Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Beginnings

A move to... The Long View 

I am now blogging at The Long View and invite you to visit, and visit often. As you will see in previous posts I am no longer in Pretoria but have moved together with my good wife, Dawn, to Cape Town at the end of October 2013. I am now Rector of St Andrew's Church, Newlands, in the Diocese of Cape Town.

Blessings 
Mark

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

October 2013 - Farewell

Dear Friends

Farewell


The opening words from the song “So Long, Farewell” in the Musical Sound of Music fit my mood as I write to you this morning:

There's a sad sort of clanging/From the clock in the hall/And the bells in the steeple, too

I have always hated saying goodbye. I remember as a ten-year old visiting my Grand-parents for a few weeks at Christmas and tearing up, not wanting to leave, that heavy feeling in my insides. I feel it again as I say goodbye to you all, to Corpus Christi, to the Archdeaconry and Diocese. It is a sign, I think, of having been happy in this space.

As Dawn said at our Farewell on Sunday, my time at Corpus Christi has been a space of growth on many levels for me, and this is true both at Parish and Diocesan level. I leave feeling I have gained far more than I have given, with thankfulness for all of you. And I will remember you, our diversity and ability to embrace each other, as I begin the next chapter.

While there is sadness, there is also the expectant joy of new beginnings, a different adventure, a new hope. Dawn and I look forward to building a new sense of togetherness in our new home and Parish as we begin a new Chapter that marks that transition into the second-half of life. We have become aware over the last while that with adult children we need to identify new priorities for our relationship and for ourselves, and we look forward to Cape Town as a space in which we will be able to explore and build in new directions.

I have also been aware over the last while, that while the Churchwardens and Council have continued to affirm my ministry at Corpus Christi, that it is also time for you to transition into a new space. It has been exciting to see how we have embraced the mission and vision identified during 2012, and in many ways that is my parting gift to you. Our mission and vision reflect the growth that has taken place in our midst over the last almost nine years, and gives impetus to being a community that impacts on the greater breadth of our involvement in the world for God.

As Corpus Christi enters in to what will hopefully be a brief interregnum, I pray you will hold fast to the promises of Philippians 4:4-9 (NRSV), that says:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Thank you from Dawn and myself for our wonderful Farewell last Sunday. It was truly a blessing to be reminded of our glorious diversity as we celebrated our heritage together! Thank you for all the wonderful gifts that will remind us of you all in the future.  And if you find yourselves in Cape Town, please give us a call as it will be wonderful to catch-up.

Blessings

Mark

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

September 2013 - Journeying

Dear Friends

Journeying


After this morning’s Eucharist Carol said, “Life is all about Hello’s and Good-bye’s! I suspect it was in response to my comment on today’s Gospel reading where Jesus says he must preach the Good News in other towns as well (Luke 4:43), and I mentioned that there is a nice little village called Newlands … . I have enjoyed saying Hello for the last almost nine years, and am not particularly enjoying saying Good-Bye, and there always seems to be somebody else still to tell that we are leaving. I said to someone that I’d love to just magically find us in Cape Town, with the house sold, our belongings moved, and our new adventure in full swing! But life is not magical in that sense and the journey of transition is an important one, both for Dawn and I, but also for everyone at Corpus Christi. Change in this context is important, and reminds me of the parable of the fig-tree that hadn’t born fruit for at least three years: the gardener knew that if he stirred its roots a little and fertilised it well there was potential for new growth. Our roots are being stirred, and God is preparing us all for new growth.

The liminal space of transition is never an easy space. As we stand on the threshold of the future we are aware of the past that lies behind us. We need to bid that past farewell while acknowledging that it has shaped us, for good or bad, and that we have been formed in its womb. While we bid the past farewell it travels with us in memory, in outlook, in experience, in wisdom. As we look ahead, as we prepare to embrace the future, in the words of Maria Harris in Jubilee Time, “we are being lured to open the doors of our hearts and the gates of our spirits.” Transition is a mix of emotion: grief for what we leave behind, uncertainty in the moments of change, and excitement for the future. It is ultimately, though, a challenge to be open, to seek renewal, to find fresh hope.

Dawn and I plan to journey well. We pray that your journey will be a good one, too, and that you also journey well. Take heart from Jeremiah 29:11-14 (ESV), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes …”

Need


We are selling our home in Lancelot Road (Garsfontein), and if you are aware of anyone looking for a house please get them to make contact. We are also looking for accommodation for our daughter, Cassie, who wishes to remain in Pretoria. She is very easy going and generally undemanding, and doesn’t need much. She is presently apprenticed as a Tattoo Artist in Hatfield, and is waitering in Hatfield Square to make some money. If you are aware of or can offer cheap but safe accommodation we would love to hear from you!

Blessings


Mark

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 2012 - Change is in the Air

Dear Friends

Change is in the Air


As you will likely have heard by now, either through the Churchwardens’ communication or the grapevine, Dawn and I are moving to Cape Town where I will take up the position of Rector of St Andrew’s in Newlands from 1 November 2013. We are both excited about the opportunities that lie before us as we step into a new phase of life and relationship. Our new home, on the Church property, looks onto the mountain and is bounded by a stream flowing from the Newlands Ravine into the Liesbeek River. We are looking forward to regular walks on the beach and through the forests, a new community and fresh challenges.

It is always difficult to leave, no matter how exciting the future may be. Pretoria has been home for both Dawn and I in different ways over a substantial part of our lives; our time at Corpus Christi has seen our children grow up, and while Nathan has flown the nest a few times over the last eight and a half years and most recently landed in Durban, Cassie will be pushed out and required to fly for the first time as she wishes to remain in Pretoria. It is with a mix of emotions that we move on.

I often wonder about the legacy I will leave. As a Christian Community we have grown together and transformed together over these last eight-plus years. I am very aware that Dawn and I step out of a community very different to the community we entered in 2005. There have been physical changes to the property from a major upgrading of the car-park to the extension of the Church, and more recently the reupholstering of the pews and some major repair and maintenance activity which has seen the Church and Hall repainted. More importantly, the transformation of our community has been marked as we’ve sought to adapt to the changing demographics of eastern Pretoria. I have enjoyed watching our Parish community become increasingly cosmopolitan, and the leadership structures adapt accordingly. I hope that my time in your midst has laid strong enough foundations that this cosmopolitan nature of what we have become will strengthen in the future, and that people – no matter their culture or class – will continue to find a Christian home at Corpus Christi.

