Same tracks, new destination
Farewell to Sydney and ministry in the diocese (I was first licensed by ‘Robi’ - The Most Reverend D.W.B. Robinson, Archbishop of Sydney - in 1981 to the parish of Blackheath). Au revoir to St. Paul’s Chatswood. What a brilliant community of faith and ministry team. They’ve taught me so much about prayer and generosity, hard work and serving that ‘audience of One’ (to quote Mr. Hybels). Weekly staff meetings, prayer for revival, working bees, door knocking are at an end. We’ve loved living in the rectory, walking across the car-park to the office - a commuter’s dream. And leaving behind three adult sons - that’s tough. Not sure how I’ll manage without them.
Hello Canberra and Goulburn (C &G)!
The privilege of being elected as Diocesan is enormous. I’ve worked in 19 of the 23 dioceses in Australia (and a few abroad, for good measure) but this is the first time that (under God) I’m at the helm. Daunting. I’m blessed to be going to a diocese with a stable and Godly leadership team and where missional initiatives are the norm. Indeed C & G has led the way with ministries like Basement and Lanyon. I’ll be afforded the opportunity of learning from a rich mix of traditions and contexts; urban, regional, rural, coastal, snow capped and riparian. A new house, a new car, a new title, a new set of responsibilities, and a new hat (literally!).
The Lord of the Harvest is still on the throne and Jesus will build his church. That is as true for Chatswood as it is for C & G. In leaving St. Paul’s I am reminded that (thankfully) programs and activities will continue without me. Margaret and her team will still run the KYB group. John’s College for Christians (2 sessions every Sunday) won’t miss a beat. Armen has the business ministry in growth mode and Deb is managing the Back to Church Sunday initiative (it is estimated that more than 30,000 people were reached through this event in the UK a month or so ago). People will continue to come to faith in Christ, Growth Groups will flourish (under the direction of Eugene and Vanessa) and the Chinese congregations will lovingly enfold people from the Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking communities. A kingdom difference will continue to be made with or without a rector (probably without for a season). Quite sobering in many ways.
And of course the other thing that does not change is the enduring, life-giving Word of God - to which I now turn. May I close with a prayer request (originally from St. Paul) -
Finally dear friends, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. (II Thessalonians 3:1)
- and my prayer for you (again from St. Paul) -
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word (II Thessalonians 2:16)
The Lord be with you!
Warmly in Christ Jesus.
Stuart P. Robinson.
Bishop-elect, Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.