The parish is the church’s core business
When it comes to buying or selling homes we are told that ‘location, location, location’ is the golden rule of real estate. When I think about the church’s core business it is ‘parish, parish, parish and more parish’.
Writing in his August ‘Ad Clerum’ Bishop Trevor wrote, “Parishes have been our core business for generations and need to remain so, notwithstanding the need to experiment with different forms of connecting people with the good news of Jesus.”
The New Testament suggests that the church is the community within which Christians are to grow and mature. The parish is where most Anglicans come together to meet Jesus, to offer worship to God, to belong to one another and to receive sustenance for the journey.
It is here where we develop the virtues and values that enable us to grow in faith. It is here where our understanding of God and discipleship is shaped by the teaching and the preaching offered.
It is within the parish context where we learn to love and care for one another and are sent out into the world to proclaim the good news of Christ so that others might believe.
When the clergy of the Canberra Central Deanery met recently we reflected on the context and flavour of the parishes in which we serve. We decided that each parish must choose how they are going to be the church (or the parish) that God calls them to be.
We then reflected on the diversity of our parishes:
At St John’s we are noted for the diversity and number of our worship services (5 services on a Sunday!) – from 1662 prayer book services; to contemporary Anglican liturgy; to stjohns@6 which is aimed at helping students and young professionals explore what being a disciple of Jesus is all about in the ocean of postmodern life.
The church at All Saints’ Ainslie was originally a railway station for the Rookwood cemetery in Sydney and was moved stone by stone in the 1950s. Their liturgy or worship is ‘high church’ with ‘smells and bells’ centred around a vibrant music program to enhance its soul-stirring liturgies.
St Philip’s O’Connor offers worship services, which are friendly and relaxed, while valuing our liturgical and musical heritage. They are a community which values and embraces diversity and are inclusive in outlook.
St Paul’s Manuka has been an active Christian presence in Canberra for over 100 years. As a community they have a great reverence for Scripture and the sacraments of the church and maintain fine liturgical traditions and excellence in music.
Holy Cross Hackett are in partnership with St Margaret's Uniting Church and share their church building, worship space and hall with them. This cooperation spans decades and is the longest of its type in the Canberra region.
Parishes have been our core business for generations and will remain so. They are diverse communities of faith where God is worshipped and where people are both cherished and encouraged to grow.
Parishes are also ideally placed to care for those in the wider community. They are communities of witness, proclaiming the good news of Christ so that others might come to believe.