Having publicly announced my intention to retire around July this year, the implications of that decision are kicking in already. Some of them have been brought to my attention by others who have retired already from vocations that had consumed their head and their heart. I am grateful for their input.
Their insights have been thoughtful and very welcome. I have always responded to changes in my personal life very positively – even those forced upon me by external events; like the death of a parent or illness. I will approach retirement with hope and vigour.
I’ve also managed changes in my professional life with confidence and energy. Except for those occasions when I felt very deeply that the change being proposed was not in the interests of what I believed to be the primary focus of the ministry I was involved in. Or, the interests of a contemporary Christian faith responding to a world full of possibilities and challenges, and at times, threats to its core identity as a welcoming inclusive community. In those circumstances, I have resisted and opposed with thoughtful arguments and controlled passion. Well, I think I have!
Whilst 2021 represents a year of change and transition for me personally, as it does for other individuals in our community, more importantly it also represents a significant year of change for all of us as a community as we craft our course through the next few months.
We have been making some big and long-overdue decisions about maintenance work on the Church building: the unsafe tower has been replaced with a new one, work will commence very soon on replacing the roof ( possibly next week), and then work will commence on underpinning the floor, improving drainage and fixing plaster etc. Thanks to some good financial re-structuring and improvements in our income base we will be able to weather the financial storm so-to-speak. So, in some ways, apart from some temporary disruption to using the building over coming months, this part of our future is being handled and underway.
However, our life and purpose together involves but transcends property-related matters and concerns, and this is where we will need to turn our attention over the coming weeks and months. As a community of very different individuals, we are in this together. Some people have been with the ‘St Kilda story’ for a long time, while others have joined more recently. But it is as a people having equal worth within that community that we will need to navigate this change. We will need to support, encourage and listen to each other in the process of pooling our faith, our imagination, our passion, our ideas, and our hopes for the faith communities that meet inside 163 Chapel St, St Kilda.
No one perspective or opinion is less or more important or credible than another. The future will impact all of us, so we will need to work together thoughtfully so that we craft a future that looks like something everyone can get behind and bring to life.
To this end, we will be embarking upon a small group process, hosted by myself and a member of Church Council. We will host these events over the internet using Zoom – something we are now all very familiar with. Some papers are going to be sent to you early next week for you to read and think about before the small group meeting – we thought that was better than just beginning with a blank page. I urge you to read them and give them your faithful consideration. We are not starting from scratch so-to-speak. We have done things and learned things, and now we draw upon our collective experiences and hopes to shape the next phase of our ministry in St Kilda with imagination, boldness and confidence.
I know change can be both daunting and at times threatening, but it also opens up all sorts of opportunities for asking questions like: what if…..
So, how will we navigate and manage change during 2021?