combs Bowles as a Liturgical Lay Minister (Lay Reader) but somehow we have not been able to work him into the role. I value very much the work and contribution of our team of lay Readers and those who administer Communion. Thanks! I have indicated to Brian McKinlay that we would like to have him licensed as a liturgical Lay Minister and use his considerable experience and theological training to add further strength to our ranks.
I am grateful to those who have taken up the management of our rosters: Margaret Woodbridge for Morning Tea; Janine Studholme for Cleaning; Denise Manley for Readers; Grace Barnes for Sidespersons (people?); Sandra Lamerton for Flowers; "Sandora" Lamerton for Pandora's and for all who add to our worship and life together. Thanks also go to Rhonda Evans and Kerry Anne Cousins with Nancye Anderson and Joyce Webster for looking after the linen and Mira Barratt for her care of the brass. Then there are the money counters John Cunliffe and Clive Lowes. I know I shouldn't have started on the names!
At 10am the administration of the Intinction Cup appears to be working with the two (sipping) chalices. I personally have difficulty with the whole concept of the Intinction Cup but it seems many people prefer to use it so it seems worthwhile (except when this poor old priest gets confused by those administering!).
There is nothing like having good servers in the sanctuary and whether they are robed and take part in the procession or walk up to assist in their civvies they make the preparation and administration of Holy Communion a much smoother and more orderly event. I do pray that we may recruit about three or four more who will make up a complete roster. Their role in setting up and cleaning up the vessels is also of vital importance.
Our worship is enhanced by the music ministry of Colin and Pat Forbes and for that we give thanks to God. They also coordinate the CAMRA/St Philip's Scholars who add to our special occasions and regularly to the normal Sunday program. Please note that there is a fund for the sponsorship of the scholars! There is more about this in the Music Report. I want also to acknowledge others who have given us the benefit of their musical talent such as Meg Colwell, Shirley Barrett and Lucy Aplin. It would be remiss of me not to mention the wonderful special events and times of worship but I do want to say how much the Bach "St John Passion" was the hit of the year.
I have railed on about the movability of the Altar Rail and I would still like to keep that idea before us. Fortunately I have had a donation towards the work and hope to revisit the idea with some expert woodworkers through the year.
For those interested in statistics!
Attendance at services etc should be available at the time of the AGM.
Baptism:–We conducted only 6 baptisms at St Philip' in 2004 but all were notable! There was Zara Mann, Samuel and Nicholas Wade and Noah Palethorpe. The other two were Jesse Dot White and Laura Jean Michell both of whom have connections through their families. It is an interesting phenomenon but I think it will be a continuing trend and a challenge to the way we do baptism preparation.
Confirmation:–We did not have a Confirmation in 2004.
Preparation for Holy Communion:-No preparation in 2004. There seems to be a need to do some simple teaching in 2005 among our "littlies" who take communion.
Weddings:-There were three weddings at St Philips in 2004 and one wedding at the Duntroon chapel because it happened when the CAMRA production of The Sorcerer was being staged.
Funerals:-I conducted 10 funerals in 2004 only two of which used St Philip's Church. Mostly they were at the Norwood Park Crematorium. We said farewell to a faithful parish member in Irene Keast. (In later years Irene used to catch buses from Monash! Irene was also responsible for the gift of the new white vestments and sanctuary table.) There were also funerals for Jo Johnson and Athol Barratt and John Williams who had been members of St Philip's as well. I was privileged to conduct funerals for parents of some of our St Philip's family. There was Joyce Miller (Rhonda Evans' mother) and George Colin Forbes at Leura (Colin Forbes dad).
Parish Hall and St Philip's Kindergarten. We managed to negotiate a new five year lease agreement with the Kindergarten at an improved rent. We did not seek full market rental because of the improvements made by the Kindergarten and because they are good long standing tenants. The rental income is about half of the clergy stipend and is therefore of considerable value in maintaining the parish. Due to regular flooding when it rains we need to act quickly to make the necessary repairs and replace the roof on the two lower sections. The first quote sought for this work puts the cost at about $30,000. All sorts of short cuts over the years have proven ineffective and so we need to act before life is endangered and the building beyond repair.
I am grateful to God for all those who have given their time to be Wardens and Parish Councilors in 2004 — Chris Cheah, Devin Combs Bowles, and Janine Studholme, Ben Dyer, Pat Forbes, Leighton Mann, Jeannette McHugh, and Shane Woodburn who as Parish Treasurer has done a wonderful job! We have achieved a great deal in maintaining our worship program and welcoming style, negotiating the Kindergarten lease, making some repairs to the hall and rectory celebrating some special occasions and adding to our number.
We have now a new Parish Council with my Rector's Warden, Devin Combs Bowles and Councillors Elizabeth Allinson, James Kim, Helen Palethorpe, Janine Studholme, Richard Wade, and Shane Woodburn.
I am naturally disappointed that there are not yet two people's Wardens but I believe it is the congregation's responsibility to nominate and elect them. I do hope that it is not a sign that people are losing interest in the life of St Philip's.
I have thought for a while that there must be a better way for Parish Council to work and that is with the sub-group or sub-committee structure. The Parish Vision weekend seemed to suggest that others thought the same way. Since the year 2000 the Governance of the Diocese Ordinance has offered great flexibility in organizing parish structures.
This must be the first time I have NOT mentioned Pastoral Care! I continue to be frustrated at the overwhelming amount of administration which seems to pin me to the office and get in the way of Pastoral Care. I still aim to develop the Pastoral Care of the St Philip's Parish.
I must say thanks to Leighton Mann who has been a wonderful practical friend and helper as well as Parish Council chairperson and helping with the pewsheet and email as well as banking. I have valued Chris Cheah's friendship, wisdom, insight and administrative help as my Warden in 2004.
I look forward to the challenges of 2005 and pray for God's Peace and Strength for all of us!