Dear First Church folk,
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017 to you all. I do hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. I know the weather has not been the greatest in terms of the summer conditions we were all expecting, but I trust that your time with family and friends was warm and sunny in more ways than one.
The past couple of months was eventful. It was a busy time, yet full of wonderful experiences. I think the Advent season building up to Christmas was particularly enjoyable with so many people visiting our grounds for photographic opportunities as well as joining us for worship. The invitation to folk to colour-in the Advent sheets enabled a chance for them to express their artistic talent. A beautiful display was the result with many visitors taking the time to admire and contributing to it. Fun and excitement was also evident during the Carols for Kids service on Christmas Eve. Its growing popularity was apparent in the huge number that attended. More important, though, was being able to explore the Christmas story in a creative and interactive way that helped people appreciate the message of Christ. (I believe the chocolate Santas were also a factor. ) Similarly, the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, News Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day services were well attended. The positive feedback from visitors is very affirming of our ministry together.
The busyness rolled into 2017 with the Prayer Week services of our Cook Islanders group. The Prayer Week theme was “Standing strong in the faith” based on Ephesians 6: 10 – 20. Since many had gone away on holiday, the services were held in the Burns Hall and led by different groups each day. About 30 people attended each day and participated in sharing their thoughts on the theme and related questions interspersed with singing. The result was that many felt the theme was a good platform to lead us into 2017.
It was a privilege for me to conduct my first marriage engagement ceremony in our church. Mr. Anthony Li and Miss Sah Wong have been coming to First Church for most of last year and are business partners in a restaurant in Mornington. Their personal relationship had developed to a point that they wanted to get married. With a very small number of friends and family present, an engagement ceremony was held in our church where Anthony proposed to Sah. It was such a moving and beautiful experience to witness. Lunch at their restaurant followed thereafter for which Rev. Anne and I tried all sorts of new Asian dishes. Congratulations again to Sah and Anthony.
You would have seen some scaffolding and fencing around the front of the church. As well as the structural strengthening of our church building, we understand that the exterior also be given consideration. To do this, we have put some measures in place to ensure health and safety. The re-routing of car traffic maybe an inconvenience at present, but we are endeavouring to ensure that inspection and work required on the church gets done as soon as possible. I appreciate your patience and cooperation.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead of us this year. We will be launching the Youth Alpha course for about ten of our young people to explore their Christian faith. We also are looking at ways to revamp our Christian education programme and developing a welcome pack for folk who may be thinking of joining First Church. My election to the Council of Assembly this year will require some time away for meetings and fulfilling tasks given to me. Already this year, I’ve been involved with the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and Southern Presbytery work. So, although the road ahead for 2017 looks busy, it is one in service of our Lord.
Together with Christ all things are possible for us.