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Vicar's Musings for Easter 5

06 May, 2012

The following is taken from this week's "Vicar's Report to Vestry":

Thursday 19th April 2012 is a date now etched in my mind, and no doubt in due course into the future history books of St Peter's Eastern Hill. It was such a blessing to have my parents and closest friends attend from New Zealand, as well as three rows of Geelong Grammar staff and students, and an equal number from St Andrew's parish in Corio including the Karen Youth Choir. A big thank you to Helen Drummond, Peter Bryce, Andrew Raiskums, Sue Skillington, Rhys Arvidson and everyone who put so much energy into the event. It truly was a wedding of sorts!

I have to confess my first Sunday was a little overwhelming, as I chose to preach and celebrate at all three morning masses, as well as Evensong and Benediction. I am so glad I did it, however, as I wanted to get the message out that each congregation is of equal value what ever its size. There was then a 6.15pm mass and devotions for Our Lady of Walsingham followed by supper. The day could have finally concluded with helping to find overnight accommodation for a homeless couple, but unfortunately I was asleep by then and didn't get the message on my mobile until morning.

Over the two weeks since then I have spent time pastorally with as many parishioners and groups as possible, as well as sorting out some of my computer and other communication systems, and attending a three day Northern and Western Region Clergy Conference.

In all the busyness I am reminded of St Augustine of Hippo's words: "pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on you." Wise advice that has found its way into the writings of St Benedict, St Ignatius, John Henry Newman and John Wesley to name but a few. This was particularly manifest for me last week, when I went into the church to turn off the alarm that had been inadvertently set off by a couple visiting from Switzerland. I had a mountain of work to do back in the office, but I decided to stop and pray for a moment in the beautiful Handfield Chapel. On the way out I met a visitor to our church who had come in off the street to pray; she lives nearby. We struck up a conversation and it turns out that she is an Old Geelong Grammarian, and both her sons had been to Timbertop but did not get confirmed there. "Is there any chance that you could arrange for them to be confirmed?" she asked. "Is there salt in the sea?" I replied. On saying goodbye I noted how fortuitous it was that the alarm went off. "That was God," she said. How right she is.

After an intense fortnight of conversations, and listening as deeply as I can, there are two major ministry needs that are clearly starting to emerge: pastoral care and outreach. I sense that these are two core ministry directions that we need to give particular focus to in the coming months and years. The third area of ministry that will take up a significant portion of my energies, we already do exceptionally well: liturgy. This being said, I am sure that there are adjustments and improvements that we can put into practice in this area of ministry also.

I will continue my process of meeting with individuals and groups and listening deeply, but I think we also need to start making things happen in these key areas of parish life. So, after an excellent discussion with Vestry, we are proposing the following action points:

1) Pastoral Care
  • To set up a series of meetings around the parish "meet the vicar on your turf". The venues and times of these meetings will be advertised in the next week or two.
  • To broaden and build our pastoral visiting team of clergy and laity.
2) Outreach
  • Through the St Peter's Charitable Foundation to employ a Chaplain to the Lazarus Centre.
  • To develop a Positive Faith course, aimed at young people living and working in the City.
3 )Liturgy
  • To undertake a review of our Easter services. Adam Blackmore and Fr Tom are both kindly compiling review documents. Other input is most welcome for the review committee to consider.

Finally, I have some sad news. Our Parish Administrator, Warren Collins, has offered me his resignation. For almost 8 years Warren has done a terrific job of running the Parish Office, but he has decided to now hand the baton onto a new person. We will be thanking Warren properly in due course, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank him and wish him well for the future. The good thing about Warren being a parishioner is that we will still see lots of him, but I will miss his warmth and friendliness in the office each day very much.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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