Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Summer Newsletter 2015: Article

Dear Friends

A change of Season

As we move from Spring to Summer we move liturgically into the season of Advent. This is a spiritual season of hope as we prepare ourselves for our Christmas celebrations. I defined "hope" in a recent sermon as trust and expectation, a feeling that flows far deeper than the frivolities that our increasingly secular and consumerist society often serve us with at this time of year. As we enter into this time and reflect on the gifts we intend to give one another as we again celebrate the coming of God into the midst of humanity, perhaps it may be helpful to ask,  "How will this gift build trust?", "How will this gift renew expectation?" in a world where we increasingly trust less, and our expectations are often thwarted. How will your gift be God's gift?

In Parish life this change in season is marked by our Morning Market and our celebration of St Andrew's Day.
      Our Morning Market has again been a huge success, and more important than the money we raise is how the Market draws us together as a community, giving us an opportunity to serve each other and to serve the world: we come together, give of our substance and the bric-a-brac of our lives; we create space and invite the wider community in; we raise money - lots of it - and give it all away!
      St Andrew's Day, as part of this festive weekend at the end of November, importantly reminds us of the key characteristics of the Andrean community, so well laid out in the St Andrew's Day collect (An Anglican Prayer Book 1989, page 315):

Lord God, by your grace the apostle Saint Andrew obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay: grant that we may offer ourselves to you in joyful obedience; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

      Andreans are those who obey God's call, follow without delay, and are joyfully obedient. How do you experience these three "gifts" in your own life, and in our Church community? Are there people whose lifestyle delineates these characteristics for you? Have there been seminal moments in life and faith that have helped define these characteristics for you? How do you live these three characteristics out in your own relationships?

Outward change demands internal transition. Along with the changes in season and liturgy, what other changes are you experiencing, and what internal transitions of attitude or perspective are these demanding of you? Where are you experiencing God both in the outward changes and in the inward spaces of transition? And how are you responding?

A New Year

2016 is just around the corner, and with Easter falling in March, Lent is but a hop-and-a-skip from Christmas.
      I encourage you to think about joining us for our Lent Course, People of the Way, a discipleship course developed in the Diocese of Johannesburg based on the liturgical imperatives of the Lent and Easter calendar. The Marriage Course will hopefully again be offered in April and May, and a course on being Christian and Anglican, Becoming Anglican: a Journey into God, from mid-July through to mid-September. In October a Stewardship Course will again be offered, with a slightly different focus to 2015. These courses will form the backbone of our Confirmation Course for anyone who would like to be Confirmed next year (adult and teenager).
      If you're interested in learning more about prayer, then our series of five Quiet Mornings in 2016 titled "Why pray?" will be helpful to you as Bishop Geoff Quinlan and Prof Denise Ackermann offer teaching and reflection on various aspects of prayer.
      We're planning another Parish Weekend at Volmoed from 8-10 April, and would love to see you there. The Parish Council has once again agreed to cover the cost of the weekend, so you'll just need to get yourself to Volmoed.
      A further innovation for 2016 is a regular Saturday morning Parish Breakfast that David and Debbie Hoffmann will be facilitating. This may alternate with men's  and women's specific events, but the first one will be an inclusive Breakfast on Saturday 30 January to which we are all invited!
      And of course the regulars: our Annual Vestry in early March, our monthly "Love Packs", our winter Curry Supper on Friday 22 July, and our Morning Market on Saturday 26 November.

A big focus for the first half of 2016 will be to finalise the funding for our new building so that we can beat any cost escalation and complete the project by the end of 2017. A reminder that you can "purchase" one or more "bricks" for R5,000 each, or together with others contribute towards one. We are still looking for someone with the necessary time and passion available to do the "leg work" for the funding initiative. Our Churchwarden and Fundraising Facilitator, William Tough, awaits your call!

