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Vicar's Musings for Easter 5

28 April, 2013

This week's musings are taken from my report to the April Vestry meeting. The Vestry minutes will also be summarized in the next week or two and published in the pew sheet — reinstituting the "Vestry Versicles" — and we will also reinstitute a monthly Vestry verbal report after the 9.30am service in the next week or two.

This month I celebrated the first anniversary of my induction as Vicar of St Peter's Eastern Hill. It has been a year of ups and downs as we have embarked on a parish process of listening and strategic planning, started to implement some changes, and experienced both the pains and joys that change inevitably brings. At next month's Vestry I would like us to conduct a six-month review of the Mission Action Plan that was passed by the parish at the 2012 AGM, and as a precursor to that I have been looking through our strategic document at all the new initiatives we have undertaken as a parish. It is really quite encouraging:

  • 2012 lecture series on the Medieval Mystics
  • Weekly meditation and reading group: Mystics Anonymous
  • Revival of Parish Retreat programme
  • Appointment of Lazarus Centre Chaplain (now on a renewed 12 month contract)
  • Appointment of Assistant Curate with focus on ministry to families with younger children and youth
  • Appointment of Incorporation Coordinator
  • Re-establishment of Welcome Committee
  • Re-establishment of Catering Committee
  • Growth of Pastoral Care team (parish and hospital visiting)
  • Re-establishment of regular meals on weekday High Mass days
  • Numerical growth in 9.30am Family Mass attendance
  • Launch of St Peter's Playgroup outreach programme, with aim of connecting with families living in and near the CBD
  • Establishment of Communications Committee
  • Establishment of regular Lay Staff and Pastoral Care meetings
  • Increased income from parish hall, while retaining parish usage, through relationship with Hot Dish catering
  • Re-establishment of Chaplaincy to Parliament

All this has been achieved while maintaining the more established parish ministry programmes such as the Institute of Spiritual Studies, Trinity Certificate and Icon School; not to mention maintaining the high standard of regular Sunday worship and on the festivals such as Christmas, Easter and other red-letter days. These activities and ministries can only take place because of the sustained efforts of a fantastic team of people: lay and ordained, men and women, paid staff and volunteers, office holders and new members. Thanks to everyone for your efforts.

We still have a long way to go, of course, but as we enter the season of autumn I think it is a good time to take stock, celebrate our successes, learn from our mistakes and reassess our planning for the future. I am delighted that our Treasurer has already started the budgeting process for 2013/14 and I would strongly encourage a mission imperative in our planned spending as a parish. That is why I would like us to revisit the Mission Action Plan next month, as a foundation to our financial decision-making. The 11am High Mass, to name but one concern, is a cornerstone of our identity as Melbourne's leading Anglo-Catholic parish. How are we going to grow the numbers attending that service? Can we find money in next year's budget to put on a regular orchestral mass for example? One parishioner went to visit St James', King Street in Sydney, during their orchestral mass summer series and couldn't get a seat the church was so full. Another idea is to create a sound-proofed children's corner at the back of the church. It will be quite expensive, but would enable people with children to attend all our services. Are we prepared to make such investments in the growth of the parish? How committed are we as a Vestry and as a parish to Catholic evangelism? Could we organize a conference next year, and bring out one of the world's leading Catholic evangelists from England as a key-note speaker? It will cost money, certainly, but what an investment that would be in the future of our parish and the other Catholic parishes in Melbourne. Dare I say, budgeting decisions are a pretty good indicator of priorities; even of God's work among us. Watch this space!

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster



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