Easter Vestry Address 2019
This year the theme for our parish is ‘Heritage and Hope.’ Heritage as we celebrate 150 years of St. Anne’s and hope as we look to the future. Each year the Easter Vestry gives us the opportunity to reflect on the faithfulness of previous generations and to acknowledge the legacy that they have left us as well as look ahead and to ponder the sort of legacy that we would want to leave behind.
On 24th September 1869, the primate consecrated this church. The Rev JH King was the Rector and the contractor was Mr. Richard Cherry of Loughgall, the total cost being £8000 in today’s money that would work out at about £986,000. The architect was WJ Barre, also the architect of the Ulster Hall and the Albert clock in Belfast, he received £300 for his services, about £36000 today. Now this happened at a time of real turmoil in the life of the Church of Ireland, disestablishment, which meant the church stopped being the state church and had to stand on its own two feet financially. In just over 15 years the parish built a new church, a new rectory on Circular Road (on the sight of the SW College and a new hall in Northland Row, now Viscounts restaurant. It is remarkable when we think of the activism, commitment and generosity of our predecessors, a legacy that we enjoy to this very day.
At the end of the 2nd World War there was a growing desire for a hall to be built on Moygashel to provide a place of worship and witness in the heart of the growing village. The sight was acquired for the grand sum of £50, then plans were set in place for the building of the hall. The architect gave his services free of charge. On 11th October 1952 Archbishop Gregg opened and dedicated Moygashel Church Hall. At the opening there was an outstanding debt of £1804, around £49,000 today. The vestry challenged the congregation on that day to meet 50% of the debt. The collection came to £1870. The equivalent of £51000!
I find that history and our heritage quite remarkable. We definitely stand on the shoulders of great people. It is so important that we celebrate that heritage that we thank God for those who have gone before. I hope that in years to come parishioners of the future will give thanks for our generation, that we would be seen as people who celebrated our heritage but didn’t rest on the laurels of others.
I want us to think for a moment or two of what our hope for this parish is and I’d like to do that by asking three questions. Don’t worry I won’t ask you for the answers!
The first question is:
What are you thankful about as you think of our parish? Let’s take a moment to think about that….
I’m sure there are lots of different things that have come into our minds. Worshipping together, church family, support, faith nurtured and I’m sure many other different things that you are thankful for.
The second question is;
What are your hopes for the parish? Let’s take a moment to think about that…….faithfulness, growth, witness, care, development.
The third question:
What are you doing to make those hopes come true? If we believe that the church is family, then we believe that everyone is important and everyone has their unique part to play in the life of the church family.
We have such an incredible heritage and I believe we have a very bright future as we seek to love, worship and serve God. He is the one who gives us, His people, hope.
Last year at this meeting I shared something of the select vestry plans to renovate the halls as an 150th anniversary project. Since then much has happened in the planning and preparation stages. In fact the plans are now with the council awaiting planning permission having passed all the various stages of church approval. In brief the work will provide lift access to the halls from the car park entrance, there will also be ramped access to the foyer and hall from the Church Street entrance. We believe that these improvements will make our buildings much more accessible and useable. The stage area will provide a new meeting room, revamped storage and office space. We had hoped that work would begin this summer but unfortunately the wheels of the RCB and the planning service move quite slowly! Our plan is now to do the work in the Summer of 2020, working in the summer will hopefully minimise the impact on our organisations.
The parish has always been blessed with a very hard working ad committed vestry. The outgoing vestry was no exception to this and I want to thank them for their service to the parish. I want to thank our outgoing churchwardens Robert and Deborah in St. Anne’s and June and Janet in St. Elizabeth’s, I know all of us will agree that they were exemplary in their service as wardens. Our Glebewardens, Vivian Suitor and Mark Wade, continue to provide sterling service in what is a very demanding and time consuming role.
I want to thank Maureen McKeown are ever efficient honorary secretary. Our finance team do so much work on our behalf. The stringent requirements of the charities commission have certainly increased the workload of all of those involved in the financial management of our parish. On behalf of all of us I want to express my thanks to our honorary treasurer Mavis Kerr for her daily work for the parish. We also appreciate Tom Forsythe our FWO Secretary, Ian Steenson for his expertise and advice and our committed team of counters.
I know all of us feel so thankful to have organists of the calibre of David Thompson and Matthew Winning. Their dedication to the parish is greatly appreciated as is the exceptional work of Kenny McIlroy and Karen Robinson whose care for our buildings is nothing short of exemplary.
I want to thank Anne Greenaway for her work in the parish office. What a pleasure it is for me to work with our staff team, Elizabeth, David and our newest staff members Graham and Kerry. What a great team! Graham and the family settled so quickly amongst us and I know many have felt very blessed by his ministry and Kerry’s work with our young people has been great, I’m delighted that the vestry have agreed to increase Kerry’s hours.
I can’t begin to tell you what a privilege it is for me to be your Rector. I am so grateful that God has called me to serve in this part of His vineyard in the great parish of Drumglass. We have a great heritage but in trusting God an even greater hope.
Your Rector and Friend Andrew Forster