Abundant Blessing

I am reminded in today's lectionary readings that God works abundantly, despite our perception that resources are scarce. It is a verse that I shared two years ago in this column, and which reminds me that as we look directly onto Table Mountain from St Andrew's it is a symbol of God's provision in our lives, and is a source of hope for us as God's people and for us as South Africans in these challenging times both locally and globally:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people's a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. (Isaiah 25:6 NRSV)

If you're traveling over Christmas, please drive carefully and be vigilant for other people's stupidity on our roads! If you're in Cape Town our Christmas programme of Carol Services and Christmas Worship will give you a number of opportunities to centre this season on God. Please remember that visiting family and friends are always welcome at our Services!

With love and Christmas blessings
Mark

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Spring Newsletter 2015: Article

Dear Friends

Welcome to Spring! One of my favorite images in the Cape is the fresh green oak leaves that appear at this time of year, almost translucent. The clivias in their prolific orange are also a treat for the eye, as are the bursts of pink and purple, and the variety of blossom that greets us in the great outdoors. The days grow lighter earlier, and the sunset holds the dark at bay that little bit longer each day. Summer beckons, and Capetonians creep quietly from their winter hibernation, or fly home. The Church pews fill, and life begins again.

Not that winter has been lifeless; far from it! July saw Dawn and I celebrate our 50th Birthdays, and we much appreciated the many who joined us on Mandela Day to celebrate: a wonderful sense of belonging as friends old and new played tag at the front door. The accompanying pictures demonstrate the unexpected generosity of gifts; and thanks to all who brought a plate of food to share. The added gift of sunshine after a week of drenching rain added to the festive nature of the day. "Thing One" and "Thing Two" shared a glorious birthday!

August sawn Dawn and I, together with our daughter Cassie, heading to England for a family-filled three weeks. We were joined by our son, Nathan, and our granddaughter, Rebecca-Lee, for the final week. We spent the first week with my parents in Surrey and travelled daily into a London immersion of St Paul's Cathedral (where we "did the dome", climbing the five hundred plus steps to the top) with its amazingly beautiful mosaic ceilings depicting various aspects of creation; the Tate Modern where I enjoyed Picasso for the first time, and discovered from my daughter that Modern Art is all about cloud watching (images appear and disappear as you stare into the amorphous mess of paint on canvas); a tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace with their opulence and pomp of royalty (a really well put together tour); and time with my brothers, their wives and their children.
     We then headed to Cheshire, visiting the Michael's in Winchester on the way, a beautiful town with an amazing Cathedral. In Cheshire we visited the Moore side of my family, enjoying a family gathering on the Sunday, a visit to the family caravan on Anglesey and a final dinner together at the Stretton Fox; a visit to St Beuno's Retreat Centre in Wales, and a return visit to the beautiful Chester Cathedral. We then headed for our Long Family Gathering in Devon, near Exeter, via Oxford for an afternoon of exploration and to London to collect Nathan and Rebecca-Lee. Oxford was amazing in a short period of time, walking from Magdalene College up to the Carfax Tower, returning via Christ Church College (more recently of Harry Potter fame) and the Botanical Gardens, stopping in to visit the University Church of St Mary the Virgin (an intriguing space with not one cross visible, and a beautiful portrait of the Virgin and Child behind the altar) where Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were condemned for their reformist ways and led to their deaths to be burnt at the stake.
     We had a wonderful Long Family Gathering in Aylesbeare - the main reason for our visit - filling a ten bedroom house with twenty three of us, four generations! We went swimming in the sea at Dawlish Warren, walking along the coastal path at Ladram Bay, and visited the seaside village of Beer (the source of Exeter Cathedral's stone), and Buckfast Abbey (a working Catholic Benedictine Monastry), and Exeter Cathedral, in between serious challenges at the pool table, much good food and family fellowship.

While visiting St Beuno's Retreat Centre in Wales, Dawn picked up a pamphlet that contained the following quote by Pope Benedict XVI:

Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.

One might be tempted, visiting various Cathedral's in England, to think that these buildings were inspired by lofty ideas. However, when one considers the commitment, often of more than one and sometimes many generations, to the building of these incredible symbols of a glorious God, one becomes aware of a generation's encounter with something of substance that led to projects that continued to inspire future generations, that continue to creat new horizons of awareness every time one enters these magnificent structures; projects that gave decisive direction over long periods of time to generation after generation, and even today to the curious tourist like myself. Chester and Exeter Cathedrals, despite their size and incredible soaring Gothic architecture still manage to create a sense of intimacy even in their larger spaces for worship, a sense of this great and glorious God being accessible and available.

