Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Winter Newsletter 2016: Article

Dear Friends

Serving Each Other; Serving the World

This brief tagline, Serving each other; serving the world, attempts to focus our sense of God’s call as an Andrean community in Newlands. We seek to live out our Christian faith both in the context of St Andrew’s itself (the Christian community we have chosen to align ourselves with) and in the context of the greater breadth of our lives.  This is a challenging task as we seek to “… witness to our faith by the courage of our lives” (from the Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost).

At our Church Weekend at Volmoed in April this year, we again explored what it is to serve each other and to serve the world: we spoke about Being Church and Serving our Neighbourhood. We drew on Eddie Gibbs’ book, Church Next: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry, which he wrote in 2000.

Being Church

We were challenged by three images of Church: the traditional image where people are naturally drawn to the church, aided and abetted by a Christian society, where the focus is often maintenance-minded; the modern image where church is separate from society, marginalised but still has some influence; and the postmodern image where the church seeks to survive as one segment in a fragmented and polarised pluralistic world, where each segment fights for its right to self-determination and where the church cannot assume a privileged position.

                The challenge we face at St Andrew’s is that the bulk of our parishioners have been formed by the traditional and modern images of the church, and yet our present context is increasingly defined by the need to interact with the postmodern image, especially if we are to reach younger families in our community. This is specifically evident in our inability to integrate young families who bring children for baptism into our regular Parish life.

                Everything about being Anglican in the traditional sense translates into us being maintenance-minded by nature. Our mission and ministry is built around inviting people in to participate in the life of faith inside the church as institution. Our increasingly postmodern context demands that we decentralise our mission and ministry by taking it out into the everyday life of each parishioner, and to function increasingly outside of the institution.

                Eddie Gibbs says, “From a strategy of invitation the church must move to one of infiltration, to being the subversive and transforming presence of Jesus” (page 218).

Serving our Neighbourhood

Having been challenged by these images of church, we moved into groups to reflect on how we could infiltrate our neighbourhood, which we acknowledged was an area of discomfort but critical to our future as a church community. In facilitating this process, and in wandering from group to group, I was very aware how deeply embedded we are in traditional and modern images of church: most group conversations drifted quickly away from infiltration to invitation; and in the plenary session afterwards the cry was heard, “We LIKE who we ARE!”

We were able to acknowledge that we are broken, imperfect, and recovering human beings who don’t really have the courage to embrace the postmodern image of church. We settled with agreeing to embrace newer technology and social media as a means of better witnessing to who we presently are, and thereby better marketing our traditional image of church, which has value and meaning for us.

A Way Forward

It is good to appreciate who we are, and to value what we do. There is meaning in the manner in which we presently live out our faith as St Andrew’s Church in Newlands. We do serve each other; we do serve the world, substantially. The future of St Andrew’s, however, lies in the postmodern image of church.

                This is a paradox we need to begin to embrace, and live. The gift of the postmodernity is its willingness to hold the both/and in tension and to live with the paradox this creates. This gives us space to acknowledge our formation in and our enjoyment of the traditional image of church; and yet desire to become relevant for the sake of Christ in the increasingly postmodern world that surrounds us and forms our children.

                We discovered on the weekend away in Volmoed that there are some tools to help us begin this journey. Eddie Gibbs was useful here, “The response to Christian witness to a person enmeshed in postmodern categories must be that of the fellow traveller” (page 29). We don’t have to have the answers, we don’t need to be the expert; we are only required to be fellow-travellers with those who journey with us through the breadth of our lives; and we need to journey with honesty and authenticity, allowing our witness to Christ to be marked with vulnerability and humility.

                Who has God placed alongside you? Who are your fellow travellers? How are you demonstrating honesty and authenticity in these relationships?

Blessings
                Mark

Rector's Report to Annual Vestry 2016: St Andrew's Church, Newlands

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46-47 NLTse

Introduction

Amazingly, this is my third Rector's report to Annual Vestry. The last twenty-eight months appear to have flown by, which is quite possibly a good thing and a sign that we are an active and alive community. There are always milestones that mark the journey, of which tonight's meeting is an important one as we take stock of where we are spiritually and materially as an Anglican community of Faith in this part of Cape Town.

