We’ve been searching for someone to come to St Stephen’s to make connections with and minister to younger folk for over a year now – and no show as yet. How should we feel? It has become obvious that one difficulty before us is asking someone to come and start virtually by themselves. We need some creative way forward – one that we can’t quite see yet, but which the Lord will bring us to in His good timing.
I’ve been challenged myself as I’ve been reading through Exodus. In the book of Exodus, God’s people believed His promises and had the encouragement of His provision at the Red Sea. As the days went on though, they faced such difficulties and disappointments that their faith often was tested and sometimes failed. God did not fail them however.
Now God has brought us to the point of utilising our resources to begin a further ministry into the younger demographic of Tamworth. God has moved us in a wonderful way – a way I’d been praying over for many years. We don’t need any outside finance as we once did when we started TCPC with a Ministry & Mission subsidy. This is extraordinary! This is a very great blessing and encouragement! May we be confident that having begun this God will finish it in His own best time!
We have need of patience and perseverance, that, after having done the will of God, we might receive the promise! This is the good advice of Hebrews 10:36!
On another front, Presbyterian Aged Care (PAC) is interested in looking at Tamworth as a possible town within which to develop their ministry to the aged. I have been talking with Paul Sadler (Chief Executive officer of PAC) for Session (both St Stephen’s and Scots Moonbi) and have some suggestions from him to place before both sessions. We would value your prayers and interest.
Your thankful minister,
This June Communion Service will be our first Sunday without TCPC using our facilities. They have been with us for several years now. The last visit of Jeoff Falls in November 2011 marked a watershed for us all. Up to that point we had been in limbo regarding vision and planning for the future. Until we knew what TCPC’s plans and desires were for their future, we could not go forward. The last eighteen months has seen us develop our strategic plan and look at ways forward. We have the necessary resources to go forward and God has given us the will.
I believe that we need to be optimistic realists as Christians. I know I have said this many times, but it is good to be reminded again. Our congregation’s age and stage and limited future are one side of that coin – the realistic side. While we must be realistic about ourselves, we must also be optimistic about God. He is Someone who keeps His Word. What He begins, he finishes. As Hudson Taylor (the famous China Inland Mission first director in the 19th Century) said: “God’s work done in God’s way will not lack God’s supply!”
Firstly, we need to be confident in God. Secondly, we need to be doers of his Word.
One doing that the Presbytery recommended to us during their visitation to the St Stephen’s & Scots Churches, is hospitality. Hospitality is a wonderful way of showing care and friendship towards each other and to newcomers. Age and infirmity has placed many amongst us unable to take part in such a ministry. Please pray that the Lord will call enough of us to this ministry of hospitality, especially when new people turn up at worship.
The key principle to successful hospitality is the KISS Principle: KEEP IT SIMPLE STU…!
Hospitality is the offering of ordinary good food, simply prepared and served with love and friendship. It is a sharing of sandwiches or whatever you would normally be having for a meal with others. Hospitality is not costly, nor does it take a lot of energy.
May God make us fruitful in small ways to the praise of His glory and the future growth of the Gospel in Tamworth and the well-being of St Stephen’s.
Your thankful minister,
FINDING OUR WAY FORWARD
One of our members, Glenn Mercer, will be starting soon as Chaplain to two BUPA aged care services – at Tamworth and Armidale. Please pray for Glenn as he starts this ministry within these BUPA centres.
As most of you know, I have struggled with severe back pain since June. I have had an MRI scan of my pinched nerve Wednesday August 7th. The main result of the MRI is that I will most likely have to have surgery on my back. A central disc bulge between my Lumbar L4/5 vertebrae combined with a ligament inflammation has caused the spinal canal to narrow and pinch the spinal cord. I will see spine specialist Dr Gordon Dandie on September 2nd. After September 2nd, session will be able to arrange things for supply while I’m away for that surgery. I’m also taking a fortnight’s annual leave to go and see my mother. Mum is not doing too well at present. While I’m away, St Stephen’s is employing Glenn Mercer to preach at both services each Sunday and to do one day a week pastoral visiting for me. I’ve been getting way behind in that. It is wonderful that the Lord has dovetailed things together so that Glenn is available at just this time. This is one answer to our prayers of the past year. I am also proposing that Glenn be contracted to continue some pastoral work after he starts at BUPA.
Hopefully too we’ll have the new data projector up and running for our September communion service. This will make a big difference. Glenda Mercer has been a big help in this with her expertise in using all this new technology as a high school teacher.
Paul Sadler, the CEO of Presbyterian Aged Care NSW, spoke to us on Thursday 8th August regarding Presbyterian aged care possibilities for Tamworth. What is very possible is the option of PAC applying for government funding to establish a community aged care service in Tamworth. This would not require substantial property holdings, but could be based in an office linked to the church. It would work in with PAC’s existing community care service in Walcha. This could be a useful first step for future long-term developments.
Community aged care is funded and regulated by the Australian Department of Health & Ageing (DoHA), with the Department of Veterans Affairs directly funding some programs for veterans. There are three main funding programs in community aged care:
• Home Care Packages – Support services in the home equivalent to low or high residential aged care. New home care packages are distributed via annual Aged Care Approvals Rounds. In late 2012, DoHA advertised 108 new packages in the New England region.
• Home and Community Care – Provides range of low level home support services such as meals on wheels, domestic assistance, home nursing, day-care. Annual competitive funding rounds for new services need to be applied for, and PAC deals with this.
• National Respite for Carers Program – Provides services which give a break from caring for the family carers of older people. [This programme funds Walcha Day Respite Centre at Riverview.]
Please also be in prayer for me as I talk with some other young ministers about ministry here at St Stephen’s. When I’m in Sydney for the General Assembly of Australia in September 9th-13th 2013 I hope to discuss this with one of those I am approaching.
Your thankful minister,
MOVEMENT AT THE STATION
No younger ministers have yet been willing to look at a position here. However, the Lord has provided two older men who are willing to do ministry here within St Stephen’s – Dale Martin as Chaplain at St Mark’s and Family ministry Worker here at St Stephen’s, and Glenn Mercer as Pastoral Assistant responsible for ministry to older Members. Session is processing these possible ministries and will come to the congregation when we have something definite in the way of contracts and of how to finance these ministries. Hopefully this congregational meeting will be in early December.
After almost two years of searching for an assistant, I have come to the opinion that the time for the congregations of St Stephen’s and Scots Moonbi to call a younger minister will be when I retire. Having an existing ministry team will most certainly be very attractive for any prospective minister. The stumbling block before has been the weight of the task of rebuilding a younger part of our congregation. It is too great a weight for one person to bear.
It is fairly impossible for one minister to minister to an older congregation and, at the same time, to rebuild younger age-groups in the congregation. The hard reality is that the necessary time needed for rebuilding leaves very little time for ministry to older members. I have certainly found it outside my capabilities. We need a team to cover both. With Glenn and Dale we will have such a team for any minister to work with in providing ministry to these two necessary and vital groups within our membership.
Let us go forward with joy and hope into the new year. Christmas reminds us of that incredible gift of the Lord Jesus. In Him and with Him, we have all that the Church needs to grow and go forward. May this coming year be one that gladdens all our hearts in Him!
Your thankful minister,
[Published in St Stephen's Church News for March, June, September and December 2013]