And I am challenged to ask, "Are we building similarly, not necessarily in stone and mortar, for future generations? Or in this consumerist culture that we've embraced, are we building only for ourselves?" It's an important question.

Blessings
Mark

Friday, 19 June 2015

Family and Youth Services/Events

Dear Friends

One of our core spaces for faith development as Anglicans is our immersion in sacramental worship. We know this as adults, but often forget this when it comes to our children. And we are surprised when our children in the suburban context often wander off as teenagers and young adults, despite their lack of exposure to sacramental worship in their formative years. At St Andrew's we offer the following opportunities for our children and Teenagers immersion in worship:

Morning Family Services

Our next quarterly morning Family Service takes place this Sunday, 21 June 2015, at 09:00. We recognise that it is difficult to keep younger children engaged for an extended period of worship, but really do encourage parents to persevere! Our older children and Teenagers are encouraged to directly participate with the readings and prayers, and the younger children to have time out of the pews by coming forward to sit in front for the participative sermon, and later in the service to join us around the altar for the Eucharistic prayer where we consecrate the bread and wine. Parents are also welcome to come forward where younger children may be anxious to do so on their own.

Evening Family-focused Services

We offer a monthly evening Family-focused Service for families with Teenagers or young adults who wish to worship together. Church Council has agreed that these now take place on the 4th Sunday of each month, and our next Family-focused Service will take place on Sunday 28 June 2015 at 18:30. School holidays, exams and long-weekends do prove a challenge to these events, and again some perseverance is required! Again, opportunity for our young people to be directly involved in readings, prayers and sidepersons duties, is offered. We seek to keep this service more informal in nature. Refreshments (Pizza!) are offered on the lawn after the service.

Archdeaconry Youth Services

At Archdeaconry level (we belong to the Archdeaconry of Rondebosch, which includes Rondebosch, Claremont, Newlands, and Protea) the involvement of our youth is a concern for all our Churches. We at St Andrew's will host the next Archdeaconry Youth Service on Sunday 26 July 2015 at 18:30. This will combine with our July Family-focused Service, and it will be great to have our youth and families participating, please.

Youth Event

Raymond Quinlan is organising a hike for our Teenagers up Plattekloof Gorge to the top of Table Mountain on Saturday 27 June 2015, 09:00 for 09:30. He would be keen for parents or other members of the Parish to join him for this. Raymond can be contacted on 0824277174 or raymondquinlan@hotmail.com if you are interested in participating.

Blessings
Mark

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Winter Newsletter 2015: Article

Dear Friends

As always, time seems to move forward far faster than it possibly should! Winter is upon us, marked by late rains in June; half the year has passed and yet seemingly only just begun. Since our last Newsletter we have journeyed through the Seasons of Lent and Easter, entering now into the extended Season of Sundays after Pentecost that will take us through Winter and Spring and into early Summer. In terms of Church activities, Lent was marked by our Parish Camp in early March and our Lent Course that focused us on the Apostles Creed, asking us to reflect on the relevance of ancient beliefs in our 21st century world; the Season of Easter was marked by The Marriage Course.

The Parish Camp

This was a really good time away together, and my thanks to all who were able to join us. There was lots of time for fellowship and relaxation together. We did spend some time, though, applying our minds on the Saturday morning to Acts 2:42-47 while reflecting on the theme "serving each other; serving the world". We drew on the links between teaching,  fellowship, the sharing of meals, and prayer in terms of serving each other;  and on signs and wonders, the sale of property and possessions, giving to those in need, and generosity in terms of serving the world. Out of these reflections we moved into discussion groups, which highlighted the following as needing to be priority for us at St Andrew's:

Priority One

Preaching (the present quality and variety was affirmed); Home Groups (that the present Groups should be supplemented with new groups, for which leaders need to be identified); Young People (identify needs, create opportunity for volunteerism, and explore a supper club)

