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Senior Minister's Ministry Report

A summary of the ministries at St Phil's and St Mark's in 2021

Bruce Stanley

March 3, 2022

It would be an understatement to say that the last 12 months have been challenging. It is appropriate to begin this annual report with thanks to God:

  • Thanks to God for sustaining us.
  • Thanks to God for helping us endure.
  • Thanks to God for giving us comfort in times of suffering.
  • Thanks to God for new opportunities.
  • Thanks to God for the same gospel message of hope.

As we reflect on the year behind, I am in awe of how God has enabled us to keep these things at the front of our ministries:

Our Mission -
has remained unchanged for decades. It is to see every person mature in Christ.

Our Vision -
re-established in 2020, is to reach every where in Eastwood, Ermington and a little bit more.

Our Strategy -
launched in 2020, is "how" we do this - to use every open door of opportunity

And as we concluded 2021, in the midst of another challenging year, we defined our...

Purpose -
Something that should go without saying, but needs to be said and we need to remind each other of this: Our Purpose is to glorify God in every household and every generation.

These words / statements / phrases, are not just catchy ways to seem like we're active!They are very much the heartbeat of the gospel of Jesus. We are informed and guided by God's word, in every season, to glorify him, to use the opportunities he gives us, to seek all people for Christ, and to grow in our faith in him. These 4 statements are simply reminders of our call and purpose, our mission and desire.

My deepest thanks to all at St Phil's and St Mark's who have prayed and kept the gospel of Jesus at the centre of our community.

Staff team

Last year we were thankful to be joined on team by Kian Holik, Robin Kinstead, Jenni Stoddart, Lane Sun, Greg Burke, Julie, and as student ministers: Josh and Anna Hoole and Andy Feng. So many staff changes in a year of lockdown!

Robin was able to join us for the last 6 months of 2021. He left in January 2022 to join the saints at Figtree. We are prayerful that God will bless him and his family in their new ministry as Robin begins as Rector. His time serving at Ermington was a time of many transitions, for him and for our church family. Even in lockdown, it was wonderful to see our St Mark's family grow in unity with each other and with St Phil's.We were blessed to have Josh and Anna also serving at St Mark's on Sunday mornings along with lay leader and Parish Councillor Chris Chandler. Along with a growing team of committed servants, they continue to guide Ermington through another time of transition as we await a new minister for this centre. We continue to pray for Josh and Anna as they enter their second year of Moore College.

With great sadness, we said goodbye to Jenni in December. We are so thankful for Jenni's time with us at St Phil's and many have expressed their deep appreciation of her ministry, especially recognising her contribution to the pastoral care of our women. Women's pastoral ministry needs to continue to hold an important place in our church life.

Kian joined us leading the SPICE Indonesian congregation last January. It has been a beautiful partnership, and alongside his wife Liza, and our training and missions facilitator, Julie, they have all given us a deeper appreciation for ministry opportunities in Indonesia and to Indonesian speakers in Australia, renewing our mission hearts!

Greg joined us at a time when we were facing many challenges, and we are all so thankful for his willingness to come out of a short-lived retirement to serve in his capacity as a part time associate minister but also as Locum in my absence. We are indeed grateful for God's timing in Greg's and Pat's arrival at St Phil's. We have been greatly blessed by them both.

It was wonderful to have Lane Sun, along with his wife Jamie and their 3 wonderful children, join our Chinese ministry team with Christine, Clarence, Ningjia and Andy alongside a growing team of lay leaders. Clarence and Christine have been so diligent over these 2 years of COVID and as the team grows, it was particularly special for Christine to be ordained as Deacon. Congratulations Rev. Yang!

As Joe continues to serve our new Korean congregation, there have been many continued challenges, especially with live-streamed services. We are blessed to have Joe on our team, helping us to reach Korean speakers in Eastwood and beyond. It was also exciting to see the Sunday school begin at 11am for Korean, Cantonese and Mandarin speaking children.

Thanks to our children's ministry team - for Jason, Jo and Suzanna, who have worked so hard to keep things moving during lockdowns and with online meetings. Under Jason's thoughtful and pastoral direction of an amazing and growing team, online meetings brought a new level of challenge for children's ministry and safety. The challenges are not yet over, but we are seeing now the fruits of the 2021 ministry as children return on site. Alongside this, our youth programs have also continued with great pastoral care. As we endured home schooling and perhaps the worst lockdown in term 3 last year, we saw our youth leaders all working so hard to maintain contact and community with our youth.

Churches run on administration. Ningjia balanced her missions work with FOCUS at Macquarie University, as well as overseeing Chinese translation and Chinese services administration, whilst also preparing for marriage (congratulations Shawn and Ningjia!).

We are all aware, however, of the massive challenges to amalgamating with another Parish, whilst also in a year of continuing to run live-streams and manage endless changes to COVID restrictions. In this I can say that I join with the many voices this year in saying a special thank you to Tiff Haywood - for her leadership and innovation, relentless organisation and patience in setting a backdrop of very sharp administration. I cannot tell you of all the weekly needs which are met with such joy and servant heartedness.

