Thursday, 28 July 2011

St Paul's Centre

This Thursday will formally mark the end of an innovative Christian ministry in Adelaide. The St Paul's Centre was established as an ecumenical venture by the Anglican Church to minister not as  traditional parish but to the businesses and interests centred in the city of Adelaide. The founding director, pictured here in his later incarnation as a Bishop, Ron Williams had a quirky but entrancing vision that church could perhaps be different. I was immediate successor. And, I must admit, did not make a terribly good fist of it. 
Though I understood the vision. To be church 'outside the walls', my own personal circumstances never allowed me to be able give the energy to this ministry that it deserved.
I am told that when the Anglican church finally pulled the plug the last Director, Greg Elsdon was informed "this is an idea that has had its day". When he challenged this with the question "Who says?" there was no reply. I guess someone had decided that money that had once had been so readily committed by the Synod was needed elsewhere. The Synod apparently didn't need to be consulted.
I'm some what sad about that.
Ron had a vision for a ministry that was just narrowly Anglican. It was a cooperation of Lutheran-Anglican-Roman Catholic-Uniting Church. And though this was at times maddening, I well remember Malcolm MacArthur of the SA Council of Churches reminding me how important it was to have at least one agency where the churches were struggling to work together. In my opinion none of the member churches were fully committed to the idea.
Ron also had a vision for inter-faith ministry. this led to my involvement in the SA Council of Christians and Jews and also with some some low key involvement with members of the Islamic community.
Because  St Paul's Pulteney Street ( from the sale of which the original trust had been established) had also funded some involvement with aboriginal groups I had also been pleased to ensure that there was strong contact with groups working to advance aboriginal interests in the work-business community.
I hope (but do not hold my breath) that now the trust funds will be directed elsewhere that the powers-who-are will not forget that they have a trust to promote aboriginal interests.

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