Thank you

Looking back over 2015 my thanks to you all for the manner in which you continue to embrace Dawn and I, and for your ongoing commitment to the work of God in and through this Parish community. My special thanks to Dawn who continues to support and encourage me on so many levels both personally and professionally, whose unstinting love and care keeps me centered and focused. My grateful thanks to our Parish Secretary, Bev Shaw, whose patience and resourcefulness appears to know few limits, even in the midst of Morning Market frenzy! I am thankful for each one of you, and especially those who have stepped forward and give leadership to one or other aspect of our Church life, and who include others in the process. My particular thanks to our outgoing Churchwardens and members of Parish Council for your willingness to share your insight and wisdom, and in helping give direction to our common life; and to our (retired) assisting Clergy and our Layministers for your ongoing commitment to our worship and pastoral care; and to our Finance team for ensuring we are responsible with Parish resources. Thanks, too, to the many in our midst who serve without expectation of acknowledgment or reward except knowing that God sees your gift to us.

2015

One of the main challenges of 2015 was an administrative one: the creation of a treasury team to pick up the responsibilities previously handled by Noel Peagam. My thanks to Frya Griffiths, Bev Shaw, and Simon Gilbert, for the exemplary manner in which they have ensured that the new financial systems, controls, and communication structures are now in place. I am appreciative of our Auditor, André Jager, staying on to oversee these changes.

2015 saw a Parish Weekend away at Volmoed, a good opportunity to reflect, pray, and share together for those who were able to attend; the return of the marriage course - a wonderful gift for marital renewal - attended by a number of Parish couples, including one couple who returned for a "refresher"; the Morning Market again reaching new heights in terms of effort and income; a series of Quiet Mornings offering a wonderful breadth of spiritual input, alongside our Lent Course that offered refreshing insights into the Apostles' Creed, and a Stewardship Course that got us thinking more broadly. Additionally, the Sunday 07:30 congregation has transitioned to only using A Common Book of Prayer  (SAPB) once a month, embracing the liturgy of An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 more fully; our monthly Sunday evening Family-focused Service has found traction, and the regular attendance during term-time by the St Cyprian's Boarders has brought new life to Sunday evenings as a whole. Home groups, Children's Church, our midweek services, Thursday Prayers, ad hoc Youth events and other "normal" aspects of Parish life have also continued - together with all the above - enabling us to give life to our wider mission, as well as to our vision to be a community "serving each other; serving the world".

2016

As a Parish we are experiencing a shift as older parishioners and those who have served our community in leadership positions over the last couple of decades, are indicating their need to step aside and allow space for a younger generation to step up to the plate. Since my appointment as Rector, Noel Peagam had the courage to lead the way, and Freya Griffiths reflected that courage in accepting the position of Honorary Treasurer; Graham Michael has followed suit and Jim te Water Naude has courageously stepped in to facilitate the 2016 Morning Market. Stepping aside and creating space for others, even if not always necessarily "younger" others, requires a special level of self-confidence and willingness to acknowledge that one is not indispensable and that perhaps God wishes to use one in other spaces. Thus the process continues, enabling us tonight to acknowledge AndrĂ© Jager as he steps down as Auditor, and Jill Joslin who has stepped aside as our Prayer coordinator (both after many years of faithful service), and we thank Doug and Rosemary Wallace for being willing to step in to these respective responsibilities.  We are not unusual in experiencing this "generational shift", and the challenge is for younger generations here at St Andrew's to step forward. The Tough's, Faure's, Coombe's, Zwicky's, Freya Griffiths and Lauric Bakomito (amongst others) have shown us in recent years that it is possible to have young families and/or demanding and burgeoning professional careers and still contribute meaningfully as Churchwarden, Treasurer or Parish Councilor. I do pray that by the end of tonight's Vestry meeting others will have had similar courage and we will be able to complete the election of Churchwardens, Parish Councilors and various representatives.

