Image: Anne, Andrew and Naomi in the church hall. Painting in background by Catherine Skipper (photo by Dalcy).

Minister’s Report

Redacted Report to Church Council
November 19, 2022

“It’s like we’re standing in a circle of friends before Christ. Usually we speak to Christ directly, but sometimes we’ll turn to another member of the circle and ask for support … Such connections don’t diminish our relationship with Christ; if anything, the friendships we form with others who love Christ, whether living or departed, enrich and strengthen our faith” (Frederica Mathewes-Green, Welcome to the Orthodox Church).

“A good faith conversation begins with curiosity. It looks for common ground while making room for disagreement. It should be primarily about exchange of thoughts and information rather than instruction, and it affords us, among other things, the great privilege of being wrong; we feel supported in our unknowing and, in the sincere spirit of inquiry, free to move around the sometimes treacherous waters of ideas. A good faith conversation strengthens our better ideas and challenges, and hopefully corrects, our low-quality or unsound ideas … It can be illuminating, rewarding and of great value – a good faith conversation begins with curiosity, gropes toward awakening and retires in mercy” (Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files).

Thanks to all who took part in our most recent conversation (in response to a paper by the Rev. Dr Garry Worete Deverell). The webpost is a valuable resource for working groups and Futures Task Group – for all of us – as we seek ways to enact the covenant with the UAICC and “local mob” … Regarding partnerships, a priority.

2.1. Big thanks to Greg for consistent, scholarly and prayerful leadership. Lectio Divina meditations have been especially rich and rewarding.

2.2. Liturgy Resource groups continue to create excellent resources for worship. Thanks to Ruth for sharing skills in Auslan, and all for new prayers and blessings.

Abner, thank you for leading this month. It’s good to have this activity happening again in the church – with new friends and new compositions.

4.1. Vale Catherine Scott. Prayers with Hazelbrook Uniting Church where memorial prayers will be part of the liturgy this Sunday at 9.30am …

4.2. Vale Janet Mary Macklan (1957-2022), late of Albert Street, neighbour to Miriam and Dave. A memorial gathering will be held at 6.30pm on Monday in Albert Street.

4.3. Our recent pastoral care meetings made use of a case study on teamwork (short meditation and a reading from Luke 5:17-26). The case study inspired the following guidelines to assist ongoing cooperation and mutual support in ministry: (1) set focussed goals and timeframe for work together; (2) appoint and support the facilitator/convenor; (3) gather ideas from wide variety of options, select a workable number of ideas; (4) reflect on best practice, ask for assistance when needed; (5) assign roles and tasks clearly, with timelines; (6) review progress and process, offer positive feedback, acknowledgement and thanks.

4.4. The meetings include 30 minutes for prayer. Who would like to lead pastoral care meetings in 2023?

4.5. Uniting’s new McRae-McMahon Place will open in 2023! The state-of-the-art aged care facility in Marion Street, Leichhardt, honours Dorothy’s ministry of radical inclusion, social justice, skills in liturgical theology and mission. It is an honour to minister at South Sydney with Dorothy, who continues to share, listen, pray, create and love.

5.1. In lieu of an Arts working group report, I note that convenor Carolyne has been working very hard to paint ceramic pots, create greeting cards and other items for stalls at Paddington Markets on December 10 and 17. Samanta (Cooperative Youth Opera) has cultivated thyme seedlings for inclusion with the pots. Chris has cultivated two dozen frangipani cuttings for inclusion with tins donated by Kelly. Cathie has donated handcrafted Christmas decorations and other items.

5.2. In other arts news, Catherine and I have met with Danielle Joy Golding to select drawings for her exhibition, Ethical Expressions, which opens at 5pm on December 10.

6.1. The Garden working group will meet on November 19. Progress continues with respect to the new-look garden, thanks to Tuesday morning helpers, and thanks to Iain and Robert from Cana Communities. 

6.2. Next steps: paving, fencing, laying the concrete slab for new shed, building the new coop (thanks to Jasmin, Megan and Andre).