Priority Two

Regular multi-generational "Coffee Afternoons"; teaching on Contemplative Prayer and on "Being Anglican"; Newcomers (create room to be involved beyond the superficial); Programmes (Alpha, Renew, The Marriage Course, etc)

Priority Three

Worship (forms of worship, a review of service times, opportunity for quiet); Men's Breakfast; Ministry to The Needy (fewer, bigger projects with more opportunity for active involvement); Prayerfulness (prayerful support, being a "voice of hope"); Evangelism Training (how to market our community, attract visitors to belong; impact on our communities for Christ)

Parish Council has noted these priorities, but the key to implementation is finding people who will have the passion and time to help further interrogate, and then implement, these priorities in practical ways.

What of the above has warmed your interest? If you are sensing a gentle pressure from the Holy Spirit, please come and chat with myself, or a member of Council, or a Layminister,  and we can explore this prompting further. God generally prompts more than one person, so while one needs to take that step of Faith and speak to someone, often God already has a partner lined up. But you'll never know if you don't ask... and I look forward to a conversation with you.

The Marriage Course

You may have noted (above) that one of the items noted under Priority Two in our group discussions at the Parish Camp were programmes such as Alpha and The Marriage Course, both of which have their origins at Holy Trinity, Brompton, in the UK. Just as the Lent Course was an offering to us during the Season of Lent, so The Marriage Course has been an offering to us during the Season of Easter. The Easter Season reminds us about the essentials of our Christian Faith (death, resurrection, renewal), and The Marriage Course likewise does this in terms of our marriage relationships (the essentials of strong foundations, artful communication, resolved conflict, the power of forgiveness, the impact of wider family past and present, good sex, and putting our love into action).

Nine couples participated this year, and all completed the course strengthened in these essentials. Dawn and I were privileged to be able to participate (and I must admit to Dawn being keener than I was to start with). I must also admit to being surprised! It really was good, and enabled us to talk through numerous aspects of our relationship in a fresh and life-giving way in our twenty-fifth year together. And, of course, the weekly suppers... delicious!

This course took place (and will again next year, hopefully) because of Graham and Margie Michael's passion and commitment to facilitating this ministry. And also due to their willingness to draw others into the team (Waitrons Richard & Debbie Emery, and Edgar & Beryl Ruiters). My thanks to them all for their gift of ministry to us. And they are not alone in setting this example.

Participation

One of the huge challenges any volunteer organisation faces is ensuring people always feel welcome to participate in leadership and facilitation spaces, and the Church experiences this, too. I encourage you to look around: how often do familiar faces reappear in different settings at St Andrew's? There is comfort in seeing a specific face at the altar, then in the kitchen,  then on Church Council; but is it good for us as a community? There is a danger that we rely on the goodwill of the few, and take their availability and passion for granted. Or, as in the case of the Layministers, for example, there seems to be a large group, but we forget that there are five services a week at St Andrew's and not all Layministers are available all the time, or during the week, due to work or travel or illness.

A number of our coordinators and facilitators of key ministries have indicated a need to step back after numerous years of active and faithful service, but Council is finding it difficult to identify people willing to accept appointment. Among others, we are looking for new coordinators for the Morning Market, Children's Church, and Flower Guild. We're needing to grow the Layministers team, find additional Children's Church teachers, Home Group leaders, flower-arrangers, people to serve tea, sidespeople, readers. We need to add to our team of available people to help with various Ministry to the Needy projects, and people to participate in the Fundraising Committee for our new building project.

The temptation is to see people busy and active and involved and to say either, "They don't need me!" or, "There's no space for me!" I wish to suggest that neither statement is ever true... we need your participation, and we need more than just your help (although help is valued). If I may be so bold, "participation" is about being proactively willing to either lead or support depending on the need; it is about taking "ownership" of our community life. The nature of the Church (in the broadest sense) is that even if you don't belong, you do!

What are your gifts? What are your interests? What is your passion? How can you participate in the St Andrew's call to serve each other  and to serve the world?

I look forward to our next conversation, you and me.