In my 2015 report I reflected on our growing awareness that while our mission statement finds substantial traction through our Ministry to the Needy and we have a considerable impact on individuals, families and communities less resourced than ourselves, we also need to focus on caring for each other. The tag-line, "serving each other; serving the world", reflects this growing awareness. One of the outcomes of participating in the Diocesan Stewardship Course during October last year was that we identified a need to become more personally involved in our outreach activities, leading to SA-Yes being invited to address our inaugural Parish Breakfast on the possibility of our being involved with them in youth mentorship, specifically of young people preparing to engage with the adult world after time spent in various Children's and Youth homes. This year's Sunday interaction with the Gospel of Luke, alongside the focus of our 2016 Lent Course People of the Way, is encouraging us to be aware of those on the outskirts of society, and to become more aware of who we do not "see" in our own community, to become more conscious of being friendly and caring toward each other, and especially of new-comers and visitors in our midst.

Our Future

Being "Church" in the 21st century, and in the context of the social, economic and political climate in South Africa, is challenging. Re-imagining ourselves and seeking to understand God's purposes for us in today's fast-changing and often dislocated society - and the accompanying uncertainty - is confusing, to say the least. Perhaps it is sufficient in these times just to seek to "be", and in "being" to allow God to work in us and through us.

On a practical level, we need to make decisions on where we go with our building programme as we do not yet have sufficient funds to give full go-ahead to the project, and the Building Committee Chairperson, David Sykes, will make a proposal in this regard. We are in a process with Kildare Pre-Primary School in negotiating a new long-term lease, a complex discussion linked to our building plans.

While these are of practical concern, they are linked to our vision and reflect something of how we perceive ourselves as God's people in Newlands; and what we perceive our purpose to be. We have a strong  commitment through our Ministry to the Needy to communities less resourced than ourselves, but I am not sure that we have any clear sense of our purpose and God's call on us to the well resourced community of Newlands and surrounds in which God has placed us.

This may be the challenge for 2016: to define our local role and ministry.

MARK R D LONG
Rector
7 March 2016

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Why attend Annual Vestry

Dear Friends

Our Annual Vestry takes place on Monday 7 March 2016 at 19:30 in the Church Hall. We will receive reports on Parish life during 2015, make decisions that will affect Parish life during 2016, and elect new Churchwardens and Parish Councillors, along with Archdeaconry and Diocesan representatives.

Should you attend?

The Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (and affirmed in the Acts of the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town) require that "The Parishioners of the Parish shall meet in Vestry ... at least once every calendar year not later than the 15th of March" (Canon 27).

The Canon goes on to say, "By Parishioner shall be understood any person ... who either is on the list of confirmed Communicants ... or ... being baptised, and not being a member of any other religious body, is an habitual worshipper in the Church ... of the Pastoral Charge in respect of which a vote is claimed."

What is the purpose of the annual Vestry meeting?

We look back and we look forward. We look back over the preceding year, which is done primarily via a report from the Churchwardens on the year's activities, supplemented by additional reports from various Church activity groups, along with an audited report of the state of the Church finances. Looking forward is the primary function of the Rector's report along with what the Canon describes as, "the care ... of the Parish in matters affecting worship, stewardship, ministry, education, evangelism, unity, development and social responsibility." In looking forward we set the tone and direction of Parish life for the year that lies ahead. Decisions taken by the Vestry are binding on the Church Council.

The other role of the annual Vestry meeting is the election of two Churchwardens and an Alternate, Parish Councillors (at least five), two Synod representatives and alternates with an additional representative under the age of 25, and three Archdeaconry Council representatives.

Who may we nominate as Churchwardens?

Canon 29 requires that, "Every Churchwarden ... within this Province shall be a confirmed Communicant of the age of twenty-one years and upwards" and further stipulates that, "They shall be elected by the majority of Parishioners present and voting, with the subsequent agreement of the Incumbent [Rector]." The precedent for voting, set by Provincial Synod, is that each person present will have two votes (as we are electing two Churchwardens), resulting in the nominated persons gaining the two highest votes becoming Churchwardens, and the person receiving the third highest votes automatically becoming the Alternate Churchwarden.