I really do encourage you all to trust God and each other fully as you move into a time of interregnum during which you will prayerfully seek God for a new Rector to lead Corpus Christi into its next phase of growth and development. The Churchwardens will be meeting with the Bishop in the near future to begin this process, one which is about finding the right person who will not only be good for Corpus Christi, but will also fit the ethos of the Diocese. Don’t despair when the process seems to be taking time, but know and trust that God will provide.

Remind yourselves constantly of our mission to be role-models and risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship; and of our vision to be passionate disciples for Christ as we seek to live our Faith in daily life!

Blessings

     Mark

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 2013 - Living our Mission

Dear Friends

Living our Mission


A few nights ago I was invited to dinner with a family who have joined the Parish recently. It was a wonderful evening in which I was immersed in the challenges of their working lives as they shared stories of their experiences in tertiary education and the criminal justice system. The essence of much of our conversation revolved around the challenges of living good lives in the workspace, questioning nonsensical decisions, calling others to lives of excellence. We also touched on the exhaustion that comes from doing a job well, and the increasing expectations that this generates.

This family has recently felt the need to realign their lives with the Church, but their lives have not lacked Faith, and the goodness of God has been operating in them and through them. This realignment reflects a choice to become more conscious of God’s presence and call, and a decision to actively seek God’s strength and help in living their already value-centred lives.

As I reflect on our dinner together, enhanced by other friends – also Parishioners – I am struck by the importance of our mission at Corpus Christi: to be role models and responsible risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship. Our mission reflects the Benedictine call to find balance, to ensure that our lives are not over-burdened in any direction, that there is space for prayer, study, work, recreation and relaxation. We need – I need – to stop on occasion and reflect that if we are role models for Christ, what are we modelling? I will never forget the comment of one of our younger Parishioners who worked on a Sunday in the bookshop of a local mega-church: she was consistently amazed at how members of that community would come directly from worship into the bookshop and treat her and other staff with irritation and impatience. I often wonder how the cashiers at Woolworths in Serene Street experience Anglicans on a Sunday after our services of worship? I must admit to being a little nervous to ask …

We live in a consumerist culture where work is often the dominating feature of our lives. How does one begin to find life-balance when traffic and work consume so much of our time? And work always demands that extra bit of flesh from our lives? I am aware that for many at Corpus Christi Monday to Friday is dominated by work and traffic, and there is little meaningful time available for family interaction and community involvement. Weekends are dominated by those things previous generations fitted into their week, which smaller, more rural communities still do. I am hugely appreciative of many who commit to Sunday mornings being Church-focused, willing to spend time in worship and fellowship with fellow participators in the family of God. I am understanding, too, of those whose hobbies and sport draw them away on a regular basis. Interestingly, in a recent study in the USA, regular Church attendance is defined as being present in worship on a monthly basis; a generation ago it was weekly.

Living our mission cannot be something we do separate from the rest of our lives. It needs to be an intrinsic part of the fullness of life, where we live, work and worship: traffic, work, home, family, friendship, gym, church and community. The family I had dinner with may not be aware that they are living out our mission, but as I listened and interacted I heard much about God’s presence in their lives, and while work was a dominating feature of the conversation and the “spiritual” discussion took place as I climbed into my car to leave, I am in no doubt that they model their Faith in what they do, and I am thankful that God’s Spirit is drawing them into a greater consciousness of his place in their lives.

Blessings

Mark

Thursday, June 06, 2013

June 2013 - Corpus Christi: being "us"

Dear Friends

Corpus Christi: being “us”


The Feast of Corpus Christi fell on 30 May 2013 and marked our 32nd Birthday as a Parish! We celebrated as a community on Sunday 2 June, with a Family Service and a traditional “English Breakfast”. The children were particularly interactive during the sermon as we explored aspects of party, being family and Jesus feeding of the 5,000 (which we could easily have done during the breakfast!). We explored how, as Christ’s Body, we are taken by God, consecrated with thanksgiving, broken, and given to the world to be about the business of God. There were even a few instant Latin Scholars in our children’s midst who helped us work out that “Corpus Christi” means “Body of Christ”!

What are the implications of being taken, consecrated, broken and given? For that is what happens to the body of Christ, and as a community we carry that name. What does it say about who we are, our purpose and our vision?

We have agreed that our mission is to be role-models and responsible risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship; and we now remind ourselves of this each time we gather for worship as we say the Declaration together. We are consecrated, strengthened by God to be about our mission. Being role-models opens us up to criticism and being risk-takers opens us to ridicule and often leads to our breaking as we seek to be available to God and his purposes in the world, where we live and work. We gather in worship to ask God’s forgiveness for the moments we have failed to be good role-models, where we have been too scared to take risks for God. We gather to find God’s healing, to be renewed that we may live our purpose and bring reality to our vision.

At the end of our worship together we are given, we are sent. We are sent to live our vision and bring it to reality. We affirm that we are passionate disciples of Christ – committed, willing, disciplined, equipped – living our Faith in daily life. It is in gathering together that we affirm our commitment, our willingness to be available to God and to the purposes of God’s Kingdom. It is in immersing ourselves in the Word of God that we hear our purpose affirmed, and in prayer we look forward to actioning our vision. It is where we explore what it is to be disciplined. It is where we are equipped.

As we leave our time of worship together we state that we are equipped for the challenges that lie before us as we go out to live our Faith in daily life. We have been equipped in that we have gathered and shared in hearing God’s Word, we have reminded each other that God’s peace is a gift to undergird our lives. We have been equipped in that we have received the body of Christ, the blood of Christ: the body of Christ to sustain us, the blood of Christ to protect us. But we may need to be equipped in other ways?

What are the Faith-challenges that you face in your home, at work, with friends? How can we as Parish, your place of Worship, your Christian community, help equip you to meet these challenges more fully and more effectively?

Blessings

Mark

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

May 2013 - A Discontinuous Gospel


Dear Friends

Easter Season


Amazingly, as I write, we are almost at the end of the Easter Season, with Pentecost just three Sundays away! I have enjoyed celebrating this season with the new focus the Revised Common Lectionary gives us (the Anglican Church of Southern Africa moved from the Common Lectionary to the Revised Common Lectionary in Advent last year), as the readings are more thematic and focused. There is also a substantial amount of good commentary available online, which proves invaluable when one needs an idea or two to kick-start one’s sermon preparation!

