Thursday, 26 October 2017

Spring Newsletter 2017: Article

Dear Friends

Investing in the Future

I am struck that as the Western Cape embraces Spring in the midst of the present crippling drought that living is not for the fainthearted. Despite the low rainfall the Spring flowers still open, and with them our spirits lift. It takes courage to embrace the challenges that life places before us, and to not be diverted from the opportunities for growth that continue to exist. Humanity has an amazing ability to reach towards a greater vision despite the chaos of the present moment. This was true of Europe after World War II, true of South Africa in 1994, and it remains true of us as South Africans: despite the daily revelations of corruption and wrong-doing, not just in Government but in collusion between Government and Business interests – both of which should be trustworthy – there is a greater vision of what South Africa is and can be. The vision dims, but it is not destroyed.

St Andrew’s: a Future

What of our St Andrew’s vision for the future embodied in our proposed Building Project? In the last eighteen months we have grown the funds dedicated to this project from R2 million to just over R5 million. This is an amazing achievement: individuals and families have made some very generous donations via the Buy-a-Block initiative; individuals have got together to contribute by organising a number of fun and successful fundraising events and concerts that have enabled us all to contribute in some way; others have committed to monthly or annual ongoing contributions. As we will explore at our upcoming Vestry on 9 October 2017 we are sitting – to use a rugby analogy – just over the half-way line and there is still some ground to be won before the try-line is in reach: a dropkick or two are needed, and the Fundraising Committee has a game plan in hand for this (to be discussed at our Vestry meeting). To mix sporting metaphors at this point, we need to ensure we don’t score an own-goal at this critical point in the game!

Game Plan: Building Project

A game plan is driven by an overall vision of what we wish to achieve. As time passes and the context of the game changes it is easy to lose sight of what we sought originally to achieve. We have a long-time commitment as the Newlands Village Church to offering educational facilities and opportunities to the local community stretching back into the mid-Nineteenth century, and our present project seeks to maintain this historic commitment. The present School building was originally built in the 1950’s to serve the working-class families of Newlands Village and at its fullest held 257 learners. The school was built with loans that rental from the early years of the present Kildare Pre-Primary helped settle after the demise of Newlands Village (due to the enforced removals in the early 1960’s, which caused the closure of the original Kildare Road School at the end of 1966). During 1967 the building was refurbished with funds raised from the sale of the cemetery across the river, with three of the classrooms converted into our present Church Hall. In January 1968 Kildare Pre-Primary opened with 40 children, and it was only in 1994 – due to changes in the Education Act – that the Church and School administration were separated with the Rector ceasing to chair the School Board. It is worth noting that through the 1970’s and 1980’s St Andrew’s relied almost completely on the rental from Kildare Pre-primary School for financial survival; and it was only in 1991, when the Parish embraced Dedicated Giving, that the school rental was freed up for development and maintenance, morphing earlier this century into funding a healthy percentage of our Outreach initiatives (Ministry to The Needy).

Our Building Project – as presently proposed – seeks to uphold education as a core mission and ministry focus and commitment to the local community, no matter the nature of that community.

The other driving elements of our vision for this Project are our own needs as a faith community: we need a Church Hall that is more easily accessible. This accessibility has three focii: easier access to the Hall from the Church building, and easier access to the Hall on weekdays, along with dedicated spaces for youth ministry (which under Elizabeth and Jess’ watch is growing again). Access to the Hall in the mornings will enable us to increase our ministry to the elderly and retired in our community for whom mornings are a better option to evening gatherings, along with opportunities to make our Hall and meeting spaces available to the wider community when not needed by us. While pressure on the parking will always be an issue, there are four hours available from 08:30 to 12:30 every morning between school drop-off/pick-up times. Easier access from the carpark and from the Church will all add to a fuller sense of cohesion on Sundays - especially for our children - and offer more pleasant facilities for fellowship and other social events.

The journey has proved more complex than expected when a potential building project was first discussed some ten or more years ago. Fatigue sets in, doubts set in. This is not unusual for an extended journey towards a future as yet unseen. We are people of faith!

Intentional Engagement

We all need to engage intentionally with this vision. Our Vestry meeting in October is a critical point on this journey, and if you have any desire whatsoever to engage with the future of St Andrew’s we need you present at this meeting, please.

Investment in the vision is crucial, both financially and spiritually. If you have already contributed funds towards this project, are you able to commit further? If you’ve been on the sidelines – watching and waiting (as we all do on one level or another) – are you willing to join the game? Do you have access to potential external sources of funding that we can draw on? Do you have an idea for a fundraising event? Have you considered a codicil to you Will?

And are you praying? Is this vision part of your personal times of prayer and reflection? Please pray!

Sisters and brothers, the time is now.

Blessings
Mark

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