Image: Quinn prepares to help lead the singing as people gather for Sunday worship. We welcomed ABC-TV crew for a Compass special on sacred spaces (see 12.1ff).

Minister’s Report

Redacted Report to Church Council
July 2, 2022

“The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no value depending on my mood; but is bodied all over against me and has to do with me, as I with it – only in a different way” (Idris Murphy).

1. VALE MARGARET VAZEY (January 18, 1939 – June 10, 2022)
1.1. I begin with Marg who loved trees and cared deeply for us. I give thanks for her life and leadership, her sense of wonder and her friendship. Marg’s vision of SSUC as a “cultural centre” lives on – we might hear our mission statement a little differently now, recognising her voice in various lines; we might see anew what it means to be a congregation-community-garden.

1.2. Thanks to all for helping with care for Marg and family members – in and through art and poetry, recreational walks, multi-sensory worship, home and hospital visits; on the day of Marg’s funeral and the days after.

1.3. Four Wordplay poets will complete a 10-section collaborative work, responding to stanzas Marg shared with Robyn in her last days. Catherine’s poem “for Margaret” is a gift for us all: “the fall of leaves / is late this year / it seems they waited / for her who held / all nature dear / but now bare branches / grieve their forfeiture / and it is our Margaret / whom they mourn for.”

1.4. The July issue of the SSH will feature an obituary for Marg. We will also create a remembrance page on our church website.

2.1. Cathie’s struggle with complex health issues goes on. We continue in prayer for our friend and congregational chairperson –  … It is uplifting/life-giving to pray and sing together on Sundays – and to share news and announcements over morning tea. Cathie, thank you for committing to us. 

2.2. Andy completed his student placement with us on Easter Day. In my final report to the Synod Formation Panel I wrote: “Andy has established relationships of trust. He has shown genuine interest in the lives of church members and friends – he has volunteered for diverse tasks, from preaching and leading liturgy to serving morning tea and overseeing Covid-safe protocols. His leadership in our community garden space is deeply appreciated.”

2.3. Pamela has given prayerful thought to ongoing pastoral care practice at SSUC and the two of us will meet on June 30 to discuss a way forward for elders/carers. Thanks to Pamela for leading, guiding and continuing to pray with and for us. 

2.4. Pamela has capacity to continue as Liturgist and Reader as per worship roster. She is also keen to offer occasional input to Pastoral Care meetings.

2.5. Pamela and Andrew see monthly Pastoral Care meetings (on the 2nd Saturday, 10am-12pm) in hybrid mode (hall and via Zoom) from August 2022. Invitation to elders and ministers, as well as leaders (Naomi, Eli, Pamela … Dalcy/Karen). Andrew will take responsibility for meeting but elders and leaders invited to give input re sessions and themes.

2.6. Format of meetings to follow regular practice: theological input; personal sharing and prayer.

2.7. The monthly Pastoral Care meeting in conjunction with weekly Vespers and yearly Retreat. Convenors of working groups also invited to attend Retreat.

2.8. We rejoice in the news that Melinda’s call to ordained ministry was affirmed by a full meeting of the presbytery in May. 

2.9. We rejoice that Dalcy and Karen reaffirmed their baptisms at Pentecost (thanks to Pamela for research and suggesting the symbolic use of rose petals).

2.10. Jane and Polly have requested reaffirmations of baptism at Yarra Bay (La Perouse) as part of relationship-building with First Peoples and the Reconciliation Church (Aboriginal Catholic Ministry). Aunty Norma is willing to assist with introduction to local elders.

2.11. The wedding of Yusa and Anthony was a happy occasion, and I was honoured to sing a (Bob Dylan) song with Miriam as the happy couple made their way down the aisle! Meeting family and friends of Anthony and Yusa was a highlight of recent months.

2.12. I was honoured to visit the Darlington home of Ruth and Brett on May 13 to share in memorial prayers for Ruth’s mother, Patricia. Family members, including close friend Jody, remembered a wise carer and teacher. Chris Lodge’s prayer for Mother’s Day was much appreciated.

2.11. Raglan Street neighbour, SSH volunteer and Wordplay poet Yvonne’s 82nd birthday party in the hall on June 3 saw a gathering of family and neighbours with music and merriment – another highlight!

3.1. Our Sunday worship centres diverse community life in prayer and thanksgiving – we receive the Word we need, the nourishment we need. Thanks to all elders and leaders for contribution as liturgists, musicians and singers, preachers, tech hosts, projectionists, readers, servers and safe gathering facilitators. Thanks to Miriam and Megan for helping to train tech hosts. Please check the worship roster regularly for opportunities.

