A letter from Bishop Andrew Print E-mail

A Letter from Bishop Andrew, read to the parishioners of St Matthew's Hastings at the services on 30 July 2017.

To the Parishioners of St Matthew’s Hastings,

Greetings and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

I send you my greetings today and regret that due to travel commitments to the Bay of Plenty I am not able to be with you in person this morning. I have arranged for the Rev’d lan Render to present this letter to you in his role as Priest Assistant to the Regional Dean in Hawke’s Bay and because Ian has been closely involved with the review process across the parishes of Hastings, Mahora and Riverslea.

In the past month the parish Vestry has provided me with a thorough report in response to the tasks I set them some three months ago.

In that report the Vestry working group highlighted the commitment of the parish to respond to my challenge to consider the future financial viability of stipendiary ministry in the parish. The report also highlights the positive response of the parish to the stewardship campaign and the activity of the ten sub-groups that have been actively exploring different aspects of the mission and ministry of this parish.

I have reviewed the report carefully and taken action as required to respond to specific requests in the report.

As a result there are several important decisions that I have been required to make that I want to advise you of today.

The future of stipendiary ministry in this parish will change from a full-time Vicar to 0.75 FTE Priest-in-Charge appointment to be made at my discretion as Bishop.     [FTE = Full time equivalent]

I have made an offer to Helen Wilderspin to either accept the 0.75FTE Priest-in-Charge role or to accept notice from me that her role as Vicar will come to an end. Helen has considered this carefully and come to a decision that she will accept three months notice that her role as Vicar will end. I have given Helen that notice this week and the notice period will take effect from 1 August 2017 and end on 31 October 2017.  I have explained to Helen that she is under no obligation to work through the entire three-month notice period and we have agreed that a special service will be held on Sunday 1 October 2017, in the evening, to mark the end of Helen’s ministry as Vicar of this parish.

The Diocese has a special Sustentation Fund set aside for situations where a priest’s role as Vicar comes to an end through no fault of their own due to the parish no longer being in a position to afford a full stipend.

I will ensure that payments are made to Helen from this fund to provide her with three months’ stipend from 1 November 2017, and if Helen has not secured either stipendiary or secular employment by the end of January then another payment of three months’ stipend will be paid to Helen on 1 February 2018. The Sustentation Fund payments cover all allowances, pension contributions and housing allowances as well as the base stipend. The payments from this fund come at no direct cost to the parish.

I am in negotiations with an experienced priest and expect to announce an appointment of a Priest-in-Charge within the next month. It is likely that this priest will not be in a position to begin ministry in the parish until the beginning of 2018. I have asked the Regional Dean in Hawke’s Bay, the Rev’d David van Oeveren to provide oversight of ministry in the parish from 1 October 2017 until  the Priest-in-Charge will be able to commence ministry.

I have instructed the Vestry to prepare a letter to the Diocesan Registrar requesting a sum of $50,000 to be made available from funds held in trust  by the Waiapu Board of Diocesan Trustees on behalf of the parish in the Permanent Fund. The funds, once released, will cover the current deficit that the parish has accumulated.

The finance model based on 0.75FTE stipend is affordable and includes provision for the repayment of $50,000 back into the Permanent Fund over the next five years to  help  preserve the funds for future needs.

A 0.75FTE appointment of a Priest-in-Charge will  require some adjustment for the parish. The Priest-in-Charge will not be expected to work full-time and so there will need to be some changes to expectations about the availability of the priest in the parish.

I have met with Helen several times over the past month as we have worked through these difficult decisions. I have assured Helen of my ongoing support for her as a priest and also the continued prayerful support of my leadership team. Likewise I will continue to provide support for you as a parish primarily through the Regional Dean in Hawke’s Bay and the Diocesan Registrar. While there are still some details to work through regarding these decisions I have outlined today I am confident that we will ultimately develop the life of the parish into the future. Challenge and change can be confronting and unsettling but we turn in these times with confidence to God to seek strength and courage looking with  hope and confidence to the future.

May you be sustained by the knowledge of God’s enduring grace that is among us all.

Yours in Christ

The Rt Reverend Andrew Hedge
Bishop of Waiapu

 

Sadly our financial circumstances means a big change at St Matthew's and we have to farewell our full time Vicar, the Rev'd Helen Wilderspin on Sunday 1 October 2017.  

We pray for Helen at this difficult time, giving grateful thanks for her ministry with us, the strength and wisdom she has shown, especially over the last few months.   

We pray for God's gracious guidance for us all as we endeavour to understand the implications of the new model of ministry, for the decisions we make and the actions we take for the future of the parish and everyone involved in its life.  We pray for growth in faith, wisdom, commitment, inspiration, and love for each other as we seek to glorify God in all we do and are.

 

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