Tiff's organisation have doubled up with her devoted husband Tim, both working together to see us not only launch the biggest and most amazing Thanks Giving service on-line last year, but continued to see us grow in unity across our language groups and congregations.

Having just also taken on some Ermington administration as well, we give thanks to God for the gifts of administration God has given!

At the risk of leaving anyone out, I can only offer humble thanks to every staff member, every lay leader every growth group leader, every Sunday service helper, every person who made phone calls, every person who dropped in meals to those in need, every person who went on pastoral visits when possible - every person has worked so hard and endured with such grace to help us emerge from this time still strong and growing in our faith.

My thanks to our Parish Council - Yvonne, Chris, Darrel, Amanda, David, Matthew, Andy, and Naomi. In another year of online and in person meetings, we have continued to have great relationships and I have throughly enjoyed another year of leaping forward with God's guidance. In particular, the many staff changes and building works have been extraordinary.

We are so thankful to have David Mayes on our team and I encourage you to read the building and works report he has written which gives a summary of what God has done.David has used his gifts in extraordinary ways yet again this year. Likewise, David Smith has coordinated a growing team in meeting the extended property maintenance needs at Eastwood AND Ermington. The gardens and lush grass declare the hard work and sweat that has gone into this work. Thank you David! Many thanks to Allan Beeston who has managed our increasing property licensing and rentals for another year. This has included taking on the Ermington site and assessing the needs and facilities there also. Allan has been a wonderful liaison with all of our tenants and licensees and we are very thankful for the connection with the community plus the extra income that comes through this work.

My special thanks to Chris Stretton, Mike Lum and our newest warden, Lee Beeston. They have been faithful, encouraging and always understanding of the needs of our church as a whole. Taking on the Ermington site added to their work in terms of property, finances and staffing, but through it all they have continued to show grace. There is no doubt this has been perhaps the busiest for a while in terms of warden responsibilities. My continued thanks to them for the joy it is to work alongside them in every respect. I cannot express well enough in words my thankfulness for their partnership.

And finally, my deepest thanks to my family – Heather, Flynn, Jonah and Asher. Every family has had pressures this past year. Our family is no exception. They have each had their own challenges with school, work, HSC, and more. I am blessed by them and look forward to being with them more in the year ahead. Out of respect for their privacy, I won't tell you details of how amazing they are behind the scenes, but they are!

Professional Standards Committee

This is my 8th year serving on the Professional Standards Committee for the Diocese of Sydney. This committee hears and acts on cases of abuse by clergy and church workers in our Diocese, including sexual abuse, domestic violence and bullying.

English services

As the overseeing Pastor for English services, allow me to share just briefly on our English services. As already mentioned, I have had the privilege of working alongside Jason (now for 7 years!), as well as Suzanna, Jo, Tiff, Anna, Josh, Robin, Jenni, and more recently also with Greg. I feel greatly blessed to work with such amazing people among our English speaking ministries. However, I have to say that a great blessing for all of us on the team is the support of every member. St Phil's is a loving and supportive church. Our ministry team extends well beyond those of us who are paid for the privilege of serving. It extends to every member who steps up to serve in any of the many, many ministry opportunities before us. So many people have engaged in servingSunday after Sunday. Throughout the lockdown, especially with LGAs of concern cutting out more than half of our teams, some people stepped up even more again, meaning that live-streams continued with increasing quality. Those stuck at home also stepped up. They prayed, and they attended online (which isn't always easy!). They made phone calls, and they found ways to care for those in need where they could. Pastorally, we had the highest vacancies in staffing for some time. Yet I have never seen more care and grace on display.

I am sad to have not been able to visit the other language congregations as much as I would usually over the past two years. I miss their fellowship greatly. But I have been constantly encouraged by how much our whole team crosses cultural and language borders to serve our many congregations. It is an amazing characteristic of this diverse and wonderful church family of which we are part.

Concluding remarks

I could write pages more, but I would like to finish by saying this. It has been an exhausting and rewarding year. If we knew exactly what was ahead, I think many of us would have given up earlier. I am delighted to see many joining our church at the moment I am saddened to see some leave. COVID has put unrelenting pressure on many of us in many ways. The outcome of these pressures we will no doubt see over time. We can never underestimate how deep the struggles will continue to run for many people. However, one thing is certain: it is our faith in God that enables us to see more than the world sees in these times. Our faith enables us to trust in what is not visible and have hope for what we cannot see.

As the writer of Hebrews reminds us:

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

May these words continue to give us comfort as we emerge from the fog of the past two years, giving the greatest thanks of all to God for His work and faithfulness towards us.

Bruce Stanley
Rector

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    St Philip's Eastwood Anglican Church

    Cnr. Shaftsbury Rd & Clanalpine St, Eastwood NSW 2122

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