Today’s Morning Prayer readings touch on “re-membering” (Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-25), “renewal” (Romans 12:1-12), and I came across this lovely prayer from the Church of England’s Common Worship: Daily Prayer in relation to Psalm 106:

“Holy God, when our memories blot out your kindness and we ignore your patient love, remember us, re-make us, and give to us poor sinners the rich inheritance of Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 It strikes me that re-membering and being re-made is what the Season of Easter is all about. We are reminded of the incredible act of God visible in Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection to new life; the Season of Easter helps us to explore the implications of this for us in our time and context. I have preached in the last few weeks on revolutionary resurrection, hope beyond miracle and inclusive love (these can be listened to or downloaded from http://www.4shared.com/folder/Oj-giFNO/2013_Sermons.html ). Romans 12:2 NRSV encourages us to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” What is the will of God in terms of death and resurrection? We may think that we know the answers as we have walked this same seasonal journey over many years, even decades; but what are the implications for today? We live in a very different world from the last century in whose thinking and understanding many of us were formed. We are entrusted with a Gospel that requires us to be transformed, not just spiritually, but to the realities of the world in which we now find ourselves, a 21st century world that is discontinuous from the last, a space where what made sense no longer is sensible, and where sacrifice and sin are outdated concepts carrying little meaning for many.

We are entrusted to make the Gospel known to this generation, in this century, in this space.

What is “this space”? It is multi-dimensional, multi-Faith, and technologically super-innovative. What are the challenges and implications of Scripture for us in this environment? For example, Jesus’ commandment to love as he has loved us after washing the feet of the Twelve, a group Jesus knew included one who would betray him, another that would deny him that very night? Washing their feet, and then sharing sustenance with them; what is more radical than that? How do we live out that type of extreme acceptance of human fallibility in our own relationships? And the cross, where does that fit in? David Lose, of www.workingpreacher.org says, “Jesus did not go to the cross to make God loving, or to satisfy God’s justice, or to take on our punishment.” If the cross is not about Jesus taking on our punishment, what is it about? David goes on to say, “Jesus went to the cross to show in word and deed that God is love and that we, as God’s children, are loved.” In today’s space we need to unpack how crucifixion (one of the most brutal innovations of human torture ever conceived) makes God’s love manifest in our world. Implicit in David’s comment is that Jesus' death was not a sacrifice, but a loving gift given to humanity by a loving God; a gift given under the most horrendous of experiences. I struggle to get my mind around the concept of love that embraces the betrayer, the denier, and the cross. In a world that increasingly places emphasis on the rights of the individual, proclaims happiness as the goal of life, where does such love fit? And how do we proclaim it? And what are the implications of resurrection, of death outmanoeuvred, out-flanked by life beyond our own experience? That is a part of challenge of “this space”.

We need to re-member, re-create, the Gospel message. Tweaking, re-stating the Gospel of a previous generation is insufficient. We require a discontinuous Gospel of hope for the discontinuous world in which we live.

Your thoughts?

Blessings
Mark

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March/April 2013 - Freedom & Hope


Dear Friends

Lent and Easter



Our Lenten Journey draws to an end, and the Easter Celebration is in sight.

 As we began our Lenten journey I shared a thought from Scott Shauf (from the Working Preacher website) for our prayer during this season, that prayer should be seeking the powerful presence of God in our lives. On one level prayer is simply our ongoing conversation with God, but as we know from the variety of relationships that define and form our lives, communication can be complicated and complex. Our Good Friday Service will help us reflect more on the complexity of prayer as we focus on seven forms: petition, confession, adoration, intercession, meditation/contemplation, thanksgiving and consecration. I do hope you will be able to join us for the full three hours.

My preaching over this Lenten season has been impacted by Anthony de Mello’s book, Awareness. Part of the challenge of experiencing the powerful presence of God is awakening to reality, and I have shared something of the discomfort of de Mello’s thinking. His thesis that self-interest remains a defining dynamic in human interaction despite the transformative presence of the Spirit of God in our lives is perhaps the most challenging. Lent certainly impacts on self-interest as we touch on prayer, fasting and alms-giving; in some form each touch on our self-interest and asks us to look to the interests of others as well. As I look at my cupboard I have to ask why it is so hard to pick out the clothes I haven’t worn in over a year and donate them to others who do not have the luxury of overflowing shelves. I’m struck by how bound I am to my possessions. Part of the Lenten challenge is to rediscover our freedom and our hope; it is also for us to become resources of freedom and hope for others.

This brings us to the paradox of the Easter events, that it is only through death that life can be truly and eternally discovered and experienced; and that despite our mortal limitation, we are – as God’s people – already embraced by eternal life. Our Easter Vigil Service seeks to enlighten us as we experience again the brightening hope of the Easter fire; our reflection on humanity’s experience of living in relationship with the Creator God who’s presence is also restorative and life-giving, and is celebrated in the renewal of our Baptismal promises; and as the rising son brightens the dawn, we share together in the Eucharist, in the flesh and blood of Christ, in the hope of resurrection. In walking this journey afresh we are once again renewed: forgiven, healed, restored.

Archdeaconry & Diocesan News


Secondment: our self-supporting assistant, Fr Steve Verryn, has been seconded at the Bishop’s request to the Hennop’s River Archdeaconry where he will be looking after the Parish of St Stephen in Lyttleton for the next few months. Please keep him and the family in your prayers, and I’m sure a phone call won’t go amiss!

Consecration: the Bishop was present with our former Chapelry of St Agnes in Stanza Bopape (Mamelodi) to bless and consecrate their new Church building in Mahube Valley on Sunday 17 March 2013. They have struggled for years to find land, meeting year after year in a classroom that continuously proved too small. The completion of their building has been a wonderful blessing for them.

Cathedral Update: a successful special Vestry was held on 17 March 2013 to elect Churchwardens and Councillors. Those who have read the local rag will have noticed that this did not happen without the normal challenges to the Bishop’s authority. Please continue praying for the normalisation of the situation at the Cathedral, for the Bishop, the Diocesan and Cathedral leadership, and the Cathedral Parish, that the mission and ministry imperatives of the Diocese be restored in that community.

As Lent draws to conclusion, may we all experience a life-giving and restoring Easter!

