Farewell St Paul's Church Hay
When the Diocese of Riverina was first established there were two towns of significance in the Diocese— Deniliquin and Hay—and the first Bishop, Sydney Linton, decided to settle in Hay. The story of this and his establishment of the Diocese are well recorded in the book “In a Strange Land” written by Laurel Clyde.
From the 1850’s there had been itinerant ministry to the town of Hay from Wagga Wagga and Albury as part of the Diocese of Sydney. Under the leadership of the Bishop Mesac Thomas of Goulburn work was begun on constructing the original Church in 1866. Old St Paul’s Hay was the Church in which Bishop Linton was installed in 1885. The new Church was completed shortly afterwards and became the Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese. It held this honour for nearly 100 years until St Alban’s Griffith was made the Cathedral in 1984 by Bishop Barry Hunter.
St Paul’s continued as the Parish Church of Hay from then until five years ago when the building was deemed unsafe to use. From then until now the congregation have been worship in the Parish Centre behind the Church building.
On Saturday 13 June 2020 Bishop Donald Kirk had the sad task of De-Consecrating the Church building. Bishop Donald celebrated a Eucharist in the Hay Uniting Church assisted by the Rev’d Canon Wayne Sheean, Priest with Oversight of Hay, and the Rev’d Nigel Hawkin, Uniting Church Presbytery Minister and attended by members of both the Anglican and Uniting Church communities.
Bishop Donald, Fr Wayne Sheean and the St Paul’s congregation
Following the Eucharist the gathered congregation processed from the Uniting Church to St Paul’s for the DeConsecration. A light lunch was served in the Parish Centre afterwards.
It was a sad occasion for the faithful parishioners of Hay but it also marked a new beginning. While the Church building can no longer be used and the building and land will be sold there is an agreement of co-operation between the Anglican Church and the Uniting Church whereby Fr Wayne will continue to visit Hay and celebrate a monthly Anglican Eucharist in the Uniting Church. So, while the building is gone the Church and its ministry remain and continue in Hay.
Past Leading to Future
Since Christmas Eve 2016 it has been my privilege to celebrate Mass, welcome new life in Baptism and offer pastoral care to the faithful parishioners of St Paul’s Church Hay.
For the first 18 months this was as needed together with our previous Bishop and clergy ministering in the Parish alongside our very capable and caring LLM’s.
I was appointed Priest with Oversight of the Hay Parish in late 2017 and so with monthly Mass and visits developed a greater understanding of the needs of our people, of the significant history of St Paul’s as Pro Cathedral and Parish Church and of the generous ministry of priests and people together over many years. Hay has experienced with many other rural towns the devastation of a prolonged drought, changes in the economy and the closure or relocation of industry and commerce that has reduced the population of town and region.
These circumstances have led to less people attending church and less monetary offering to sustain ministry especially with a church building that was in much need of costly repairs far above what was reasonably affordable by both parish and diocese.
The Parish Council and I together with Bishops Rob and Donald and our Register Louise have searched many ways to maintain the building and grounds which became an impossible task for the wonderful and blessed few parishioners remaining. The parishioners made the sorrowful but courageous decision to petition the Diocese to close St Paul’s and to sell the property. The “Magnificent Seven” then to become the “Faithful Fantastic Few” when Di moved to Canberra, (my loving name for them) have weathered the storm of much criticism and angst from some people of the wider community, many of whom haven’t given St Paul’s the support it needed over the years.
Our faith-filled parishioners who loved every inch of St Paul’s made the call based on their love of God and their looking to a better future which is not vested entirely on the costly upkeep of buildings and land.
I have the greatest admiration for Bev, Brenda, Edna, Pat, Amanda, Amy and Di and am proud to continue to minister with them into the future. On Saturday 13th June 2020 our Church was deconsecrated after celebration of Mass with Bishop Donald in the Uniting Church whose congregation have offered us their Church for our monthly gatherings. It was a sad but positive time as we recognise God’s call to look anew to future ministry outreach in Hay with our partner Churches.
The Reverend Canon
Hay Organ to Corowa
With the closure of St Paul’s Church a number of items from within the Church needed to be relocated. The most significant of these being the Pipe Organ.
The decision was made that it should be moved to St John’s Corowa thus preserving the instrument as a Church Organ and keeping it within the Diocese.
To quote from the Riverine Grazier of 29 March 2017
“This instrument was built by E. F. Walcker & Cie, Ludwigsburg, Germany in 1887. It contains 281 pipes, giving it superb tonal qualities. The oak casework is of exquisite quality, the façade pipes arranged 5-9-5, with French mouths and surmounted by an elaborate carved superstructure surmounted by a cross, shell motif and carved head.” There will be a rededication of the Organ at some future time.