3.2. Preachers in April-June included Melinda Kearns and the Rev. Dr Peter Walker (principal of United Theological College).

3.3. Our worship continues in hybrid mode, with a celebration of the Eucharist on the 3rd Sunday. Musical interludes help to transition from liturgy to morning tea and announcements. Thanks to Cathie for recent suggestions, which will also be included in the weekly eVine.

3.4. Thanks to Eli for continuing to provide gluten-free bread for our Eucharist.

4.1. Gospel Conversation is held on the 1st Sunday and 2nd Thursday. Resources can be found on the church website. Recent studies: “Tempted/tested by greed, power and pride” (Lent); “How do we show our devotion?” (Lent); and “Greater works than these” (Easter/Pentecost). 

4.2. Our July study will focus on the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Our format makes use of three approaches to religion/reading: Poetics (What qualities of language or expression do we notice? Are there key words, phrases or images? What is the tone or feeling of the text?); Ethics (Whose calls for help, whose calls to justice do we perceive? How will we respond?); Metaphysics (Are we offered insights regarding the world? How might we describe or come to experience this world we live in?).

4.3. Friends from Paddington UCA will rejoin soon for Gospel Conversation on a 2nd Thursday. The Rev. Trish Rooney (Deacon) will be inducted to ministry at Paddington UCA on Saturday July 16, 11am.

4.4. Thanks to Miriam for devising and leading excellent Liturgy Resource group sessions (3rd Sunday) in recent months (calls to worship and dismissals). Engaging the scriptures and composing prayers together is richly rewarding (and fun). Prayer is primary theology (lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi).

4.5. Andy and Greg have led wonderful meditations in recent months. Our Lectio Divina meditation in July will be led by Greg. I was inspired to share a Visio Divina meditation with the Leura UCA Retreat Group on June 4.

4.6. Music Selections continue to surprise and sustain. There is scope for diverse musical expression in worship, including familiar hymns and songs, new and original compositions, chants and prayer settings. Thanks to all our musicians. Please let Heather or Miriam know if you’d like to be involved. We welcome singers, percussionists, guitarists and ukulelists, players of brass and woodwind instruments … 

4.7. It has not been possible to hold Music Jam (3rd Fridays at 3pm) in May or June, but I look forward to a jam session on July 15. Please let me know if you’re interested to join or lead.

5.1. Our liturgy of Vespers (evening prayer) is simple and traditional. Miriam has led Vespers on the 3rd Wednesday – we light a candle and meet online via Zoom, 6 for 6.15pm start (15 minutes for greetings and allocating roles). Vespers is an opportunity to maintain prayer for our parish and world, to give thanks for the blessings of the day. It would be preferable if Vespers were held weekly. Regular participants will consider this. See church website for liturgy and Zoom link.

6.1. Our children’s activities table works very well. It offers a means of welcoming and including children in worship. Thanks to Anne and Naomi for ensuring there are always art and craft materials at hand. 

6.2. I’m keen to develop skills re integrating liturgical prayers and readings, sacraments and children’s activities. Announcing a simple theme at the start of worship, and inviting young artists to engage the theme by way of making prayer cards may prove effective – especially if done in a way that appeals to children of all ages. Faith/prayer can be expressed through colours, shapes, pictures, textures, symbols, words, Bible verses … and be of benefit to all. Please let me know if you have ideas to contribute.

7.1. I’m keen to organise a spiritual retreat for all elders in August or September and have renewed contact with the Mobile Team at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre (“accompanying Jesus in his life, death and resurrection … finding God in all things”). I’ve asked the Rev. Brian Woodhouse for help with booking a Uniting venue in the inner west (perhaps Lilyfield).

7.2. Please let me know your thoughts regarding retreat themes. I’m thinking a Saturday would be apt, 10am to 3pm. TBC.

7.3. Retreat leader will be Debbie dela Paz.

8.1. On Easter Saturday 2021 our liturgy included a creative activity – weaving textured bands of black cloth on the loom (thanks Abner and Brian). Lyn has since stitched together the woven bands, which represent corporate grief, and stabilised the cloth.

8.2. On Easter Day 2022 our liturgy included a creative activity – drawing shapes inspired by native flowers. Jane has since made large and small tracings of the shapes, and our artist-in-residence Catherine will create a composition symbolising new life. We can then consider cutting out shapes in lilac, lime and fuchsia felt (thanks Cathie), and stitching/embroidering to toile overlay. 