Easter Blessings

Mark

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Rector's Report to Annual Vestry - 27 January 2013


Introduction

As I look back over 2012 I am aware of January and I am aware of December. Quite what happened to February through November is a mystery, and I can honestly describe 2012 as the quickest journey of my life. I am hoping 2013 will happen more slowly, and that I can savour life more fully.

Today is an opportunity for us as a Parish to look back and to look forward. Many of the reports to be received in our meeting later today will look back over the breadth of our parish activity, and will doubtless remind us of those seemingly missing months. One of the key responsibilities of this report is to reflect not on the detail, but on our purpose, and on how we are living it out in the breadth of our lives.

Parish

We have spoken over the last two and a half years at Council level of the importance of renewing our vision. This conversation has grown out of an increasing awareness that we have moved to a new place as a Christian family at Corpus Christi, and we need to reflect on our future: on who God is calling us to be, where God is calling us to go, and what God is calling us to do. The vision and sense of purpose that has driven us since 2006 has seen us through a journey of transition, and has melded us in a new way. The journey has been marked with moments of great joy and moments of great pain. The journey is not over, it will continue, but with a renewed sense of purpose, a renewed vision, and with new priorities.

The late Anthony de Mello, a Roman Catholic writer, in his book One Minute Wisdom tells the story of Arrival:

“Is the path to Enlightenment difficult or easy?”
“It is neither.”
“Why not?”
“Because it isn’t there.”
“Then how does one travel to the goal?”
“One doesn’t. This is a journey without distance. Stop travelling and you arrive.”

I share this story as I suspect that at some point in the last three or so years we discovered this truth for ourselves. And I hope we will hold on to it as we explore our future.

As you are aware we have been asked to explore the present Diocesan Theme – Renewed and empowered by baptism to be “Servants of Christ and Stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1) – at Parish level, using it as a platform to explore and renew our own sense of purpose and vision. This process began for us in August with a Parish Workshop where we explored the Theme and reflected on what this means for us here at Corpus Christi. The conclusions of this workshop were shared via the monthly magazine and opportunity given over a couple of months for comment. This process has culminated in a new mission statement, vision statement, and a statement of priorities that I am proposing on behalf of Parish Council to Annual Vestry today for adoption. We are attempting to keep these statements brief for two reasons: firstly, so that we will easily call them to mind; and secondly, so that there is room for a breadth of interpretation as we seek to implement them in the diversity of Parish life and activity. You will notice that since my last communication concerning this process we have added two more priorities, drawn from the results of our August Workshop. The statements Parish Council is proposing we adopt are as follows:

Our Purpose
Our mission is to be role-models and responsible risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship.

Our vision
We are passionate disciples of Christ – committed, willing, disciplined, equipped – living our Faith in daily life.

Our Priorities
Inclusive participation in our shared vision and mission
Strong internal community relationships affirming diversity
Family and Youth development
Outreach to less advantaged communities
Explore the potential of a new Anglican community in South East
Faithful stewards of our resources
Active in Social Media
Effective leadership and management

Scripture
“… make disciples of all nations, … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

As a Christian community our purpose (or mission) is to be found in Scripture, and as we reflect on the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – we see God’s people called to be role-models to the world; we see the influence of God’s purposes expanded in that same world when individuals and communities take risks; and we see that the influence of God’s people is diverse, encompassing the communities in which they live, work and worship. We have chosen to hold onto the passage of Scripture from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, but have chosen to highlight a different aspect of it. This passage is the link between our past, our present and our future, and has underwritten Parish life over many years.

Our vision seeks to reflect on the nature of our context, and on who we wish to be in that context. Our context at Corpus Christi is complex: most of us live in the wider geographic area; many of us work in diverse contexts, locally, nationally and internationally; we choose to worship here. Our challenge is to live out our Faith in this multifaceted context, within the breadth that our individual and community lives encompass. There is much food for reflection in this brief statement, words that point to the hidden depths of Christian commitment, and to what it truly is to be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

Our priorities are linked to our core practices of worship, care and fellowship, education and discipleship, service, and witness. Our core practices are the primary ways in which we carry out our purpose (mission) through organised activity designed to help us embrace our vision. The Parish Council portfolio structure has been reorganised for 2013 around these core practises, with the addition of resources, communication and administration. Each portfolio is to be staffed by two members of Council, who will carry responsibility for one or more of what we have traditionally called “The Arms of the Parish” that reflect the responsibilities and functions of Parish Council outlined in our Diocesan Rules. Each portfolio is responsible for one of the areas of priority, thus making Parish Council truly accountable for the implementation of our mission and vision. The new portfolio structure and the Arms of the Parish will be published in the February Parish Magazine, and I ask that you help keep Parish Council accountable by participating in these structures.

This is an exciting vision for our Parish as we move into the future. Please embrace it.

One other important proposal I need to make on behalf of our Parish Council is that Annual Vestry consider the appointment of a Youth Worker for the Parish. In reviewing the effectiveness of our ministry to young people over the last few years we are hugely thankful for the talented ministry of people like Kerry MacGregor, Sandra Verryn, and Thando Ntshebe, who have kept our ad hoc youth group functioning, and for the on-going ministry of Wonder Muthana and Mmathabo Aphane in giving leadership to our Teen Church. However, there can be no doubt when looking at Churches both within the Anglican fold and ecumenically that a fully-time person empowers growth. This person would not replace our volunteers, but complement and facilitate this ministry, with a focus on young adults and teenagers. This position is not catered for in our 2013 budget, but a portion of our funds held in deposit with the Diocese could be used in conjunction with additional commitments from Parishioners.

Archdeaconry, Diocese and Province

At Diocesan level the on-going impasse between the Diocesan Leadership and the Cathedral community, both around the Dean’s Tribunal and subsequent to his untimely death, has dominated the Diocesan horizon. It has been frustrating and energy-sapping on many levels. We failed in 2012 to find a compassionate solution to the situation, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel as a process of mediation has begun. Thank you for your constant prayers for the situation, and please don’t stop!

In July I stepped down as acting Archdeacon of Madibeng, having completed a two-year process of restructuring ministry and mission priorities in the area. Bishop Jo has appointed an Archdeacon from within the area, the now Venerable Madi Moshime. My time as acting Archdeacon was fulfilling, and I believe I have been able to leave a meaningful legacy. Thank you for your support and understanding as my Archdeaconry responsibilities often had me out and about, and therefore unavailable to you for substantial periods of time.

