Speech by Archdeacon Patterson – Read at the Easter Vestry on April 10th 2013

This is the twenty-fourth year that I have been rector at an Easter Vestry in Knockbreda.  It is exceptionally strange not to be present and chairing the meeting and I crave your indulgence in having Gerardo read my address. I will ask Gerardo to read a personal message from me at the end of the meeting, that will appear in the May magazine. First let us deal with the important business of the night.

We are passing through a prolonged and difficult financial situation that affects us all and  the Church is in no way immune.  During this past Autumn we ran a free-will offering renewal campaign.  The full effect of this will not be evident until the end of 2013.  However, the  increase in income combined with prudent spending and reduction in some key costs, will I believe see us come through these strained times.

From last May we have the monthly outreach, “Messy Church” to un-churched families up and running.  There has been a good start, we are learning more and more how we can refine and develop this vital ministry and over this coming year we hope to see it continue to grow.  We are particularly grateful to Suyai for her leadership in forming a team to deliver this ministry.  There are real opportunities for many more people to be involved in all sorts of practical ways.  Do speak to Suyai or Gerardo and just find out what you could contribute.

September saw the introduction of ‘The Service of the Word’ at 10.00.  This adds a new item to the ‘menu’ of worship available in Knockbreda.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but the point is there are real alternatives for worship and somewhere there should be a style of service to suit you.

We are so blessed in the ministry of music that we have in Knockbreda and could so easily take for granted.  The variety and standard is I believe outstanding for a middle sized parish like ours.  I cannot begin to express my appreciation for Grace, Andrew, the choir, singers and musicians.  They give us so much and yet sometimes I don’t think we appreciate what a wonderful blessing we have.

Those who work with our young folk are special people, especially those who labour in Sunday School and Pathfinders passing on the faith.  They give so freely of themselves in such a generous way that it would be easy to take them for granted.  Their work is kingdom ministry and is precious to God and worthy of our sincerest thanks.

The regular men’s and occasional ladies’ breakfasts have found a real niche in parish life adding tremendously to the fellowship we enjoy together.  Similarly it is wonderful to see developing a work amongst younger women that offers opportunity for friendship and fun along side a spiritual emphasis.

After over five years as curate assistant with us Stanley was appointed as rector of Killinchy Union and took up position at the end of August.  It was not the easiest parish to take over as rector but he has made a great start and is settling into the work very well.

I did not secure a new curate through the normal allocations procedure.  There was therefore the real possibility that I would have been without help for over a year, as Gerardo’s two year contract with us was running out.  It was therefore a real blessing that a number of events came together.  When Gerardo and Suyai returned to Chile for furlough leave in the late summer, the Bishop of Chile honoured his pledge to ordain Gerardo.  That meant he returned to Ireland as a fully ordained minister leaving our bishop with the decision where to place him for a curacy.  I am delighted he chose to place him in Knockbreda.  Gerardo has proved to be a wonderful colleague and a blessing to us all.

My other colleagues, Linda Butterwick and Robert McAvoy could not be out passed in their thoroughness and support.  They have that knack of knowing what’s in my mind and what needs to be done and do so much to make my life easier, and as you would know all done with grace and humour.  They are a blessing to us all.

Last year we had a significant change with Edward stepping down as Honorary Secretary.  Catherine Grant stepped in to the role hesitately.  After a year she does believe it,s not the natural role for her.  I have never been happy about trying to force people into jobs they don’t have the heart for. However, I do want to thank Catherine for her year’s service and indeed to acknowledge the wonderful contribution she has made.  This is particularly true in the areas of Human Resources and Health and Safety.  Select vestries increasingly have to comply with the law in these areas, Catherine has given a great lead here and perhaps she will have the opportunity to continue to use her skills for the good of the vestry and parish.

A special word of thanks to Kathleen and Bryan for their year’s service as Church Wardens we all have a enjoyed their friendly welcome at the door and their faithfulness throughout the year.

For me, as ever, there has been one constant that has steadied my course my greatest fan and harshest critic (at least so she tells me) Eleanor, without her I would be infinitely diminished and I thank her for all she has given.

Both our Glebe wardens are stepping down this year for different reasons.  Paul Gibson is under a particularly severe workload at the moment and it is only right to let him stand down a while.  Norman Sleator is stepping down with the possibility of serving the vestry in another capacity.  Together they have proved to be an outstanding team and I could not begin to list the projects large and small that they have overseen together.  Their contribution to the practical work of this parish has been colossal.

I am grateful that Jack Mayes has consented to be my new Glebe Warden and in what may prove to be a difficult year ahead, with the need of a steady hand, I am delighted that Edward Godfrey has agreed to be my Church Warden.

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