As I write this report I have just celebrated a year since I was licensed as Rector of the Parish of the Dorrigo on the 29th January 2014. It has certainly been an exciting and challenging year and as we reflect on the past year we can give thanks to God for his faithfulness to us as his people here in Dorrigo.
The church continues to have an active ministry in many areas of community life and we are blessed with a willing and active team of lay people who work tirelessly for God and give generously of their time, talents and treasures to God’s work. Although we are always grateful for new help!
2014 has been a year of change. Not long after I arrived, on the 1st March, the Diocese of Grafton made history with the Consecration of the first woman bishop to lead a Diocese in Australia and we welcomed The Rt Rev Dr Sarah MacNeil as our new bishop. We have been blessed with her leadership, her gracious and humble manner and her willingness to tackle some of the major challenges facing our diocese.
At Diocesan Synod at Tweed Heads in August, Bishop Sarah challenged us to be willing to change if we to be the church in the 21st Century. She outlined a Diocese with a tarnished reputation, one with financial challenges and one facing numerical decline and re-iterated that without significant change these challenges could not be overcome.
That change has of course been translated and evident in the life of our parish under a new minister. There have been a series of incremental changes which are aimed at enhancing our worship and ministry. The children’s and youth work has been strengthened with the introduction of the Nooma group on the second Sunday, the work of Tahnee and Di with little teddies and the introduction of a children’s slot and action songs at the main service. We have introduced new Eucharistic prayers and an informal Agape Service to give us a greater variety of worship styles and experiences at our main service. We had a teaching series on Jonah which we linked to the midweek bible studies and we have encouraged our LLM’s to be involved with the teaching and preaching and continued to encourage our musicians to learn new songs and to enhance our worship experience with the input of our Choir capably lead by Christine. We have also importantly, launched a new service of All-Age Family worship aimed specifically at children and families and this is a strategic part of our outreach to the community as well as holding a series of outreach and socials for our families, men and ladies that have been very well received.
As we begin a new year we are hoping to strengthen the prayer life of our congregation with a new monthly prayer meeting starting in February and we are planning ateaching programme after Easter calledGiving in Grace to encourage us to reflect on giving as part of our worship and to ensure our church continues to meet our financial obligations going forward.
At last year’s AGM I encouraged people to reflect on and answer three questions:-
1. How can we engage and reach out to our community?
2. How can we kindle our love for God and neighbour?
3. How can we grow numerically?
Our church council considered the responses to these questions and we have had a busy year on the church council as we have worked through a series of exercises in order to clarify our vision and our values and in order to prioritise what our mission and ministry will be focussed on for the next three years.
I am pleased to say that our church council has worked very hard, for which I am very grateful and we will be in a position to share with the full membership of our church our Vision statement and Values and our strategic plan for 2015-2017. These are not just pieces of paper. These are our guiding documents which have been considered and discerned over a period of time and we commend them to you for your prayers and consideration and active participation! It is important that we can see clearly where we want to go as a church under God and that we direct our time and resources to the priorities we have identified under Seven areas of mission and ministry.
In particular for 2015 the Rector and church council has identified three areas that we will be focussing on:-
1. Prayer – deepening our individual and corporate prayer life
2. Worship – continuing to enhance our Worship and Praise of God
3. Embedding and establishing our new family Service.
If you feel you can help and would like to be more involved in any area of our churches life – don’t be shy!! –come and have a chat I am always available as your pastor and church leader. I have a new coffee machine that you are welcome to try!!!
As I finish, I want us to remember the people that we have gone home to Jesus over this past year. We give thanks for the life and witness of Nora Banks, Hannah Karnau and Dulcie Sawtell. Godly women who have made a huge impact on this church and leave a lasting legacy. We continue to pray and uphold before God those who grieve for them, particularly Graham. The church itself conducted 16 funeral services in 2014 and this is a vital part of our ministry to the community and I am grateful to our retired clergy, our organists and the ladies who cater for their work in caring for the bereaved.
I wish to thank my indefatigable Wardens Kath, Graham and Ken for their work over the past year and their support of me and the family. Especially I pay tribute to Graham’s work as church warden as he stands down this year. I wish to thank Gwenneth for the tireless work she does with GFS, our mission giving and the production of our weekly pew sheet which is no mean feat!
I also thank our musicians and organists for helping to lead us into God’s presence every week and all those who help in our youth and children’s work especially Mandy, Vivian, Beryl, Di, Gwenneth and Tahnee.We are delighted for Anne Goode that all her hard work and sense of call is being realised and we look forward with Peter to sharing as a Parish in the joy of her ordination as Deacon at 11am on Saturday 11th April in Grafton Cathedral. May we all continue to love and serve him and pray for our church as we continue to live into our vision of “Sharing God’s Love through Prayer and Action Everyday”
Yours in his Service