7.1. Our neighbour Murray has created a beautiful banksia wreath for Advent. A precious gift indeed. Dorothy and I have purchased Advent candles, and Liturgy Resource group will consider special prayers for Advent and Christmas – hope, peace, joy, love … birth.

7.2. Our service of readings and carols will be held at 9.30am on Christmas Day, with a picnic lunch in Redfern Park to follow …

8.1. It’s encouraging to meet with new regulars on Sundays. There are 12 new regulars and Miriam and I have enjoyed meeting with some of them in recent days. Actually, these meetings have been inspiring. 

8.2. I’d like to arrange another few meetings with new regulars and elders before the year’s end. Please let me know if you’d like to be part of this.

9.1. Our weekly Sunday gathering might now include time for social interaction. One-on-one and small group conversations at morning tea. Thanks to the Hospitality working group and elders for thoughts on this issue.

9.2. Perhaps following the liturgy, we could share three or so important announcements, then say Grace and present Interlude before morning tea and social time. Distinguishing clearly between announcements and social time would help facilitate relationship-building. An online host/moderator would help ensure safety of online social interaction …

9.3. The Hospitality group will continue to think about fifth-Sunday social events inclusive of in-person and online participation. For our diaries: January 29, 2023 – Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor.

10.1. It would be good to hold a service for Reaffirmations of Baptism and transfers of membership in February as well as Easter next year … 

11.1. The Sydney Presbytery AGM will be held on November 26 in Glebe. The Pastoral Relations Committee invites us to share about life and witness at South Sydney. We have just six minutes for the presentation, after which PRC will speak for two minutes, foreshadowing an extension of placement proposal for the March meeting of presbytery.

11.2. Our presentation structure could make use of our church website: Congregation (two minutes); Community (two minutes); Garden (two minutes). I imagine a tightly scripted presentation for two or three voices (embodying numerous voices), with projected photos and other images and a sung prayer to finish (the Lord’s Prayer led by Norrie on ukulele). Thanks to Miriam, Cathie, Lyn, Norrie and Abner for willingness to contribute. 

11.3. We have a brilliant collection of stories curated by Cathie as part of the UME’s mission planning process. From these we might glean diverse testimony to faith, hope and love at SSUC … with the permission of individual story-tellers/witnesses.

During Advent.

13.1. Intan and Nigel have been attending worship services for more than six months. They would like to be married in our church on February 18, 2023, at 11am, with a reception in the hall to follow. Nigel and Intan imagine a wedding with 30 or so guests. 

13.2. I have met with Intan and Nigel for an initial conversation and received an intention to marry form. I am more than happy to meet with them again for follow-up wedding preparation and planning. I’d like to invite an elder to join us for at least one of these meetings. Our next scheduled meeting is 11am on December 1.

Proposal: That Intan and Nigel’s wedding be held in the church on February 18, 2023, from 11am. Also that a rehearsal be held in the church on Friday February 17, from 2pm (with time to decorate and prepare the church and hall).

The Rev. Dr Peter Walker will preach on December 4. And the Rev. Tau’alofa Anga’aelangi on December 11. I’m keen to invite guest preachers to visit more regularly in 2023.

15.1. I will prepare a liturgy for use throughout the season of Epiphany – and encourage leaders to volunteer for roles on the worship roster (December and January pages are now online:

15.2. Melinda has offered to preach on January 29.

15.3. I have invited a number of preachers including Pastor Nadine Rozario, Revs Danielle and Trish from Paddington, Nicole Fleming, Brian Woodhouse, William Emilsen, James Aaron and Lindsay Cullen to preach on January 1, 8, 15 and 22. I will follow up in coming days. There may be opportunity for guest liturgists and presider, too.

I would like to request annual leave from December 30 until January 27 (inclusive). 

I will meet with a new supervisor in December. Sally Langley is a pastor, retreat leader, spiritual director and supervisor based at the Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Centre in St Ives. Sally is also an author whose books, including Christian Meditation: Five Different Ways to Pray and Walking the Labyrinth as the Beloved in John’s Gospel, I will certainly read.

Grace and peace,