There has been considerable forward movement in exploring the possibilities of forming a new Diocese based around Rustenburg, incorporating most of the present Archdeaconries of Rustenburg and Madibeng. There is still much work to be done before a decision on sustainability can be made, but the people of the area are clearly on board with the process. Bishop Jo has requested that each Parish in the Diocese commit 1% of our annual Budget to supporting the on-going development of the region, which Parish Council is happy we do. It needs to be a decision of Annual Vestry, and Council proposes this amount be paid out of accumulated funds held in deposit with the Diocese.

At Provincial level the first two women Bishops have been elected, consecrated and installed in the Dioceses of Swaziland and False Bay. At the Provincial Synod in 2010 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated that one of his key hopes for his Archiepiscopacy was that this should happen! This is a significant step for the Anglican Church in the Global South and for the Church in Africa as a whole.

Society and Nation Building

Most of 2012 focused on the leadership race and run-up to the ANC Conference in Mangaung. I have some hope that the newly elected ANC leadership will be more focused on leading the country and less focused on internal squabbles and power-mongering, but only time will tell. Marikana and protests in the Western Cape, and now Sasolburg, are not encouraging signs of a working democracy, nor is the falling Rand.

We need to persevere as South Africans, and as members of Corpus Christi allow our Christian commitment to strengthen our resolve to serve our country to the best and fullest of our ability, whether it be in government, business or the social sector. Our proposed new mission and vision call us to this commitment.

Personal

2012 was a difficult year for both Dawn and I and we enter into 2013 uncertain as to what the future holds for us. However, 2012 was not without its highlights, chief among them being the birth of our first grandchild, Rebecca-Lee. She is eight months old already, and is now crawling with her grandfather’s proficiency. She is a happy child who smiles easily and wonderfully!

My involvement in the Dean’s Tribunal and subsequently as a member of the Diocesan Executive (before I stood down as acting Archdeacon in July) in the on-going saga with the Cathedral impacted heavily on me spiritually and emotionally, and I have realised that defending an institution is neither a glorious affair nor what I believe the focus of my life should be. Our more recent Parish focus on re-exploring our purpose and vision has been life-giving and restorative.

Dawn’s job has made huge time and travel demands on her and has not given her the fulfilment we had hoped it would when she started with her new employers in 2011. The fit has not been good.

The last year has made us both aware that work is not all there is to life, and as we explore that “empty-nest” space and reflect on our common goals for our marriage and our life together there are no easy answers. We find ourselves in that mid-life space – often referred to as “crisis” – seeking to identify what is important for us, both as a couple and as individuals, as we face life’s “second half”.

Thank you for your continuing interest in our lives, for your support and care.

Conclusion

There is a lot to give thanks for as we will hear in the reports to be received during the meeting. The Parish continues to grow: numerically, financially, relationally and spiritually. Thank you to each and every one who contributed to this growth during 2012! My special thanks to Dawn who has continued to support my ministry despite the challenges of life and Faith; to Cheryl Rogers, our Parish Administrator, who goes more than the extra mile and beyond the call of duty, holds us all to high standards, and is tireless and constant in her commitment to the smooth functioning of Parish life; to our assistant priest, Steve Verryn, for his support and friendship, and our congratulations to him on his Priesting in February 2012; also to Fr Danny and Fr Julian for their support and help, especially while I was acting Archdeacon of Madibeng. Thanks to the 2012 Churchwardens and Council for their leadership and guidance and personal support; to our Layministers for the worship support and pastoral care they have provided; to those who have carried specific responsibility for key aspects of parish life from Sacristy to Children’s ministry and everything in-between. 

When one asks what people find special about this Parish the answer is generally “Family”, but actually I suspect it is a willingness to be a contributing part of the team. 

Thank you! 2013 awaits us …

MARK R D LONG
Rector

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 2012 - Proposed Mission & Vision


Dear Friends

As you are aware, we have been exploring our mission and vision in the light of the Diocesan theme: renewed and empowered through baptism to be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). In the November Magazine I proposed some wording for these statements, asking for further input. After discussion at both the Parish Council and Ministry Team meetings in November a few changes were made, and we will be presenting the following for formal acceptance at our Annual Vestry meeting at the end of January 2013:

Vision

Our vision: we are passionate disciples of Christ – committed, willing, disciplined, equipped – living our Faith in daily life.

Mission

Our mission is to be role-models and responsible risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship.

Priorities

  • Inclusive participation in our shared vision and mission
  • Family and Youth development
  • Active in Social Media
  • Outreach to less advantaged communities
  • Faithful stewards of our resources
  • Explore the potential of a new Anglican community to the South East

Scripture

“… make disciples of all nations, … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

We will obviously reflect further in the New Year as to the full implications of the above, but as we prepare for Annual Vestry we ask that you put these statements to prayer, and particularly in terms of our vision reflect on whether it is sufficiently challenging, futuristic and achievable for us as a Parish over the next three to five years. And most importantly, do these statements reflect God’s call on our lives at this time?

       Blessings
                  Mark

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

November 2012 - We are Disciples


Dear Friends

A Renewed Vision

I am pleased to announce that the vacuum is not total: there is some air! I have had two wonderful and thoughtful responses since last writing to you. Two members of Parish Council – re-elected for 2013 – have responded in the midst of their busy lives, affirming the input from our August workshop and highlighting aspects that we need to consider in formulating a new set of vision and mission statements that will both drive us and pull us as we seek to be Renewed and empowered by Baptism to be “Servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).

The challenge of good vision and mission statements is for them to be succinct, easy to remember, implementable, and challenging. And yet they also need to say everything that needs to be said! We need to use words that point us to a reality beyond themselves and remind us of the volume of ideas we wish to capture. As a way forward I wish to suggest the following for consideration:

Vision:

We are disciples of Christ – committed, disciplined, willing, qualified – living
out our Faith in daily life.

Mission:

We are role-models and risk-takers for Christ where we live, work and worship.

