Sunday, October 18, 2009

St Luke's Concord

Today my sister and I worshipped at St Luke's Concord. It was the 150th Anniversary of the laying of the Church Foundation stone and our first visit back since the memorial service for our mother on July 12, 2006.

Mum worshipped there, firstly in her young married life,  and my sister was baptised in the church. Mum returned there not long after Dad died and attended for another 30 years although in her last 5 years she could only go, mainly to the Wednesday Senior Fellowship, if my sister drove her.  The memorial service for Mum was held as part of the regular Senior fellowship.

The church today was packed, the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, a delightful lady was present. Our State Governors are not politicians but appointed to represent the Queen.

My sister knew a lot of the older people who had been friends of Mum and were delighted to see us there. I only went there for Christmas services with Mum.

The lady sitting next to me was there in memory of her Grandfather, baptised at St Luke's in the 1880's and she had the signed prayer book with her. He went on to become an Anglican Priest.

Some of the past rectors were present. One, Rev Feldham, officiated at my sister's wedding in a neighbouring church way back in 1961 while still an assistant. We had not seen him since and I remember him as a young handsome priest (I was only 17), oh how life has passed for us.

When the previous rector retired a year ago, I was concerned that the Archbishop might appoint an evango-fundie. I need not have worried. The new rector processed in wearing a biretta. I only know one other church in Sydney where these are worn and it is the other city church which is more Anglo-catholic than St James, King Street.

However neither ++Jensen nor the regional Bishop Forsythe attended, thankfully.

In the altar party was deacon Rev Sue Emeleus who was serving at St Luke's in my mother's time and greatly beloved by Mum. Sue anointed Mum with holy oil from Jerusalem a few days before Mum died and officiated at Mum's cremation and memorial services. I have come to know Sue much better since that time and was so pleased that Sue gave me the cup using my name. That meant that my sister received it from another person which disappointed her. Sue will always be special to us both.

Like many Anglican churches in the middle suburbs of Sydney, numbers are declining as the population is largely immigrant but the church building is also used by the Korean Presbyterians and a group of them took part in national costume, playing national instruments. They played 'How great thou art' which I love as well as 'Amazing grace' which I loathe. Some verses were sung in Korean.

A moving service for an old (by Australian standards) church which has such memories for my family.


motheramelia said...

Sounds like a very nice service all in all. I'm curious, is a woman deacon in Australia called a "deaconess"? I inquire because here in the US there were "deaconesses" before women were allowed to be ordained to the diaconate and priesthood. That group, now nearly died out, kept the title "deaconess." They were expected to remain single and did wonderful work for the church, but were not ordained, but essentially under vows. Now women who are ordained are called deacons, as are men. In koine Greek, it is a masculine word but was used for both men and women (Phoebe for example was a "diakonos" (deacon) for the Church). In this diocese and many others the term "deacon" is used for the vocational or permanent diaconate, while "transitional deacon" is used for those moving in the priesthood. It sounds as though your experience with the deaconess was a positive one. I know a number of fine deacons and support their ministries wholeheartedly.

Brian R said...

I will need to ask Sue the next time I see her, Amelia. I have changed her title in my post to deacon and googling her name shows both terms used.
When I was young, many parishes had a deaconess assisting the rector who was often unmarried but not necessarily so. They were not ordained. Sue is certainly married and has been ordained. Deacons were men in the last stage of becoming priests and this was usually only a stage of one perhaps two years. Now Sydney Diocese is ordaining men and women to the diaconate but there is no intention they will ever become priests. Certainly not the women but it is also intended that some of the men will work in specialist areas and never be placed in charge of a parish. This is part of the push for lay administration. The Sydney Diocese does not put much emphasis on the Eucharist, they believe preaching the word to be more important. Therefore they are not concerned that women celebrate the Eucharist (although preferably just for women and children) but are concerned that women not be seen to teach or lead men. Sue would dearly love to become a priest. Many Sydney women in her position have moved to other dioceses which is Sydney's loss. If you were to visit Sydney officially you would just be regarded as a deacon. Even Bishop Penny Jamieson was regarded as a deacon when visiting. My opinion of this situation is unprintable. I regard these misogynists with utter contempt. At St James and other similar churches within the diocese we joyfully welcome and listen to women preaching.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brian,

Thanks for your explanation about Sydney Anglicans on Dr Ackeroff's site. Without any formidable opposition The Sydney Anglican management seem to have absolutely no conscience. I suppose when a group are not held accountable then they can be a law unto themselves. I feel that they have used the Anglican Church's money to create their own form of religion. Perhaps the lack of funds may prevent any further bastardisation of the Anglican tradition. I watched Compass last night!

From a fellow Sydney Sider

Brian R said...

Thanks for commenting anonymous. I have copied your remarks at 'Unthinking Anglicans' and intend posting about them soon. I did not watch Compass last night but plan to download the program when it becomes available. Late Sunday night is not good for me and I did not want to go to bed seething with anger. I will try to view it in small manageable doses

June Butler said...

What a lovely old church. And it's part of your family history. I'm glad that you and your sister were able to attend the anniversary celebration.

I haven't seen a priest of any denomination wearing a biretta for a very long time.

Brian R said...

Hi again Anon
I have now downloaded and watched the Compass program. I was pleased to see that Rev Chris Albany from St Mark's South Hurstville was given a chance to put the case for true Anglicanism and even display their open welcome for gay people.
I would be happy for you to email me privately and ensure you of my utmost discretion.