There are other items from the building that will be finding new homes. Some things have been given to the local war museum, some things to Bishop’s Lodge, and the time capsule will find a new home across the road in the school grounds.
The Organ in St John’s Corowa
Diocese enters the Digital Age
With all the lockdown restrictions that began at the end of March 2020 the Diocese had to find a new way to communicate with people.
After Sunday 22 March all Church services and gatherings were suspended leading to the Bishop and the Dean starting to film record Church Services.
Neither Bishop Donald nor Fr Rob were terribly comfortable in doing this but felt that it was necessary in order to connect with the people of our Diocese. The platforms that were used have been around for quite some time and already well used by other organizations, businesses and community groups. It took COVID-19 to nudge our Diocese into the 21st Century!
We had help. Cassandra Cadorin from Candid Marketing based in Griffith guided us through this and did much of the recording and filming for us. For this we are most grateful. She established a Diocesan Facebook page called Anglican Riverina Diocese and also set up a YouTube channel with the same name. These were used to provide weekly “Virtual Church” from the Fifth Sunday in Lent (29 March) through to Trinity Sunday (7 June).
These services included contributions from Clergy across the Diocese. The services were for the most part based at St Alban’s Cathedral but were also recorded at St Peter’s Leeton, St Paul’s Darlington Point and St Thomas’ Narrandera. It turned out to be a great ministry of Sunday worship when physically gathering was not permitted. The other significant contribution to the YouTube channel came from Fr Walter Firth, Priest in Charge of Tocumwal/Finley w Jerilderie, who has produced weekly Youth Sermons that were filmed by his own 8 year old daughter.
Now that we have returned to worship we have continued to provide content for both Facebook and YouTube with a weekly Sermon being recorded and published. It is intended that this will continue and that occasional services will also be recorded for a wider audience. Fr Walter is also continuing the Youth Sermons.
Alongside all this we are working on updating the Diocesan website to make it more easily used and its content accurate. This is a work in progress that should be completed soon.
God has given humanity the intelligence to create this digital age. We, his Church, have the opportunity to use it to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. Let us embrace this wonderful opportunity!
Future ministry is changed ministry
The Ven Peter Richards is the
Chair of the Ministry Committee
During July we have had a number of Gospel stories that used the imagery of growth from seed to harvest that Christ is reported as using within Matthew’s Gospel.
In thinking about these one of the more obvious understandings to come from them is that growth involves change and that such change is one of the constants of life. We do not like change and we often fight change especially when we do not understand the process.
The Ministry Futures committee, set up by Synod to look at Ministry in the changing environment of the Diocese, has been working through a number of issues and much of their work has resulted in changed property management. In the next few weeks and months, the clergy will be learning about the process that has been decided upon to take us forward in how we undertake ministry in our vast diocese, which will be underpinned from a theological point of view.
The Committee hopes that many of our faithful people from all walks of life will be able to participate in this process and give the committee a greater understanding of what their expectations are in this changing world so that we can be effective in our ministry as God’s people
The Diocesan Council (DC) has met regularly through the use of Zoom meetings to keep up with all that was needed during these past few months. It was a great cause of relief when we realized that the Clergy were all entitled to receive the “JobKeeper” payments as this has allowed us to maintain their stipends at a time when Parish income had dropped by 60% and in some cases 75%! DC made a decision to suspend payments of the CMF during this time to allow Parishes to meet other costs with the meagre resources they had.
DC also decided to review the cost of insurance for the Diocese as we had experienced an unreasonably dramatic increase in insurance premium. This is progressing well and we hope will result in a better premium cost for 2021.
As part of this DC has decided that we should sell a number of Churches and properties that are costing more to maintain than they are worth. This will include Churches at Buruja, Whitton, Grong Grong and Goolgowi. This will be necessary for the future financial wellbeing of the Diocese.
This edition covers a period of our life when there was a
Shutdown of Sunday Services. Therefore, there is not a
lot of Parish information in it. We hope to have articles for
the Spring Edition that are much more Parish focused.
Please send any article for inclusion in Four Rivers to
firstname.lastname@example.org before 31 August 2020
St Alban's Cathedral Patronal Festival
On Sunday 21 June the Cathedral celebrated its Patronal Festival: the Dean celebrated the Eucharist assisted by the Rev’d Louise Osborne and James Walsh as Licensed Lay Minister, and the Bishop preached. The following is an article that appeared in the Pew Bulletin on that day.
Several years ago a parishioner came to me to discuss the possibility of creating and gifting to the Cathedral , an image of St Alban. Her intention was to create a tapestry that would compliment the other images we have. Indeed when one researches representations of what Alban looked like, no pictures survived from the Roman period and nothing has come down from the Anglo-Saxon period either. We have however the Venerable Bede and Matthew Paris ( famous chronicler monk of the 13th century) to thank for sowing the seeds of description that have led to the myriad of images that are in the St Alban’s Cathedral and Abbey in Hertfordshire England today.