Priorities:

        ·         Inclusive participation in our shared vision and mission
        ·         Family and Youth development
        ·         Active in Social Media
        ·         Outreach to less advantaged communities
        ·         Faithful stewards of our resources
        ·         Plant a new Anglican community in South East

Scripture:

“You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”
(Matthew 5:14a; The Message)

Please reflect on the above and give comment. You may wish to refer back to the insights from the August workshop, and you can find this at http://bit.ly/Rqg0aY or if you need a hard copy, then my article in the September Parish Magazine. This will be discussed and further revised at our Parish Council meeting on 14 November 2012. A final version will be presented to our Annual Vestry meeting in January 2013, and if accepted, will become the instrument that helps us review our core practices and direct our ministry as a Parish.

Holiday

I will be taking three weeks leave from 19 November through to 10 December 2012. Dawn and I need to catch up with ourselves and with each other. In today’s world one tends to take a few days here and there, rarely enough to fully disengage and truly recreate. We are hoping to spend some time at a friend’s home on the Eastern Cape coast, ending in Cape Town for Dawn’s year-end function.

Fr Danny’s sermon this last Sunday made me realize that the noise of my “street” has dimmed my awareness of God, and that I need to find the space to reflect on how I desire to answer Jesus when I hear that profound question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus’ reply, “… let me see again” (Mark 10:51; NRSV) struck a chord for me. The last eighteen months have been energy-sapping on a number of levels. It is good to be busy, but easy to allow the noise of busyness to drown out the gentle whispering of God’s Spirit, and so I look forward to giving God the space to talk quietly to my heart.

                Blessings
                                Mark

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

October 2012 - Spectator or Participant?


Dear Friends

Vision in a Vacuum


I reported in detail last month on the progress made in reviewing our vision and mission for the Parish, specifically what had come out of our Parish meeting in mid-August. I have since wondered if we did actually print it, such has been the underwhelming response! I expressed my concern to Parish Council, and I reiterate it here, that this process of review should not be the Rectors’ vision and mission for the Parish, but ours as a collective. What are your thoughts on what I shared last month? Does what the August meeting came up with excite you? Demotivate you? Surprise you? Give you hope? Do you think the ideas shared touch on important issues or miss them? Do you see your experience of Corpus Christi, and your hopes for the Parish, reflected in what was discussed? Have we missed anything? Please, fill the vacuum!!

Leadership

October is leadership month, and as you will see in the Diary section we will be holding elections for Churchwardens and Parish Councillors towards the end of the month. Having spent September focusing on Stewardship, we now have an opportunity to be good stewards of the gifts of Leadership. Standing for Churchwarden or Parish Councillor is an act of stewardship, a giving of our time and skills, a utilisation of these resources. All confirmed members of the parish are eligible. Please be prayerful and take time to encourage people you know and trust to stand for election.

What are we about?

Within the broad context of reviewing our vision and mission, our September focus on Stewardship, and our need to elect new Parish leadership for 2013 this month, along with the Synod of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee meetings that took place last week, the upcoming Anglicans Ablaze Conference that will focus on exploring the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s vision, mission and priority statements adopted in 2010, along with my own search for meaning and relevance, I am conscious of asking the question, “What is it that we are about?” … as Christians, as Anglicans, as South Africans, as Africans?

I spent some time today reading an address by Trevor Manuel, then Minister of Finance, to the Anglican Synod of Bishops in August 2004. In it he reflects on the need both in our wider society and within Government for the Church as an ecumenical movement to provide leadership, not by basking in the golden decade (1984-1985) when the Church was bold and articulate, and fully committed to bringing about democracy, but by embracing a sustaining and durable theology of reconstruction and development based on the premise of involvement and not spectatorship.

What are we about as Church? Manuel’s perspective back in 2004 was of the wider Church, largely uninvolved in the needs of society, occasionally attempting to broad-side government with accusations of failure from a spectator’s vantage point. I am wondering, reading this document in 2012, where the Church stands today on these issues? Do we continue to see responsibility for reconstruction and development as the preserve of Government, or are we acknowledging that we have a role to play, and are we playing it? Recent events at Marikana demonstrate that employers, Trade Unions, Government have lost the trust of the working class, and that they are even suspicious of the Church. Why is this? Is it, perhaps, because the wider Church has somehow lost its ability to be present to society? Manuel’s interpretation is that there is a powerful element – the Church Pty Ltd – in the wider Church environment that implores us to forget the concrete or contextual nature of incarnation, that leads us away from discovering our cause, our raison d'ĂȘtre, in serving the nations of Southern Africa, and the new South Africa in particular. In offering an alternative, Manuel identifies five pillars that, for him, needs define a Church with a cause. We need a Church that is aware of itself in the following ways:

  • A Church aware of what defines it – traditionally that of healer, intermediator, discoverer and uniter;
  •  A Church exploring its role as Convenor of itself and its congregation – re-motivating ourselves in order to lift the burden from the poor;
  •  A Church as keeper of values – building the norms of caring, campaigning against crime and corruption, helping society understand the difference between values and cash cost;
  • A Church as constructor of communities;
  •  A Church as the conscience of Society.


Manuel also quotes Thabo Mbeki, then president of the Republic, speaking to the South African Christian Leaders Assembly in July 2003, “… you bravely and at great cost to many among you, chose a path through the contextual understanding of your mission. Once again, your mission calls for a reappraisal on the basis of the real conditions that face all our people.” It strikes me that Trevor Manuel, a fellow Anglican and senior Government Minister, touched on key issues for us as a Church back in 2004, and that senior Church leadership has responded to these challenges, certainly within our Anglican context: the Provincial social development arm, Hope Africa, was expanded and better resourced; our Diocesan social development arm, Tumelong Mission, has been refocused; Bishops and Clergy throughout the Province have been exposed to social development training through courses run by Hope Africa; a vision, mission and priority statements have been adopted for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. But how is this finding traction at grass-roots level in the wider Church environment? How do we experience a commitment to the reconstruction and development of our society in the more specific context, for example at Corpus Christi? Is our involvement with Louis Botha Homes, Iren Homes, Tumelong Mission, a sufficient commitment in this regard? How many of us actually pitched up and participated in the Environmental Clean-up day a couple of weeks ago?

An additional challenge is how we respond as the Church to the National Development Plan 2030 (see http://bit.ly/RxCSVx)? I have just read the vision statement, a powerful and profound statement of the Nation I believe we all want to be but are not yet, and I suspect, fear we will never be. It is written in the present tense and planted in 2030, and is a call to build our Nation. It proposes a powerful cycle of development approach to change designed to build social cohesion around three important cogs: active citizenry, effective government and strong leadership. I suggest that the Church, in a wider ecumenical context, can be a powerful force in encouraging active citizenry and participating in giving strong leadership. The vision statement begins with the words:

We, the people of South Africa, have journeyed for since the long lines of our first democratic election on 27 April 1994, when we elected a government for us all.