Love and Blessings
Mark

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Family-focused Service in May

Dear Friends

Our next family-focused service takes place on Sunday 10 May 2015 at 18:30. A reminder that the idea behind this service is to give families with Teenagers and Young Adults an opportunity to worship together on occasion. This service remains open to all who would like to attend, but we do specifically ask those families with Teenagers/Young Adults to make the effort to join us for these occasional services. We will serve refreshments (Pizza!) afterwards on the lawn.

It has been our plan to hold these services regularily on the 2nd Sunday of the month to create some continuity and expectation. We are, however, struggling this year as this particular Sunday keeps falling either in the holidays or on a long weekend (not to mention exams, etc) so our apologies for the present lack of continuity!

See you on Sunday 10 May!!

Blessings
Mark

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Rector's Report to Annual Vestry 2015: St Andrew's Church, Newlands

Introduction

In today's Gospel reading we hear this affirmation of God's relationship with Jesus, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy" (Mark 1:11b; NLTse). This relationship was affirmed in last Sunday's Gospel reading, "This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him" (Mark 9:7b; NLTse). These words, first heard at Jesus' baptism and repeated at Jesus' transfiguration, are key: they draw us into the relationship of love that is God. We are reminded that it is from this base of stable, loving relationship that Jesus' ministered to his world; and it is in sharing in this relationship that we are called to live and minister in our world. Perhaps the greatest challenge of Faith is to truly accept that we are loved by God, and then to live out of and into that space. God's words, "Listen to him" are spoken in this context: we listen lovingly and carefully to God; we listen lovingly and caringly to each other; and we repent mightily when we realise that our self-interest has undermined these interactions.

We are amazingly blessed as a Church community here at St Andrew's. We are good people, caring people, loving people. We look outwards, and we generously share our resources far beyond our own boundaries. If we are not caring, it is of ourselves rather than of others, which was the key learning we made at our Vision Workshop in August. Thank you to each one of you for who you are, and for what you contribute to our common life; for your love for God, and for the multitude of ways you live that out both within the boundaries of Church life, and beyond in the fullness and chaos of your lives and communities.

I have sought to use this first year as your Rector as an opportunity to observe, to get a feel for the ebb and flow of Parish life. I am, however, and active observer, which means that there have been some incremental changes along the way, largely pragmatic and practical in nature. Radical change is normally only required in times of crisis and breakdown, and we are a healthy community. But just because we are a healthy community does not mean that there are not areas of concern, and these do need to be addressed.

Partnerships

One major area of concern for me is that we hold lightly the responsibilities God has given us for our Bishop and his family, and for the Kildare Pre-Primary School; and it has taken the building project to highlight this. Both relationships go back close on fifty years, a life-time for a person such as myself. Strangely, in a number of conversations over this last year the perception I get is that these two relationships are considered a hindrance - rather than a blessing - to us as a community. Instead of asking how we can be supportive of the Bishop of Table Bay, his ministry and family, we are praying for the return of the house to Parish use, with an underlying implication that Diocesan use of that facility is somehow illegitimate. Instead of seeing the school as a partner in mission, we appear to see them largely in transactional terms, somehow begrudging the fact that a facility built in the 1950's to house a school for a poorer community now houses a school for the wealthy, when in fact it still serves the community that surrounds it. In both cases I believe we are putting self-interest ahead of the Gospel. My only concern is in how we can nurture both these relationships, not end them.

It is important to note that living in Newlands gives the Bishop easy access to the Diocese as a whole, and with all the pressures of Episcopal ministry this centrality is important and life-giving. The Diocese has recognised this and has substantially invested in the house over time. In terms of the school, church and school are interwoven in the wider Newlands community perception, and we under-appreciate this at our own risk! We have this link to thank for the involvement over the years of numerous families in our church life, of whom Debbie and Rob Coombes and their family, amongst others, are a present example.

Annual Vestry 2014: Actions taken

Our Building Project

The Building Committee has worked hard to produce the results asked of them at our 2014 Annual Vestry Meeting, and we will receive a full report from them. I hope that their presentation and recommendations will receive our full support. What the committee will be proposing to us really is the only option if we are to take our responsibilities for our partnership with the Diocese and the School seriously, and still provide for our own needs as a Church community. A perennial question that arises in any Church community seeking to build often revolves around asking how we can possibly be considering spending money on ourselves when the needs "out there" are so pervasive and immense; and we are no different. However, there is a difference between self-interest and legitimate self-need, and sadly in the Christian community we often ignore legitimate self-need and in the process undermine our ability to meet the challenges of the Gospel.

