Grace and Peace from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
As we are not having a Vestry this year – I am using this opportunity to give the report that I would have given at Vestry.
I would like to begin by offering my Condolences to all who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, who have lost jobs and income, who have lost friends and for whom isolation has been a sad reality. While we have tried to maintain contact with everyone and provide a support base, I do acknowledge our failures and inadequacies and ask forgiveness from those who feels the church failed them.
For many, 2020 was a year of intense and challenging growth in their faith and some very good things have emerged from the calamity, but we know the cost that it came at. We are grateful to God whose promises have become a reality and our prayer is that more and more people will turn to a true religion – “what God requires of us is this, to love mercy, to seek justice and to walk humbly with our Lord, who desires mercy not sacrifice.”
Scripture says – “My house will be a house of prayer” and the fact that we now follow an Anglican ethos of daily Morning and Evening prayers has been a wonderful blessing and is holding us together as only the Spirit of God can do. The word of God says – “If my people will humble themselves and pray then I will hear from heaven and heal their land.” We have become a house of prayer and will continue to be.
I am grateful to God that we can meet and interact in ways that we never imagined, and I encourage you to join us in this new adventure of community life as a Physical and Digital church.
As a Diocese (the institutional Church) 2020 has been a challenging year and the year ahead holds even more change and adjustment. Going into 2020 the Diocese faced an economic crisis and COVID 19 has further negatively impacted upon the financial sustainability of the Diocese. Various commissions have been established and lots of work has been done to address the situation. The bottom line is that our clergy numbers have been drastically reduced and further cuts are anticipated. A new Bishop has yet to be appointed and a turn around strategy has yet to be developed. Much prayer is needed to address the current situation.
On 11 March 2021, I, and 4 others, were appointed as Senior Priests to act as Archdeacons to replace the 5 that have left the Diocese. This means that my Ministry to the Diocese will change somewhat and I need to explain that, as it affects the Parish too.
As Senior Cleric it will be my duty to support the clergy and Parish Councils of the 12 Parishes that make up the eThekwini South Archdeaconry, namely:
• Amanzimtoti – Good Shepherd,
• Bellair – All Saints with St Marks Hillary,
• Bluff – St Barnabas,
• Chatsworth – The Epiphany,
• Enwabi – St Philip,
• Ezimbokodweni – Kwamakhutua/Folweni/Illovo,
• Kingsburgh- St Mary,
• Lamontville- St Simon of Cyrene,
• Merebank- St Michael & All Angels with Isipingo, St James,
• Umlazi, St Augustine,
• Wentworth- St Gabriel,
• Woodlands with Montclair.
As a Diocese we have adopted a system of Clustering in which Parishes will be manged by a Team Rector (developing on what we have done here at St Mary’s and Good Shepherd). I sit on that Restructuring Committee. Using our experience at St Mary and Good Shepherd it is my intention to work with this Committee to build a Model for use across the Diocese.
As Wentworth is without a Rector, we will begin a process of Clustering with Wentworth, Amanzimtoti and Kingsburgh. Lamontville is also vacant, and I am looking for opportunities for them to Cluster with other parishes too. This system will enable us to strengthen the parishes through collaboration.
The major need is therefore, for the people of God to adopt a mission- based approach and seek ways to work together with other churches to address our financial and ministry challenges. The solutions to the challenges lie on the Parishes and we need to drive the change needed to build the church.
Each of these 12 Parishes need to be managed as an individual, interdependent body and allowed to develop in its own way but work together to build the Kingdom, even where a Team Rector exists. A mindset shift is required.
The Key deliverables for this year will be a revised Ministry Plan and a Parish Charter compiled by the Church Council of each Parish which will be used to determine how the church will be structured going forward.
Digital ministry and what we call Phygital, a combination of Physical and Digital, is part of the new normal and we will need to develop the ministry team and provide the budget to manage this.
I ask for your support and input to make this work.
I am also the acting coordinator of the Diocesan Environmental Network (Creation Care Network) and chair the subcommittee for “ministry to the world” on the Theological Education and Formation Committee. As part of this portfolio, I serve on various community-based organisations to address environmental issues with a specific focus on water. This is driven by the desire to act justly, seek mercy and walk humbly with our God, as we care for God’s creation.
Part of that work also involves supporting the Diaconate ministry of the church and training of laity and clergy.
Building a strong ministry team is my passion and I have had a long hard, prayerful look at this, and how I can better serve the church in this regard. I look forward to more people getting involved as the “Ministry of All believers” as we build a new way of doing church to be contextual and relevant to the world as it emerges from this pandemic and into a glorious future.
My prayer is this, that we will seek the Lord our God while He may be found and that we will grow in ourselves and as a community and live out the Kingdom values and participate with Jesus in what He is doing in the world today.
I wish to end with a vote of thanks to my wife, whose love and support empowers me. To Revd Peta who has worked tirelessly despite ill health and has risen to the challenges of being Church in our Time. To Vanda who has provided all the technological expertise to make St Francis online possible and whose daily prayer series have been the backbone of the Parish throughout this time, and to Kim who holds this community together through the power given her by the Holy Spirit as an administrator and communicator. I am grateful to God for the gifts that He gives us through them.
May 2021 be a year of growth, healing and hope!
Love and peace,
be assured of my prayers!
choose faith not fear!