Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.
Today is a good day to celebrate belonging to Emmanuel. Many churches around the world celebrate Patronal Festivals (the festival where your Patron Saint is honoured) and this can be ours. Perhaps every year on the last Sunday in August we will gather for this purpose. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this day happen, especially Jess, Russell and Cheryl and all those who’ve supported them. What wonderful people we have in our church!
With new signs, flags, audio/visual equipment in the hall, and some much-needed renno’s in the admin area, and new furniture in the foyer on their way, it feels like we’re getting ourselves set for some fresh beginnings. Two other things, which will help us on our way in 2019, are a Congregational Consultation in early November and next month I will be launching a new initiative called “Deep Foundations” in which I will gather all those in leadership at our church for some extra input and training. There is good reason for optimism into the future.
In which case, it will be great to offer our annual tithing commitments and any other general thanksgiving offering today as a sign of our investment into the ministry of our church. If you are not able to make such a commitment today (or have simply forgotten your pledge forms), you are welcome to deliver them to the office in due course.
Today also marks the end of our period of prayer and fasting to consider our response to the 15th Assembly decision to allow for Same Gender Marriage in the Uniting Church. As part of our ongoing discernment process, at Church Council the other night, I was asked to facilitate two conversations at our church to allow for comments, questions and just being heard on the issue by any member of the congregation who wishes to. To that end there will be two conversations held on Tuesday 4th September: one at 9:30am and then again at 7pm, here at church. They will be no more and no less than conversations between interested people. If you would like to do some further reading on the issue we have made available three documents: the Assembly’s Working Group on Doctrine report “Marriage & Same Gender relationships”; a pastoral Letter from the President of the Assembly; and a proposal called “Standing Firm by Stepping Aside”. There are a limited number of printed copies available in the foyer today or you can ask for them to emailed to you via the office. I have also included my critique of the current situation at the request of Church Council.
So, plenty to read, plenty to think about and plenty to celebrate – let’s keep giving God all we have and remember that because of Jesus and in the power of His Spirit we do indeed experience Emmanuel – God with us!
God bless, Ian.