Now in 2030 we live in a country which we have remade.

We are suspicious of Government, often with good reason. But as God’s people we are people of Hope, people of passion, people committed to seeing the purposes of God, the goodness of God triumph in our world. Pre-1994 as Anglicans we sided with the politically poor and oppressed. In today’s world we need to side with the economically poor and oppressed. If we sit back and choose to be the spectator Church, the uninvolved Church, then we allow the Julius Malema’s of the world to set the agenda. As an involved Church we can participate with other committed parties, which include Government, in building up our communities and our Nation. As participants we can have a voice and we can make a difference.

In Conclusion

In the midst of all the above, who are we as Corpus Christi Anglican Church in Garsfontein? What defines us? What is our vision? What is our purpose? And how are we utilising our core practises of worship, care and fellowship, education and discipleship, service and witness to serve God in our world and serve those made in God’s image who populate our lives?

Blessings
Mark

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

September 2012 - Towards a Renewed Vision


Towards a Renewed Vision



A group of around twenty parishioners met on Saturday 18 August 2012 to begin the process towards a new three to five year vision for the Parish.  We began by reflecting on the Diocesan Theme, then on the importance of having a vision and mission, and finally focused in a SWOT analysis on what we would like to preserve from the past and achieve in the future. This process also included looking at what we need to stop doing, and things we’d like to avoid happening. This process is not yet 100% complete as the Youth are doing the same exercise during their Sunday Teen Church time.

So far we have discovered the following:

In terms of the Diocesan Vision, “Renewed and Empowered through Baptism to be “Servants of God and Stewards of the Mysteries of Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:1) we need to BE disciples of Christ and shift from religion to Faith, which implies an increase in our commitment, discipline and willingness to follow Christ in living out and exercising our Faith. We need to be equipped and willing to equip others as we seek to be qualified Ambassadors for God. We need to GO and live our Faith in our everyday lives amongst whoever we meet, and our words and actions need to identify us as disciples and point to Christ. We need to seek spiritual growth so that we can reach out both into the Parish and into the community, acknowledging that we are “sent” Sunday by Sunday to wherever there is need and opportunity. What we are called to DO is make disciples through being role-models, willing to take risks and to stand up and be counted. We need to serve and represent Christ by being salt (preserve, clean, flavour), light (guide, dispel darkness) and yeast (transform, bring to fullness) as we seek to build dedicated, committed and sustainable discipleship. We need to be a community of committed, caring disciples who offer ourselves to participate in growing a community of disciples that is sustaining and sustainable.

In terms of the SWOT analysis we wish to PRESERVE our leadership and management structures, continue to cherish our diversity, our particular Anglican traditions including the variety of worship opportunities offered (i.e. the quieter 7am Eucharist, and the more noisy 9am Eucharist). Also the family ethos of the Parish, our Sunday School, Teen Church, Confirmation and other programmes. We also wish to continue caring for our facilities (buildings and garden). We wish to ACHIEVE a wide participation in a shared vision for the Parish. This includes a renewed focus on education through workshops and relevant courses (e.g. Lent),   the retention of youth (beyond Confirmation/Matric) by utilising focused Youth programmes (there are a number developed beyond the Church), a strong sense of community across age-groups and building relationships through fellowship (encourage wider participation and involvement), exploiting Social Media as a method of communication and marketing. We also wish to find better ways to utilise our space, and look to plant a new congregation to our South-East. There are things we need to ELIMINATE such as ignorance of our vision and what it is to be Christian and Anglican, a lack of involvement, complacency and apathy among the members, including the disrespect and lack of courtesy shown by those who arrive late for services and functions, also a desire to be comfortable and not take risks. We wish to AVOID such things as radical change, destructive confrontation and criticism, exclusivity and intolerance, and procrastination. We’d like to also avoid increasing the size of our Church building, and we don’t wish to lose any Church members.

We realise everyone was not able to be present, but may have things to add that are important to you about our community. Please feel free to chat with the Clergy, the Wardens or members of Council. Once we have received input from our young people, the next step will be to formulate the above into vision, mission and priority statements. It is our intention to have these finalised in time for our Annual Vestry meeting in January 2013.

Blessings
Mark

Monday, July 30, 2012

August 2012 - New Vision


Dear Friends

A new Vision



Please join us on Saturday 18 August 2012 from 08:30 to 13:00 in the Parish Hall to reflect on Corpus Christi’s direction for the next three to five years. This workshop will begin a process that will then go to Parish Council, back to the Parish as a whole for comment, and finally be formally accepted at Annual Vestry in January 2013. It is vitally important that you give your input “from the pew” at the beginning of the process as it will guide our Parish life over the next few years. Please make every effort to join us!

In 2006 we developed a “Statement of Purpose” that acted as a powerful tool for a number of years at Parish Council level. Over the last two years we have been increasingly aware at this level that our Statement no longer drives us, and needs review. The Diocese has asked us to reflect on the Diocesan Theme, and review our Parish vision as part of this process.

Our present statement reads as follows: Corpus Christi is a Christ-centred, traditional Anglican community guided by the Holy Spirit. We offer inclusive, flexible, relevant and dignified worship opportunities. Our mission is building the Kingdom of God in the wider community through outreach and service. We focus on our lives being a place where others meet Christ, offering opportunities through our Christian community for spiritual and relational growth, care, fellowship and ministry development. We value friendship, youth participation, and broad-based parishioner involvement. At its heart are the words “We focus on our lives being a place where others meet Christ.”

In seeking to create a “New Vision”, we are not saying that our previously stated core purpose and values are no longer important. Rather, we are reflecting on the need to take into account the transformation (irreversible change) that this sense of purpose and value has brought about as we have sought to live out the mission and vision we identified in 2006. We are asking the question, “What is the next step in our transformative journey with Christ as we seek to be effective for the Kingdom in the context of Garsfontein and the wider communities we serve?” As Christians our purpose (mission) is discovered in Scripture; our vision is discovered in our context. As Anglicans our context is not just the suburb and its surrounds in which we worship and live, but also our Archdeaconry (Pretoria East) and Diocese (Pretoria), as well as the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Our context is complex.

