Sunday, June 29, 2008

July 2008 - It's in your hands

Dear friends

46664 – It’s in your hands

At his 90th Birthday Concert celebration in Hyde Park, London, last Friday Nelson Mandela gave a brief, but remarkable speech: “We say tonight after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.” Madiba has been inspirational both as a person and as a leader, in large part because he has lived and led with integrity. The political landscape, particularly on the African continent, even in the world, is bleak in comparison. We need God to raise up leaders of integrity, able to inspire public confidence and loyalty. But even more importantly we need to hear Mandela’s words, that it is our hands: we have the wherewithal to make a difference. We need to acknowledge our God-given gifting and stand up and be counted.

Broadening the base - encounter

Parish Council has recognised that as a Parish we rely on the few to carry the burden of leadership, mission and ministry. Hilary Davis, in the Stewardship portfolio, has worked hard to distil questions that will prompt us to acknowledge our individual God-given gifts. The first of these questions appear in this edition of the Magazine, and more will appear in the next few months, and I encourage you to wrestle with yourself, with God, with us, so that together we can increasingly be obedient to the call of God on our lives to mission and ministry. Where are you encountering God – in life, in the church, in the world? Where you encounter God is likely to be where God is calling you to develop your calling and ministry further.

Community development

The Diocesan Mission, Ministry & Evangelism (MM&E) programme is moving us into a phase where we begin to consciously focus outwards into the world, and encounter the communities in which we live. Thobeka Mda, in the Community Needs portfolio, has collated your input via the recent questionnaire circulated in the Pewleaflet. A number of ideas have been put forward including interacting with and supporting the Garsfontein Police Station; parenting support; outreach to the various schools and retirement centres in our neighbourhood; the activation of parishioners geographically for mutual support and outreach initiatives. If you have any further thoughts, either on ideas already mentioned or other opportunities, please feed these into the office or directly to Thobeka.

Journeying in discipleship

The recent visit of the Bishop of Reading to the Diocese highlighted the importance of evangelism & mission as a continuing journey, and more specifically that to be a convert is insufficient: one needs to become a disciple (learner) of Christ as well. My initiative in starting a regular Wednesday evening adult Christian education course is in response to this challenge. We are presently reflecting on and discussing aspects of the Apostles Creed, which participants are finding challenging and exciting. While the course is designed in such a way that you can interact when available, I am really encouraging you to set time aside on a Wednesday and take your growth as a Disciple seriously. Attending Sunday Worship, while hopefully uplifting and encouraging, maintains our Spirituality but is not designed to grow us as disciples – additional commitment of time is needed.

My thanks to Les Rudman, in the Ecumenism portfolio, for our weekly Pewleaflet insert on aspects of Anglicanism. This initiative is part of our education development initiative and has grown out of an awareness that if we are going to seek to interact with other Christians in community outreach, it is important that we know who we are as Anglican Christians; that we are confident in who we are and in why we choose to worship in the way we do.

Sunday worship

In case what I’ve said above gives the impression our Sunday worship may not be as important as we think, let me share with you the Benedictine perspective on Sunday Worship from Joan Chittister: “The Rule of Benedict – insight for the Ages”:

It is a day full of tradition and rhythm and rememberings of the simple but important concepts of existence. It is a return to basic truths that are never to be sacrificed for variety and always reinforced through repetition. … the Sabbath is the moment for returning to the surety and solemnity of life, for setting our sights above the daily, for restating the basics, for giving meaning to the rest of the week so that the mundane and the immediate do not become the level of our existence. [page 80]

Willow Glen developments

Diocesan Standing Committee has taken the initiative in expanding the mission to the wider Willow Glen area by encouraging the parishioners of Silverton, who have become unsustainable as a Parish due to various factors, to merge with the congregation developing in Willow Glen. Additionally, Diocesan Trustees have made a decision to sell the Silverton Church plant and property and invest this money in building a new Church and community facility on the Diocesan property in Stellenberg Road in Equestria. Our hope is that in October we will receive Diocesan Synod’s permission for this area to formally become a Mission Parish, centred on Willow Glen/Equestria, but stretching from Silverton in the West through to Silver Lakes in the East, filling the corridor on either side of the N4. Please keep these ongoing initiatives in prayer, and especially Fr Vernon who presently carries this missionary responsibility.

Thank you

It is encouraging in these tough political, social and economic times - with increasing interest rate hikes, fuel prices, and electricity costs - to see our Parish finances still looking so healthy. Parish Council appreciates the sacrifice we know many of you are making to keep to your Generosity Giving commitments. Thank you!