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.
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.
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".
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 André 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.
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
Rector7 March 2016