Our Diocesan Theme (agreed to at Diocesan Synod in 2011) is Renewed and empowered to be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). On 18 August 2012 we will take some time to reflect on what this actually means for us, and what it says about who God is calling us to BE, where God is calling us to GO, and what GOD is calling us to DO. We will ask the question, “What will our Parish community look like if we are renewed and empowered?”  and we will seek to revise our Statement of Purpose accordingly. This Theme seeks to move us from programmes to processes, from decisions to disciples and from services to service. It asks us to reflect not simply on how many people come to our Church services, but how many people our Church serves; not simply how many people attend our ministry, but how many people have we equipped for ministry; not simply how many people minister inside the Church, but how many minister outside the Church; not simply helping people become more whole in themselves, but helping people bring more wholeness to their world; not only how many people we bring into the community of faith, but also how many people we help experience healthy community; not simply counting the resources that God gives us to steward, but counting how many good stewards we are developing for the sake of the world; not simply how effective we are with our mission, but how faithful we are to God; not simply how much we immerse ourselves in Scripture, but how faithfully we live in the story of God.

Our Parish is a bit like a car: imagine a driver, front-seat passenger and back-seat passengers. What would you like to be driving our Parish car? Management? Programmes? Relationships? Vision? Which of these is taking up most of our time and energy in the Parish? What are we most concerned about? – that is the one that is driving our Parish!!  If we have out-grown our vision, it is possibly sitting in the back-seat, most likely with relationships, and management has managed to get behind the steering wheel with some support from programmes. This means the car (Parish) is in good shape, is well maintained, polished and resourced, but rather aimless, its journey a bit like that old fashioned “Sunday afternoon Drive” with no particular destination in mind, the journey being a pleasant end in itself. Now imagine the car (Parish) with vision behind the steering wheel and with relationships in the front passenger seat, with management and programmes giving support from the back. A more focused journey? A sense of direction? A sense of purpose?

What is the difference between vision and mission? Our mission (purpose) is what we do best every day, and our vision is what the future looks like because we do our mission so exceedingly well. Vision is really important as it energises us to be about our mission. The following questions help us evaluate our vision: does it create excitement about the future? Does it build a powerful image of what our Parish can look like over the next three to five years? Does it build on our history, our strengths and on our unique characteristics? Does it inspire people to act? Is it resulting in focused forward movement in the Parish? Does our vision statement represent a dream that is beyond what we think is possible without God, or is it too small? When is/was its “sell by date”? In thinking about our vision for the next three to five years, we also need to reflect on what are the things we have in place that we want to keep? And what are some of the new things we need to do or achieve? What are some of the things we are currently doing that we need to stop doing? And is there anything we wish to avoid happening? We also need to identify some specific targets (no less than one and no more than three) in relation to our vision in order to energise our mission.

The above is what we are hoping to begin achieving on Saturday 18 August 2012. If it has awakened a spark of interest in you, I really do hope you will be able to find the time to join us for the morning. In preparation, please take time to reflect on the many questions raised above.

Blessings
Mark

Thursday, July 05, 2012

July 2012 - Transformation


Dear Friends

Spirituality


Hello, I’m a recovering racist … and a recovering sexist. My name is Mark.

I recently attended an international conference is Johannesburg hosted by the Jesuit Institute entitled Spiritual Direction in the African Context. The above comment stems from a paper presented by Prof Susan Rakoczy, IHM, Women and Spiritual Direction: The Many Dimensions of Co-Discernment in which she challenged us to recognise the formative nature of society upon us; that while we may not – or no longer – consciously hold to racial or sexist dogma, if we have grown up in a society that has formed us in these ideologies (she grew up in the USA) we, like alcoholics, are never truly free of these social diseases. Her paper focused more particularly on the struggle women directors and women seekers of spiritual direction experience, influenced by the patriarchy of church and society; and how this is often a barrier to women in growing into a true sense of self in a world where male experience and needs often define our spirituality, theology and praxis within the church and the social environment.

Racism in the South African context has devolved in our post-1994 democracy into classism and xenophobia. Whenever, we find ourselves talking about, “Those people …” or saying to someone in some way different from ourselves, “Your people …”, we are guilty of spreading these social germs. We often react with surprise when we are challenged for making what is perceived to be a racist, classist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic remark, and are sure we are not. However, if we have been exposed to these social diseases – and if we are honest, they are prevalent globally in most cultures and societies in some form – it is likely that we are in a continuous process of recovery (unless we consciously choose to promote these evil attitudes), hopefully moving to greater wholeness as individuals and societies, but recovering nonetheless. This process of recovery impacts on our spirituality, our awareness of self, of God, of community, and is often at the root of social and community breakdown. It stunts our spiritual and emotional growth as persons. An awareness and willingness to acknowledge that we are recovering – as opposed to recovered – is a first step towards relational and social health.

Corpus Christi, with our wonderfully cosmopolitan and intra-cultural diversity, offers an ideal Alcoholics Anonymous-type space to begin to deal with these negative issues and attitudes that affect our society. The question, ultimately, in our parish context is whether we are able to trust one-another sufficiently to create such a space where our antibodies to these social diseases can be strengthened? One of the Wesley brothers described the church as a microcosm of the greater world, a thought that I find helpful when we have to deal with social and relational pain within the church and Christian community. If we create this space for each other there will be times when we are hurt by fellow Christians

Is God’s power strong enough to sustain us through these actual or potential hurts that we may truly be a transformed community transforming our world? I believe it is possible.

So what are you recovering from?

Cathedral Update


The Commission under Canon 21.3 has begun its work, and the Cathedral has requested that the process of mediation only begin after the Commission’s investigation is complete. While these processes continue Chapter members will take Sunday services at the Cathedral on a rotational basis, and the process of appointing a Dean will begin and other governance issues will be addressed.

Anonymous emails emanating in some form from the Cathedral community, along with various newspaper articles, continue to undermine and attack the Bishop’s character and leadership. Please realise that these articles do not reflect the whole truth and are often based on false allegations and not on proven fact.

Please continue to pray for the Cathedral Parish, the Diocesan Leadership and our Bishop, and those who represent the Province on behalf of the Archbishop, that real reconciliation and healing may be experienced by all concerned.

Blessings
Mark