We are not a community that suffers overly from self-interest when it comes to sharing our resources: through the Ministry to the Needy (MTN) we have given away R5,000,000 over the last ten years. That is not insignificant, and is substantially more than a tithe on what the Building Committee is proposing we spend on getting our facilities up to scratch for our needs as a Church community in this part of Cape Town. Our present facilities have served us well over the years, but our needs have changed and our commitments have grown; we need to spend substantial money to modernise, upgrade, and extend our facilities in order to make them more user-friendly and accessible to ourselves and to the wider community. The project is daunting on a number of levels, but that should not be our primary concern in moving forward on this project for which we already have a seed fund of R2,000,000 invested with the Diocese. We need to draw on the example of our forebears in the 1890's who had the courage to build this church with no less daunting financial costs, comparatively, and with a far poorer community-base than we have today.

The South African Book of Common Prayer

At our Annual Vestry last year the ongoing use of the South African Book of Common Prayer (SAPB) was queried, and Parish Council was asked to reflect and make some decisions around this. Council made the decision to use the Anglican Prayer Book 1989 (APB '89) for the early morning Christmas Day Eucharist, but on my request has delayed a decision on possible changes to the Sunday 07:30 and Wednesday 09.30 Services. This is in part due to my needing time to get a feel for the worship life of the Parish, but also in needing this to be addressed in the broader fame-work of service times, hymn choices, and the purpose our various opportunities for worship offer. In the next short while you will receive a survey sheet in this regard, which l encourage you please to fill in and return. Additionally, Synod of Bishops' have indicated that experimental material will soon be made available as part of a revision of the APB '89, which will add further pressure to move away from the SAPB, and to begin to consider the APB '89 as the "Old Prayer Book".

Youth Ministry

Also at last year's Annual Vestry, concern was raised about our ministry in particular to Teenagers. It is a phenomenon in many Anglican Churches that a new Rector is expected to miraculously have answers to the chronic issue affecting many wealthy suburban Churches of traditional origin. There are no miraculous answers. Our young people, generally, are in schools that demand the bulk of our children's time, have parents that fill the rest of their time with extra (beneficial) activities, and whose options for entertainment are multitude; and they find the forms of more traditional worship we offer boring in the extreme. Despite these almost insurmountable obstacles we have made some headway to retain our small group of Grade 8 and 9's, largely though the efforts of William Tough in creating a ''Teen Church" group that has some definition distinguishing them as different from the bigger Children's Church; and they are showing some interest in forming a Servers' Guild. We have also instituted a regular family-focused evening service that draws families with teenagers and young adults together on an approximate monthly basis, which is valued, but still needs some work on the recipe. We must, however, be doing something right as the St Cyprian's School boarders have elected to join us on a weekly basis at our Sunday evening service. They will review this after Easter, but in the meantime they are a definite value-add in more than just the additional numbers they bring to our attendance figures!

Ministry

Layministry

Our Layministers have recently undergone further training at Archdeaconry level and have been re-licensed by Bishop Garth at a joint service at St Paul's, Rondebosch. We welcome Dawn Long as a valuable new member of the team, and congratulate Jill, Edgar, Rosemary, Graham and Margie, William, Bev, Sheena, Denise, Ivor, Tony, and Jenny, on their re-licensing as Layministers. Alison's circumstances conspired to prohibit her from attending the training, but as her license is still valid for another year this was no problem. Daphne Myburgh and Steve Bethke have made the difficult decision not to renew their licenses; Daphne for health and family reasons, and Steve due to his studies and move to Brakenfell. We are thankful to them both for their contribution to our worship and pastoral life over an extended period of time. Edgar Ruiters and Bev Voight have both asked for a period of Sabbatical, which Council has agreed to; please keep them both in prayer. Thank you to each of our Layministers for honouring the call on your lives, and for being of service to us all at St Andrew's. l also take this opportunity on behalf of Vestry to congratulate Denise Ackermann on her appointment and licensing as Canon Theologian of the Cathedral.