8.3. The banner can be installed in the church as an expression of faith in resurrection, and hope for justice in solidarity with First Peoples (acknowledging the reference to a lilac, lime and fuchsia flag in Jazz Money’s 2021 poem, “we rise”).

9.1. The Rev. Dr Dean and Judy Eland (ministers at SSUC in the 1970s, now at Pilgrim UCA in Adelaide) will join us for Sunday worship on July 10. They will be part of a group attending a mission conference (Australian Association for Mission Studies) at Morling College in Macquarie Park.

9.2. Following worship, the conference group (10-15 people) will embark on a walking tour of Waterloo and Redfern, with a focus on sites of missional interest including local churches, Aboriginal services, and housing estates. Lyn and Geoff Turnbull will take part in the walking tour. I have invited Aunty Norma to take part as an elder and guide. Please let me know if you’d like to join.

10.1. Dorothy has kindly donated some liturgical treasures including small Indigenous paintings which might be displayed on the side altar as an invitation to prayer during Ordinary Time.

10.2. Thanks to Dorothy for continued commitment to SSUC – as liturgist and pastoral carer, advocate for human rights, faith editor and friend. We rejoice in Dorothy’s recovery following admission to hospital earlier this year, and we’re so happy she has such a beautiful new home in Leichhardt. 

10.3. Dorothy is keen to remain involved in ministry with us, and would like to attend church council meetings as a pastoral and theological listener – a crucial role as we consider best options for the congregation in coming months.

11.1. The website is working well. Please let me know if there are pages or features you’d like to see. Our designer Robert Young will add a prominent donation button to the homepage. This will function in the same way as Pin Payment buttons on the SSH site (allowing supporters to donate using credit cards). 

11.2. We currently have Instagram and Facebook accounts dedicated to the SSH; Facebook pages for SSUC; Instagram accounts dedicated to the Orchard Gallery and Eden Garden. The Instagram account @sundayssuc contains 434 images (mostly liturgical) posted during Covid lockdowns. I’d love to hear any thoughts on creative ways to commemorate this significant period in the history of the parish.

11.3. We currently have 76 subscribers to our weekly eVine newsletter. With thanks to Alicia, Miriam and Cathie for attention and contributions – notices, photos, poems, reflections, music clips … Ideally, a small group (3-4 people) might commit to working together on the weekly eVine. The work would entail gathering news items (from working groups and wider church) and compiling a Word document (on Tuesday evenings) for Alicia to upload and send via Mailchimp (on Wednesday evenings). There is a template for the Word document. A couple of people have expressed interest and I will follow up in coming weeks. Please let me know if you’d like to help.

11.4. On the Vine quarterly issues are edited and designed by Pamela. They are available for download.

12.1. ABC-TV’s Compass program is planning an episode of its “sacred spaces” series with a focus on Julie McCrossin. Julie has nominated SSUC as a sacred space and spiritual home, and the producers are keen to visit us on Sunday July 17. Julie aims to attend the worship service in person that day – she would like to be the gospel reader. 

12.2. The episode would include footage of Julie as tech host in Adelaide, as well as stills showing Julie and Melissa’s blessing service at SSUC (May 2014), Julie launching Dorothy’s book, Conversations with Ali, and other images of life at SSUC – the garden, SSH, arts and music.

12.3. The event promises much excitement and positive promotion of our ministries (the episode will air in early 2023). We would need to ensure, of course, that people unwilling to be filmed were able to sit away from the cameras (we could set aside a couple of pews for this). 

12.4. I’d be keen to consult with Julie and the program researcher, Mary Tran, toward preparations for the filming. I’d also check with our exhibiting artist regarding copyright/accreditation.

13.1. I continue to enjoy mentoring Gloria (Mascot Beckenham UCA) as part of her Period of Discernment (which she aims to conclude in December). Gloria, who was a Blak & Blu prize-winner in 2021, is completing watercolour artworks in response to all 150 psalms. She has just completed 90 artworks! The suite of paintings will comprise a valuable spiritual resource. I imagine various applications.

14.1. It’s very hard to imagine my placement ending (the placement will end in March 2023) – sharing in ministry at SSUC has always been deeply rewarding. I continue to feel very blessed here.

14.2. In the context of challenges and changes (within and without SSUC), and ongoing consultations with synod and presbytery, I am open to serving in whatever way is most helpful to the congregation and wider church. Whatever decisions are made, I hold you all in my heart and prayers.

Grace and peace,