Mark the Word – Winter 2013

Winter 2013

Wick-up call

Seeing the light

Path to an OA

Finnish line

First-class travel

An apse, perhaps

Progress Report

Wise Council

Across the board

If on a winter’s night a traveller …

The title of Calvino’s complex novel seems to sum up this issue of the newsletter, which moves from Ethiopia to India, Indonesia to Finland, Rome to England to Croatia – and home again.

There are creative journeys for our children while many writers travel spiritual as well as actual paths. All of us know the joy of homecoming, and there’s a lot to report as we move towards restoring our “home” at Mark the Evangelist Church.

I can promise you a big, but enjoyable read – and some wonderful pictures along the way. Thanks to all our wonderful contributors and to Rod Mummery for production that makes the newsletter look so good.

I wish you warmth and good cheer this winter!
Suzanne Yanko, editor
Image of the Congregation at the Pentecost Service
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Wick-up call

An Act for Peace session at Mark the Evangelist inspired the choice of an Ethiopian image for this year’s Paschal Candle, as Mireille, Rosemary and Mary recall.

Image of St George Beta Gyorgos in Lalibela, EthiopiaThis year we chose the image of the amazing church of St George Beta Gyorgos in Lalibela, Ethiopia. It has been dug directly out of deep rock and yet they got everything so straight and the right size. John (Smith) agreed it would be a strong image.

We worked out a design and colours, planning to use a pale red half way between the red colour in their flag and the earth colour, with purple shadows. Gold was to give a glow.

Our sessions preparing it were very rushed. First we sanded the masked candle, painted it with gesso standing it upright and stripped off the tape. It looked ghostly.

Image of painting the Paschal CandleThen we had our first moment of truth. Mireille and Peter had been too polite to point out that in her rush, Mary had masked the candle upside down with the wick at the bottom! We all laughed ourselves silly. (Once alpha and omega were reversed the candle could be the right way up.)

In the second session we had our first try at colour with 9 helpers on the day of John’s farewell. It was pretty wild. After mixing the colours everyone had a go and when the tape was peeled off the lines were straight but rather blotchy. The final coat was very fiddly to do and was done on a quieter day mainly by Mireille (9), with Sam (3) doing the red stripe with Catherine. (Sam said red is now his favourite colour.)

The candle looked pretty cool when the tape was peeled off and the stripes were straight. Some gold dots were added to the cross to give it texture.

Image of Candles at the Pentecost Service

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Seeing the light

Far away, in India, children are being given new hope – as this heartening story by Bill Mathew tells.

(Dehra Dun, India)

There are 37 million blind people in the world. Of this number, a staggering number of 15 million live in India. This is not surprising because blindness is mainly associated with poverty, and India has the largest world population of poor. Eighty per cent of blindness can be prevented or cured by modern medicine. Not surprisingly, a shortage of ophthalmologists and donated eyes for corneal blindness are major problems in India. Not to mention the fact that most blind people cannot afford even the bus fare to go to see a specialist doctor, let alone pay for the treatment.

Recently, while staying with family at Mussoorie, 350 km north of New Delhi, I had an opportunity to visit the Sharp Memorial School for the Blind in nearby Dehra Dun, a city situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. The School was founded by Miss Annie Sharp as an independent Christian institution depending on donations of well-wishers for its operation. Sharp family members and friends and benefactors in India supported the school with voluntary work and money. In 1930, the Sharp family handed over the school to the Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship, now known as Interserve. The school is the oldest school for the blind in India, accepting children regardless of caste or creed.

By 1986, the school was in dire financial straits and was on the verge of closing when Mr and Mrs P.S. Samuel, a Christian couple from Kerala, took over the running of the school. By dint of hard work, they increased the funding from various sources and upgraded the school from year 5 to BA degree level, and lifted the morale of the staff. Education is given in Braille code for the totally blind. Subjects taught are reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, hygiene, English, Hindi, home science, computer training and music. There is a good computer laboratory for training visually impaired children. The school is integrated with poor-sighted children from nearby villages. An industrial workshop for hand and machine knitwear turns out high quality products that contribute part of the school’s income.

Image of Sharp Memorial School for the Blind Dehra Dun, India The Samuels say with great pride that the children study from KG (Kindergarten) to BA degree level. Four children have advanced to take their MA in English literature and sociology. Eleven have completed computer training and have become computer trainers. One student had surgery that gave her sufficient vision to become a nurse. Graduates from the school work in different parts of India for example as computer trainers, bank clerks and teachers in both specialised blind and standard schools. Many are married and settled in life.
Many students have won state and national awards in painting competitions. Asking how blind children could produce pictures, I was told that with tactile paint, the children use finger or whole hand learning to make various shapes, particularly flowers, trees, animals and birds. Some of the award-winning paintings have been used by the State Government to produce thousands of prints as greeting cards amongst State agencies.

The School is an oasis with well-manicured lawns, gardens, and playgrounds amidst the hustle and bustle of the city of Dehra Dun. There is even a herd of cows to provide milk for the needs of the children.