Parish ministries

Despite a seemingly large group of Layministers, staffing three services a Sunday is proving difficult, and we are in need of additional members. If you feel called to this ministry, or perhaps to helping out with just the prayers, please speak up. This goes for other ministries, too: we are always needing to complement the present group of readers, sides-people, tea-makers and providers, Children's Church teachers, soup-makers, flower-arrangers, pray'ers, sacristans, servers, and youth, small groups, and our annual Morning Market. Please don't wait to be asked: offer! Please feel free to chat to me, to Bev-in-the-office, or to someone already involved in the area you are interested in. And at this point my huge thanks to everyone already involved in facilitating or participating in these ministries.

Worship

My thanks to Bishop Geoff for his ongoing commitment to be with us to preach and preside on the 1st  Sunday of the month and his input into a number of our small groups, and to Denise for her willingness to preach on a regular basis; and to them both for their ongoing commitment to our Lent Course. There is great value in having more than just the Rector's voice speaking into our common life, and I am hugely appreciative of their contribution. My thanks, too, to Elizabeth Cherry in particular for being willing to step into the gap in my absence. It has also been good to have previous Rectors of this Parish, Keith Griffiths and Mike Keggie, take services during this last year. Our Sunday worship has been complemented by regular Quiet Mornings, and I am appreciative of Rosemary's continuing to champion these as part of our membership of the Quiet Garden movement. Sadly, our Taize Services have fallen away for 2015, but my huge thanks to Esther and Karin for giving leadership to this over a number of years. We are hoping to offer some form of more reflective worship at the Sunday evening service when there is a 5th Sunday in the month.

Mission and Vision

In our August ''Vision Workshop" we took time to reflect on our purpose as a Christian and Anglican community here in Newlands. It was a useful morning, highlighting that we have been somewhat self-forgetting as a community, and that while we reach out meaningfully to the wider community of Cape Town through our MTN programme, we need to become more conscious of caring for and loving each other; and as mentioned above, a modernised, upgraded and extended hall and meeting facilities would enhance our ability to do this. Out of this meeting came the tag-line "Serving each other; serving the world." This is a first step towards renewing our mission and vision statements; and I am planning for us to explore this further on our Church Camp in March. We are also needing to explore how we can become more hands-on and personally involved in the projects and needs we support through the MTN programme.

Closure

In closing, firstly my thanks to my wife, Dawn: being a clergy spouse is never an easy space for a variety of reasons, and it is often difficult to "belong" in the same way the average parishioner "belongs" in parish life; and being married to a community-owned person often makes sustained intimacy a distant goal. In addition, she has the added burden of being married to me, which is not quite as idyllic as you may suppose. I am an introvert by nature, and Dawn often has the daunting task of coping with me in my "down time", where l can be distant, uncommunicative, and grumpy. l greatly appreciate her ongoing and sacrificial support of my ministry.

Secondly, my thanks to Bev Shaw, our Parish secretary. Bev has an amazing supply of patience and friendliness. Particularly amazing is her inner-resources in coping with the impact of the Morning Market on her office space! Additionally, she has the challenge of coping with my often distracted attention and seeming indecision, not to mention the family dogs! And then of course, there is the small matter of the rest of the Parish ...

Thirdly, my thanks to our out-going Churchwardens, Simon, William and David, and our Council members: thank you so much for your time, your commitment, support, and wise advice, your gifts of insight and practical help, often at cost to your own pocket. Special thanks to Noël Peagam who steps down as Dedicated Giving Coordinator and Honorary Treasurer after over ten years of substantial service to the Parish in this capacity. It is noteworthy that Council is appointing three people in Noël's place! Thanks, too, to Raymond for his facilitation of our Youth activities; to Mark and Jos for our Sunday morning music; to Steve and Andrew and our Sunday evening music teams; to Margie Barnard for overseeing our beautiful gardens; and to our garden and domestic staff, Wanda and Mombelli.