Dean Rob Harris celebrating the Eucharist assisted by
the Rev’d Louise Osborne
Yet here we are, with the establishment of our Diocese a mere 136 years ago and our parish of Griffith has been in existence as a parish since the 30th of November 1920, we have images of St Alban in the Cathedral that people and clergy have spoken about for decades.
It often strikes me when we host an annal tour of children and their teachers from St Patrick’s Primary Catholic school , who come to visit the Cathedral , we speak of St Alban in such a collective and possessive yet proud way.
For as we gather each year, close to the 22nd June our Patronal Festival, we share and celebrate the story of the life and martyrdom of Alban.
Assistant Chancellor James Walsh
It is then he becomes an example to us of how Christ is manifest in a person whose faith story is perpetuated through story , art and the creativity and giftedness of our parishioners in the life of our community of faith.
So I encourage you to view the stained glass window and the tapestry of St Alban in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament or the Triptych in the Chapel of the Angels. In doing so we should give thanks for St Alban and for the creativity of our parishioners who are moved to and will be moved in the future to create images of St Alban.
The Very Rev’d Rob Harris
Bishop Donald pronouncing the Blessing
with Dean Rob beside him
On the 2nd of July this month the Chapter of our Diocesan Cathedral met. The Second Session of the Sixty –Third Synod passed the Cathedral Ordinance 2019 and new Chapter members have been appointed and elected and we have an opportunity for ‘new beginnings’ .
The functions of the Chapter are to be available to the Bishop for consultation and advice, to foster the development of the Cathedral Church as the Mother Church of the Diocese and to facilitate the role of the Cathedral Church as a place of gathering for parishes and people of the Diocese. It is to promote and safeguard the function of the Cathedral as the parish church of the Cathedral Parish.
To also approve any alterations or additions to the fabric of the Cathedral Church or the furnishings thereof proposed by the Parish Council and to make recommendations to the Diocesan Council or the Parish Council on any matters concerning the well-being of the Cathedral Church.
To advise and consent to the Bishop on filling of any vacancy in the incumbency of the Cathedral Parish. At our initial meeting we had an opportunity to discuss the above but primarily moved a motion that: the Chapter members seek ideas from parishioners as to how they view the significance of the Cathedral and the role of the Chapter and what would they suggest for the life of the Cathedral as ‘Mother Church’ of the Diocese and its relationship between the Cathedral and the Parishes. We look forward to your feedback and input
Bishop Donald writes ...
We live in extraordinary times! This year, 2020, may have started as a year of great promise but, as you know, it quickly became something quite different with the most unbelievable and devastating fires followed by significant floods. Then to round things out we have a global pandemic—COVID-19.
I saw an amusing picture recently that suggested 2020 should be cancelled and that we should have a fresh start by beginning 2021 “next week.” Such is the negative feeling that has been associated with this year.
There is much that we have been unable to do. For quite a few months we were very restricted in what we could do. Some of these limitations have been lifted, though not all of them. We have all seen examples of how, with the easing of these restrictions, some people have forgotten all of them. I know myself that I have to remember not to shake hands—hard to do because it is such an engrained habit.
People are beginning to reap the consequences of forgetting the measures and restrictions that are designed to protect them and the whole community. Such forgetfulness has led to the disastrous situation in Victoria and to the flare up of the virus at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula. It is all very well to say “silly people, all their fault” but that is only to try removing any blame and/or responsibility from ourselves. In truth we are all responsible not only for ourselves but for one another.
The scriptures contain this teaching. Consider the Genesis account of Cain and Able. When God found Cain and demanded to know where his brother was Cain replied “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was an attempt to remove blame and responsibility from self as much as it was a denial of guilt. God’s response is to cry “What have you done!” knowing full well what had happened.
The teachings of Jesus made the message of responsibility for one another clear time and time again. When asked about the Law Jesus words summed it up very clearly and succinctly as ‘Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ Therefore, we have a responsibility to love one another and in this current time that loving takes the form of observing the social distancing requirements, sanitizing, not shaking hands, and doing all we can to protect our neighbours from the virus just as we protect ourselves.
We are privileged to be able to worship together on Sundays doing so observing social distancing and not engaging in congregational singing (a specific directive of the NSW Govt.). We will continue to do all we can to protect people and work towards a safe normality. Most important of all we must continue to pray—for our neighbours in Victoria, for those in our communities, for those working to protect people, and for those seeking a cure for the virus—as our prayers will be heard by God whose love for us never ceases and is ever present with us.
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us
from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.