July 2017

 Greetings everyone

  Sabbatical:  Since returning from Sabbatical I’ve hit the ground running and sabbatical may have become something of a blur except for those nuggets of pure gold that I know are going to influence the next steps in my ministry. I had three broad areas that I wanted to focus on during this Sabbatical.

  Firstly: I wanted to explore relationships between Bishops and Cathedrals because of the special relationship that has developed with the Cathedral here over the past year or two, and looking at different governance/management models that are in place in different provinces around the world. Sadly, most of the learning came out of very negative relationships that many Bishops are experiencing overseas. At the risk of over-generalising (or over-simplifying) the situation, it seems as though Bishops (by their ordination vows) are called to be guardians of the faith while Cathedrals (to one degree or another) believe they exist to guard the tradition and the two may not be one-and-the-same. I have more work to do processing my thoughts and observations – but it has certainly been a very enlightening study.

  Secondly: the opportunity to attend the Alpha leadership conference hosted by Holy Trinity, Brompton was a watershed. The interviews with Cardinal Luis Tagle (Cardinal Archbishop of the Philippines) and Jean Vanier (L’Arché) touched me very deeply. It wasn’t so much the content of what they shared, as much as the grace, the humility, the honesty, the simplicity and the faith that they both radiated. They were profoundly moving interviews.  In a total contrast of style and content was the interview (and the workshop) that Hilary and I attended taken by Simon Sinek – a marketing consultant, motivational speaker and author.  In his mid-forties, Sinek had been through an intense time of self-reflection that led him to reconsider the whole issue of leadership. This culminated in his book ‘It All Begins with Why’, which was at the heart of his two presentations. He challenged all my preconceived thoughts on leadership and my own personal understanding and practice of strategic planning. In a nutshell – much of what passes for strategic planning answers the two questions ‘what is it that we do’ and ‘how do we do it’. Sinek suggests that there is an even more important question – one that is always addressed first by exceptional leaders – ‘why are we doing it’. What is the big vision/dream that gets us up in the morning inspired and excited to get on with the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ - This is the ‘Why.’ I’d certainly encourage all clergy to get this book – and also to watch his TED talk which is one of the most popular of all TED talks.

  Thirdly: It was a time to reflect on my own ministry and my own spiritual temperature. Taking time out to do this should be a part of every clergy person’s routine. Most of us need guidance to do this – to have someone we can be accountable to; someone who we trust to talk through our fears and our doubts (particularly our self-doubts). ‘Clergy self-care’ was the topic given to the keynote speaker at the annual clergy conference in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe (Northern Ireland) at which I was doing the Bible Studies. Led by an Episcopalian priest from the Diocese of Florida (Rev Dr Rob Lord) they were presentations that were incredibly timely and when he finally gets around to getting all his thoughts into print, I shall certainly make it recommended reading.

  Thank-you to all who enabled me to take this Sabbatical, particularly those who ‘held the fort’ during these weeks.

  People: I was very sad to receive the news of our former Dean, Nick Kirk’s death. It has been very painful to watch Nick’s deterioration as the motor neurone become more debilitating. And yet, at the same time it has been amazing to watch the love of his family surrounding him and the increasing strength of trust in Jesus that has always been a part of Nick’s life and faith.  I admired his simple, but incredibly deep faith in the reality of Jesus and the exciting presence of God’s Holy Spirit. He just believed so passionately and couldn’t always understand why others didn’t believe in the same way.

  His funeral was a celebration of Nick’s life and faith and it was a privilege to be able to go up to it with Hilary together with Dean Mike Hawke, and Jane Wulff (parish nurse at the Cathedral) – along with Rev Felicity Whitcombe who worked alongside Nick at the Cathedral.  It was an opportunity as well to catch up with Ian and Karen Thatcher who were able to come across from Feilding for the funeral. Our love and prayers are with Kim and all Nick’s family.

  Our prayers are also with Dawn Daunauda as she grieves the death of her dad. Dawn was able to spend quality time with her dad over the last days and has very special memories of him. The funeral is tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) at Marsden House and will be taken by Dean Mike. All our love goes out to Dawn and her sons, Josiah and Michael.

  Everyone will be aware of the imminent retirement of Dean Charles from his role as Elder Care enabler. Charles’ most effective work has been as a support person to the community organisations that protect the rights and concerns of the vulnerable elderly in our midst. We pray for Charles and Elaine in yet another time of transition.

  It is has been a very difficult decision that the Cathedral has had to make to discontinue the position of Priest Assistant because of the downturn in finances. It is interesting that while numbers attending the Cathedral’s services have increased, the finances have decreased. The AGM was alerted to the fact that they were facing a projected deficit of $50,000 but it made no difference in the weeks that followed, so the difficult decision was made and Rev Owen Haring was offered a financial package by the Cathedral Council which he accepted with great grace. Please pray for Owen as he considers his options for the future. In the short-term he is licensed as a non-stipendiary priest to Rev Susan Gill in the parish of Richmond where Owen lives.

  Other: It’s really exciting to see development at Nelson’s Seafarers Mission – particularly the provision of a new building and the amazing support of the Port Company.  This is mainly due to the incredible work of Rev Franz Murbach who has been chaplain to the Mission for far longer than he first agreed to. He has huge energy and passion and has transformed the mission – he makes me tired just watching the vibrancy he has. We wish him every blessing in his ‘retirement!’

  It is well worth reading Russell Smith’s book ‘Mission to the Ends of the Earth.’ He has a great style and it reads more like a novel than the well-researched and presented history book that it actually is.

 He draws you into the characters of these early missionaries. Copies can be obtained through the Anglican Centre office or through Russell.

  Finally a link that you might find challenging or encouraging.  Certainly worth a look.

 http://www.christianweek.org/10-predictions-future-church-shifting-attendance-patterns/

  With every blessing

 +Richard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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