Sunday, 29th November, 2015

Welcome to everyone worshiping with us today at St Matt’s. It’s a 5th Sunday today so morning tea will have to wait until after the service but at least we will get to sing some songs using the pre-recorded worship of Andy Pobjoy.

After the service today, once everyone’s got a cuppa, we will hold a meeting to provide further information and to gain an indication of how the congregation feels and thinks about the proposed partnership with City on a Hill, Geelong, (COAH). The feeling of the meeting will inform our next parish council meeting, tomorrow night, where we hope to ratify a proposal drafted at last week’s meeting held especially for the purpose.

Last week’s news was received by a mixture of outright joy and some misgivings. As the week has unfolded, the Wardens and I have met with the leaders from COAH, had a meeting with the Parish Council and I have exchanged some correspondence with Rev Andrew Grills, their Lead Pastor.

I think I need to make some things very clear:

1.       We are offering to give up our morning worship, in all its forms, so that COAH can run their own church in our buildings. We are very welcome to join their worship but it will be their service, with their different theological nuances and worship styles. We will be their guests, as they will be renting the space and time from us. That means that I (or anyone else from St Matt’s) will not be leading, preaching, presiding or taking any formal part in the service. Likewise, there will be no notices or offerings relating directly to St Matt’s on a weekly basis, unless there is to be a joint event of some kind. When we join them we will do things their way, and when they join us they will do things our way.

2.       For the first couple of years, we have offered that in lieu of some of the rent they may purchase for us new chairs and upgrade the heating (yay!), something we have been unable to afford on our own.

3.       In order to “make the space their own”, as tenants, they will be making some other cosmetic changes, subject to our agreement, at their own expense, with an understanding that they will restore the worship space to an agreed standard should they leave the partnership.

4.       We will need to redefine how and when we do worship. The plan at this stage is to hold a Celebration service once a month at say, 5pm, with coffee, evening meal, discussion based around a bible reading and Missional Community reporting and Holy communion. We also expect to hold a Playgroup Sunday in the hall once per month largely as we have been this year only in the evening timeslot. The other Missional Communities may meet at other times and venues yet to be decided.

5.       We will need to regularly review how things are going and especially if this arrangement is suiting all our worship and other pastoral needs.

6.       Both churches hope that we will be able to hold some joint festivals, mission and ministry yet to be determined. COAH folk may wish to join with us at Tate Street, for example, or the Op-shop or Playgroup and it would be nice to think we could celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pentecost with them – all of which remains to be seen and worked through.

7.       This is not the end of St Matt’s. We are doing well, achieving our goals and will continue to push into the Missional Communities model, with some new freedom I suspect.

8.       There will be teething issues, without doubt, and the transition time will test us all.

9.       We get to bring life to their ministry and they to ours – it’s a great Kingdom Project!

God bless,    Ian.