Finally, thanks to you all. You are St Andrew's: without each one of you we would not be the vibrant and healthy community we are today. Thank you for "Listening to him" (Mark 9:7b; NLTse), for being available to God's purposes for God's kingdom as God continues to work out those purposes in us and through us here at St Andrew's in Newlands.

MARK R D LONG
Rector
22 February 2015

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Family-focused Service: Sunday 8 February 2015, 18:30

Dear Friends

Dawn and I have had a lovely break over the last two weeks filled with family and much physical activity: we've done a Sea-Kayaking Beginner's Course, signed up for an introductory course to practical Philosophy, climbed Table Mountain, walked up Lion's Head, visited the Wine Route, discovered the Truth Coffee Shop and Jason's; and I've done a substantial amount of cycling in preparation for The Cape Town Cycle Tour. So if I'm looking a little tired...

This Sunday, 8 March 2015 at 18:30, sees our first "Family-focused Service" of the year (not the 15th as advised in the last Pewleaflet). Just a reminder that the purpose of this service is to offer an opportunity for families with teenagers and young adults at home to come together in worship on a monthly basis. The format is not substancially different from our normal evening service, but we are attempting to be a little more inclusive of our young people, and  of course offer pizza afterwards! Excitingly, the St Cyprian's Boarders have made a commitment to attend our Sunday Evening Services for the first term this year, and they will be with us for their second visit this Sunday.

Our experience last year was that the second Sunday of the month was not always ideal, clashing a couple of times with holidays and exams. The idea this year is to offer it at least twice a term, on a second Sunday where possible, but to be flexible around exams in particular.

Again, feedback is important. We are aware we cannot be all things to all people, but would like to adjust where we can to meet more specific needs. Please feel free to chat to myself, William Tough, Raymond Quinlan or Alison Gwynne-Evans if there are things you'd like to see changed or done differently; and if we have the resources available we will be happy to try and meet your request.

Blessings
Mark

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Lent Course 2015 - Reflections on The Apostles' Creed

Dear Friends

Easter is very early this year. Shrove Tuesday falls on 17 February 2015 and Ash Wednesday on 18 February 2015, which means Lent is almost upon us! The focus of our Lent Course will be reflections on the Apostles' Creed. It is open to all parishioners, family and friends.

Joan Chittister, in her book In Search of Belief says of the Apostles' Creed:

The question does not lie with whether or not the Creed is believable. The Creed is about the mystery of life, and its mystery is apparent. The question is whether or not the Creed is meaningful to us, here, now. Clearly, the quandary is that we live in a desert between two places, one a relatively static world where doubt was little tolerated, the other a world exploding with information, inundated with questions, where we are now and find ourselves, as a result, no longer sure.

Please join Prof. Denise Ackermann, Bishop Geoff Quinlan, and the Rev'd Mark Long for our Lenten reflection on the Apostles' Creed and it's relevance to life and faith in the 21st Century.

We will meet on Tuesday's from 19:30 to 20:45, beginning on 24 February 2015, for the six weeks of Lent. There will be a 15-20 minute input followed by an opportunity to participate in group discussion.

For those who find evenings difficult, Mark will offer a summary on Wednesday mornings from 11:00 to 11:45, beginning 25 February 2015.

If you are able to attend, please fill in the list available at the back of the Church, or let the Office know by phone or email.

For your consideration and prayerful preparation:

24 Feb 2015: Week 1 - Creator
Prof Denise Ackermann

We believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

3 Mar 2015: Week 2 - Jesus: Birth and Death
Bishop Geoff Quinlan

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead.

10 Mar 2015: Week 3 - Jesus: Resurrection and Judgement
The Rev'd Mark Long

On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

17 Mar 2015: Week 4 - The Spirit 
Prof Denise Ackermann

We believe in the Holy Spirit.

24 Mar 2015: Week 5 - The Church and The Saints
Bishop Geoff Quinlan

(We believe in) the holy catholic Church, and the communion of Saints.

31 Mar 2015: Week 6 - Forgiveness, Resurrection and Eternity
The Rev'd Mark Long

(We believe in) the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Blessings
Mark