Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A River Runs through It

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A River Runs through It

Article excerpt

As is often the way with forays into new areas of ministry or opportunities for engagement with our local community and beyond, knowledge of what will actually be involved, the required resources, the gifts and skill sets needed, only become fully apparent once you are on the journey and the commitment to go forward has been made. In Luke 14, Jesus tells two parables about weighing up becoming his disciple: a builder must estimate the cost before commencing to build a tower, and a king going into battle carefully assesses whether he can win with his forces or if terms need be negotiated. The "weigh it up before you begin" principle Jesus describes in relation to deciding to follow him continues to apply through our Christian life. We consider how best to be involved in the ministry to which we are called, but with the advantages of prayer for guidance, the discernment of the Spirits leading, and the fellowship and gifting of other faithful disciples.

Had I been aware that at the end of the process I would be writing this article, then I suspect I would have approached organizing the Just Water 2017 conference entirely differently, and far more systematically. There would have been pieces of paper with Simon Sinekstyle diagrams with concentric circles with a central why, then how, and what radiating out. I might have a table outlining stages of Christian life and growth1 with headings from "Raising Awareness of God," through "Pre-evangelism, Evangelism, Conversion, Young Christian," ending with "Trained for Full-Time Ministry," and appropriate points under each heading as to how the conference contributed, in ministry terms, to our cathedral life and mission. In our cathedral vision statement, included with the notes that describe how we advance our various ministry goals, I would have a section describing the ways the conference enhanced the development of our educative role in the diocese, our commitment to sustainability, how it raised awareness of a Christian apologetic for life on this blue planet of ours, and furthered our witness in our community. I would have a helpful collection of local Anglican luminaries involved as the conference board of reference to the organizing committee, and I would definitely only take this on with more than ten minutes on average per week to devote to it.

Thats what I would like to think.


This story begins with a visit to London in October 2015. Wishing to gain a greater understanding of how precentors operate in other cathedrals with comparable ministries to our own in Melbourne, and as a sideline, to see models of ministries we were considering beginning, I went to London for two weeks. Our dean, the Very Rev. Dr. Andreas Loewe, contacted university friends and former colleagues from his time studying and working in the United Kingdom who were ministering at St. Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and St. Martinin-the-Fields. My aim was to observe ministry in action, talk through issues with those with similar ministry responsibilities to my own, and have time away from the pressures and requirements of my own role to reflect, think, pray, and plan for the next three years.

I was delighted to meet the precentors at Westminster Abbey and St. Pauls Cathedral. I was also fortunate to spend time with one of the associate vicars at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Rev. Jonathan Evens, to observe their Chinese ministry with the Rev. Paul Lau, and meet other clergy.

Among this mix, at St. Pauls Cathedral Melbourne we were considering starting an institute. Our dean also suggested, if possible, that I speak with Barbara Ridpath, the director of the St. Pauls Institute. "They are organizing a conference on water justice with Trinity Wall St. Institute, and I'd be very happy for us to take part," he said. After speaking with Canon Michael Hampel, precentor at St. Paul's, he kindly introduced me to Barbara. I went armed with questions about the role, aims, and the outcomes of the institute. …

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