At St Andrew's we have a long-standing policy that Churchwardens should have a limited tenure (tenure is not limited by Canon 29) of three to four years in order to encourage others to step forward into leadership. To ensure that we do not break Canon 29 in implementing this policy, there are two options: the first is for those individuals who have served us as Churchwardens for an extended period to refuse nomination; the other is for Parishioners present at the Vestry meeting to exercise their vote in such a manner as to ensure that this policy finds traction. Also it is useful, but not required by Canon 29, that those nominated for Churchwarden have had recent experience on Parish Council. We need three or more people nominated!

Who may we nominate for Parish Council (and as Synod and Archdeaconry Council representatives)?

Anyone who fits the definition of "Parishioner" (above) and is a confirmed communicant is eligible for nomination and subsequent election. Vestry decides on the number of Councilors to be elected. Again as per the precedent set by Provincial Synod, if the number of people nominated exceeds the number decided upon, a vote will be taken. If the number of nominations equals or is less than the number decided upon, then those nominated will be deemed to be elected.

Please note that those nominated for Churchwarden, if not elected, are not automatically nominated for Parish Council. They need to be nominated separately for both.

What are the roles and responsibilities of those elected?

Those nominated and are subsequently elected as Churchwarden will be required to attend at least a monthly Parish Executive meeting and a monthly Parish Council meeting, two Archdeaconry Council meetings during the year, an annual Diocesan Budget meeting, and any other ad hoc meetings requested of you by the Rector, Archdeacon or Bishop.

Those nominated and subsequently elected for Parish Council will need to be available for a monthly Parish Council meeting, and be willing to pick up some form of portfolio commitment as a member of the Council. Synod and Archdeaconry representatives need to be available to attend monthly Parish Council meetings, attend Diocesan Synod (Synod reps) or Archdeaconry Council (Archdeaconry Council reps).

How can we access a copy of the Constitution and Canons, and the Acts of the Diocese of Cape Town?

A full description of responsibilities for Churchwarden and Parish Councillor can be found in Canons 28 (of Parish Councils) and 29 (of Churchwardens and Chapel Wardens), and a full copy of these can be requested from the Church Office, as can a full copy of the Canons and Constitution of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Acts of the Diocese of Cape Town.

Hopefully the above information gives you sufficient understanding of what the annual Vestry meeting is all about, and sufficient encouragement to attend!

I look forward to your participation and involvement, and pray that if you are approached for nomination to any of the above positions you may have the courage to allow your name to go forward for election.

Blessings
Mark

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Lent Course 2016: People of the Way

Dear Friends

Our Lent Course begins on Tuesday 16 February 2016 from 19:30 to 20:45. For those who find evenings challenging, a repeat will be offered on Wednesday mornings from 10:45 to 12:00.

You are welcome to invite friends and family to join us.

The format of each session is a DVD presentation followed by discussion and prayerful reflection. There are 7 sessions, the last of which will be a focus of our Good Friday Service.

"People of the Way" is an exciting, fresh look at what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ, to be people who follow Jesus on the way in the 21st century. Each episode has a teaching segment that investigates a particular aspect of discipleship and it tells a story of how that expression of discipleship is lived out in concrete ways in the lives of Christians in the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg. These stories are the most exciting part of "People of the Way" for they provide compelling and inspiring examples of how Jesus' call to follow Him on the Way is lived out in a contemporary urban African context.

Tuesday 16 February - People of the Way

Tuesday 23 February - Jesus' vision of the Way

Tuesday 1 March - The Call to the Way

Tuesday 8 March - A Spirituality of the Way

Tuesday 15 March - The Way is a Life of Service

Tuesday 22 March - The Way is for the World

Friday 25 March (Good Friday) - The Way leads to Jerusalem

Please fill in the list at the back of the Church, or inform the Church Office, if you will be attending.

Blessings
Mark