Sunday 13 March 2022 and Vestry Meeting, St Paul’s, Durban

  • Today’s sermon was given at the combined 8.00am service as part of the annual Vestry meeting by Revd Dr Andrew Warmback. The text of the sermon is below (No video).

The following were elected at the Vestry: Church Wardens: Dr Egerton Hingston and Ms Yolisa Mapasa; and Alternate Church Warden: Mr Bheki Shabalala.   Treasurer: Mr Lethu Mkhize

Parish Council members: Ms Jabu Soni, Ms Remona McKenzie, Dr Linn Matsebula, Ms Sinazo Mchiza, Ms Thobeka Dodo, Mr Raphael Mdepha, Mr Mbuyi Kalala and Mr Jimmy Ssemafumu

There are a few portfolios and areas (such as communication, pastoral, gender, environment) on Parish Council in which no one made themselves available to stand.  If you feel called to serve on Parish Council please speak to me as there is the possibility of others being co-opted onto the Council.

  • Mask wearing, sanitising and social distancing are essential. Temperatures and tracing details of those attending will be taken. We strongly encourage everyone to the fully vaccinated.

A video regarding vaccination (and the text of it), received from the Archbishop’s COVID advisory team can be found here.

The full Service Slides, including the hymns, readings, prayers, other liturgy and notices from today’s service may be found on our website.

Sermon by Revd Dr Andrew Warmback (Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Luke 13: 31-35)

Introduction

Our Old Testament reading today is about God’s call to Abram, who becomes Abraham.  God calls him into a covenant and promises to bless him and his descendants.

He is worried about how this will happen as his wife is beyond child bearing age.  God says to him “Do not be afraid.”

We know that God’s promises are through Abraham.

With our Vestry today we are at the start of something new.  It is an opportunity to look back over there last two years as well as to elect leaders who will take us forward to continue the mission and ministry St Pauls.

As we look back we see that we have indeed been blessed by God.

Reflections

In my own report to Vestry, reflecting on the broader context of the pandemic, I wrote: “Covid-19 has led to separation, isolation, anxiety, illness and death with loss in many people’s income and employment, and accompanied by a resurgence of xenophobia and gender based violence.

The pandemic has also shown us the courage of our health workers, a commitment to working together to overcome the pandemic, reaching out to help the vulnerable, the sharing of resources and praying for one another.”

It sounds a bit Dickensian – “the best of times the worst of times,” as the author Charles Dickens wrote.

In looking over the various reports distributed I note the following in particular, for which we give thanks to God (for copies of all the reports see https://www.stpaulsdurban.org.za/events/vestry-2022/ )

  • The generous and faithful giving of our members in these very difficult times
  • The strong financial management of our parish finances
  • The commitment of our council and the executive members in these two years of office
  • The transition to the use of teleconferencing, especially via Zoom
  • The practical help given to those who struggled under the first hard lockdown and those who suffered from the civil unrest, especially in the form of food parcels
  • The strong leadership of our guilds and their steady growth in membership as well as their emphasis on prayer and spiritual growth. Also significant is their willingness to participate in regional and diocesan activities.
  • The firm establishment of an HR Committee
  • The refurbishment of Church House, undertaken mostly by parish members
  • The growth of the Young Adults group
  • The emergence of an active and effective Gender Group within the parish
  • The organ music in our services that has continued despite no singing permitted.
  • The offering of “on-line” ministry in the form of video and text sermons
  • The visitors to our services and the new members who have joined.
  • The efforts of the Covid-19 team in keeping us safe in services and on the church property
  • The special services we have held, such as Women’s Day, Youth Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Creation (in Medwood Gardens), Heritage Day etc
  • Discussions around real issues of xenophobia, Gender Based Violence, breast cancer, Shell’s seismic survey in the Eastern Cape – in services and other forums
  • The talented young clergy we have been privileged to have serve here – Revds Mathe and Mthimkhulu
  • The photographs taken in services and the creation of videos to be shared through our media channels
  • The regular communication we have kept up, including through the updating of our website and social media
  • Our continued support for Kerr House, a shelter for abused woman and Missions to Seafarers.
  • The election of a new diocesan bishop for our diocese

God’s call to leadership

Like Abraham, today we also consider those who have responded to God’s call to leadership within the parish and beyond.

In the service of Admission to office for those elected, to take place next Sunday, the Archdeacon leads with the following words of prayer: “Lord, direct these your servants by your Holy Spirit.  Grant them the gifts of council and leadership to build up this parish into a truly Christian community.”

And in admitting them to office he asks them” in the name of God to discharge their office to the utmost of their ability, being constant in prayer and study of the word of God that you may know God’s mind.”

We take seriously those elected to church leadership.

We are all called

For those not elected to parish council, we are by virtue of our baptism all called to serve and should contribute the skills and gifts we have for the up building of the church community.

Jesus has called us all into a new covenant- one of love; and a new commitment to one another.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:   Account Name: St Paul’s Church      Account Number: 50854628623     Bank: First National Bank (FNB)     Branch Code: 221426