by Elaine Peterson
A cool, damp October evening 27th October 2016. The church and grounds are well lit. The car park fills in an orderly manner. The ushers and sides people consult their printed lists and hope they put the right people in the right seats. The gallery fills with past and present St Lukians, while invited clergy, visitors, friends and VIPs find their way to labelled pews.
At 7.30pm, the organist gives the grand chords of 'Praise, my soul the King of heaven', and we are on our feet for the hymn as the crucifer leads in the short official procession: David Warner, Acting Rector, Michael Stead, Regional Bishop, the Rev'd Dr Hugh Cox, his Executive Assistant, and the Reverend Kenneth Robert Fenton our incoming leader and pastor. Ken and his wife, Gail are both originally Sydney people. Ken trained at Moore College in the early 1980's. However his ministry experience has been outside Sydney in the Dioceses of Armidale and Grafton. He comes to St Luke's from Port Macquarie. Our nominators are confident he will be "the right fit" for our parish.
The traditional service follows with strong hymns: 'Christ is made the sure foundation', 'Your hand O God has guided' and 'Now thank we all our God'. There is also a lovely rendition of John Stainer's, 'God So Loved the World' sung by Paul and Margaret, two of our best voices.
The Old and New Testament passages, are the basis of Bishop Michael's sermon on the nature of servant leadership. He identifies a Rector's role as threefold—to teach, to protect and to lead. All three aspects are equally important, but he warns that no priest can expect to be Jesus. The Bishop asks the big questions as Ken makes the big promises and receives the Archbishop's license. Delighted applause from the congregation.
Our Wardens, Andrew, Brian and Margaret now come into the chancel and Dr Cox leads them through the symbolic presentation of symbols of a Rector's responsibility. He formally presents the parishioners to Ken, and we say: We welcome you among us as our pastor and Rector and commit ourselves with you to the service of God in this parish. Lots more applause.
Ken leads the Creed and Lord's Prayer and speaks to us now as our Rector. His warmth and humour are well revealed—he describes his role as that of a 'player/coach', but he also reflects seriously on two verses from The Acts on the nature and importance of Grace, which 'can have a profound influence on people.'
The public welcome speeches follow—from Cr Helen McCaffrey, Mayor of Canada Bay, Mr Robert McLean from ABM, the Rev'd Andy Bleach from our neighbour, Point Church, the Rev'd Roger Bray, Rector of St Stephen's, Newtown and Convenor of the Inner West Mission Area, the Rev'd Paul Weaver, Chaplain at Concord Hospital, and on behalf of the parish, Andrew Lane, Warden and Nominator and on behalf of the women of St Luke's, Glenda Bolitho, Pastoral Assistant, who presents a gift and flowers to Mrs Gail Fenton, recognised as Ken's 'partner in ministry'.
We go in peace and joy, to greet our new Rector and out into the hall to enjoy a scrumptious supper and lots of happy conversation.