Dear Friends,

I seek your continuing prayers to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up ministers, especially new vicars for vacant parishes. To be frank, generally we have lesser interest in country parish vacancies than for city vacancies, and country parishes are harder to support through the kindness of city-based clergy because of the travel involved in doing so. I would especially appreciate prayer for some current or imminent vacancies for permanent ordained leadership: Hanmer Springs, Hororata, Opawa-St. Martins, Geraldine, Oxford-Cust, Akaroa-Banks Peninsula, Westland and a new shared position covering Mayfield-Mt. Somers, Methven and Rakaia parishes.

Nevertheless, in all such parishes, the faithfulness of all God’s people, lay and ordained, is inspiring as ministry and mission continues – thank you, God; thank you, people of God! Teresa and I experienced this faithfulness firsthand when we were at All Saints, Methven on Sunday along with a very generous morning tea following the service!

Excitement is mounting as we prepare for Leading Your Church into Growth, 12-14 October 2023. Registrations close soon. Every ministry unit is invited and encouraged to bring a team. One aspect of this excitement is that many of our parishes are welcoming new people to their congregations. This conference will enhance our capacity to engage with our communities and be ever more welcoming to newcomers.

I was unable to see the first Leaders’ TV debate last night – I leave it to your judgment whether my evening was better spent at The Cathedral Grammar School’s superb production of The Sound of Music – but media response this morning suggests it was a draw. One of my wonderings, noting how close National and Labour’s policies are, and how relatively tepid those policies are in respect of the big issues of our time – such as mitigation of climate change and enhancing the productivity of our economy – is whether our leaders are timid or really good at discerning what we the voting public will actually support by way of change. The ultimate question a general election addresses is not who the next PM will be but what the voters will accept as adjustments to the status quo.

This Sunday, 24 September 2023, is Ordinary 25. The Gospel reading is Matthew 20:1-16. Should we call this the Parable of the Generous Employer or the Parable of the Ungrateful Employees? The former title points us to the extraordinary grace of God. The latter points to us being encouraged to be thankful for the grace we receive and not to compare what we receive with what others receive.

Finally, as this message is being finalised, a significant quake has occurred, centred north of Geraldine. People are safe. We will check on our churches in the area. The Priest in Charge of Geraldine, the Reverend Hugh McCafferty speaks about the quake in this Stuff live feed.