I asked Mr Samuel what he would like to have most in the school. Aware that I am a scientist, he said that he wanted an inexpensive computer monitor to be developed so that the totally blind can read what is on the screen. That will open a new vista of life for them.

My visit to this wonderful school was a rewarding experience, and affirmed for me that my India has many stories of hope and inspiration and achievement, along with the violence and social problems that come to the fore in our news media. It also demonstrated at first hand what a difference Christians can make in living out their faith.

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Path to an OA
Image of Hugh O'Neil at the Pentecost ServiceWe at Mark the Evangelist felt a great surge of pride that “one of us” was honoured in the Australia Day list with the Order of Australia. The citation read:

“Hugh Andrew O’Neill, North Melbourne, Vic. For distinguished service to architecture, through contributions to tertiary education and the fostering of relations with Asia, particularly Indonesia.”

(More detail at

Invited to submit his story for the newsletter, Hugh gave us this typically idiosyncratic snapshot of his life:

Indonesia in the 1950s –

“Living opposite Burke Hall – Xavier Junior School with neighbours Daniel Mannix, Christian Brothers and Carmelite nuns – our salvation was the name O’Neill! The church in Cotham Road (by architect Evander McIver) with a spire taller than the dome of Sacred Heart opposite was the setting for no ecumenical intercommunication.

Kew state school “religious” instructor Mr McCracken of The Brethren – Inner or Open (?) – was sometimes difficult to avoid in High Street when he hooked us by the arm with his umbrella. If “The Way to Heaven” wasn’t word perfect there was trouble!

We were sorry for the Baptists and Methodists – their churches were also in Highbury Grove – who weren’t encouraged to learn ballroom dancing from Madame Bindley on the state school bitumen. At puberty I church-shopped in search of inspiration when siblings John and Katharine were contemplating theological study within a few years. Our bible class leader seemed to me to be deluded! The sermons were often less interesting than the Sunday hats and after church critiques became light amusement!

With horizons expanding at university Herb Feith’s stories at the 1953 SCM conference at Toc H camp, Point Lonsdale, about living and working in Jakarta, were inspiration in the search for a remote vantage point to gain vistas of the Australian colony.
The Volunteer Graduate Scheme set up in the same year by Frank Engel, Don Anderson, Jim Webb and others, and funded by the Menzies government, coincided with employment producing working drawings for International House in Royal Parade – designed by two architecture lecturers.

The diffusions of Kew life expanded exponentially watching the ’56 Olympic Games soccer final between Russia and Indonesia at the MCG, and meeting the Indonesian contingent!

The gospel stories seemed betrayed by St Paul’s tedium, but living with families Hudyuro Sontoyudo and Karyomanggolo in Jakarta and Bandung from 1958 was made immensely intriguing by dusk-to-dawn Radio Republik Indonesia broadcasts of politically contextualised old myths from India. These Javanese interpretations, four times a week, brought this side of the Middle East into perspective. The superb modulating voices and gamelan music – even without being able to view the actors or puppets – were mesmerising!

At the same time English language fluency ensured that street life was constantly provoking – male-to-male hand holding to aid the flow of inspiration was only one surprising factor, male-to-female in public places was considered obscene! Jakarta came to life on my first Independence Day celebrations on August 17th ’58 when thousands, including a cohort wearing dungarees and carrying red hammer and sickle banners, marched past our place to the vast arena where Sukarno eloquently made a three-hour speech. I wandered the suburbs where residents’ radios were audible everywhere! Our fellow Kew church member Bob Menzies never made a city of millions resound with his condescending voice!

It was forever fascinating working as a public servant of the Ministry of Public Works and Power, designing public housing and teaching students of architecture from almost every province of the sprawling nation. However the greatest inspiration was living closely with Javanese on their extraordinary island, half the size of Victoria and with a population (now) of 130,000,000 spread around nineteen active volcanoes.

It set up related experiences within Indonesia and beyond, in exploring other cultures of our region and sharing these experiences with generations of students here.”

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Finnish line

From an architect in Indonesia to architecture on the other side of the world, thanks to John Langmore’s visit to The Church of the Rock, Helsinki.

Image of Temppeliaukion kirkko (Lutheran Church in the Rock) ExteriorAt 11 am on our first Sunday in Helsinki Wendy and I joined the mostly Finnish congregation for a memorable service in the Temppeliaukion kirkko, the Lutheran Church in the Rock. The church was as built in the 60s by excavating the granite from the rocky crown of a hillock near the centre of the city.

The rough rock walls give the sense of being linked with the earth – and create a superb acoustic. A stunning copper canopy stretches across the centre of ceiling which is linked with the walls by a couple of hundred glass panels, which on a clear day illuminate the sanctuary. There is an arresting asymmetry about the spacing of the simple, floor-level pulpit, the table, organ and choir stalls.

Though the service was in Finnish the liturgy felt familiar and had a tranquil orderliness. All readings and prayers were led from the floor, creating an egalitarian sense of participation. The beautiful music included both organ pieces and a young woman soloist who played a Baltic instrument which was laid flat and strummed as well as plucked. The eucharist was taken at the communion rail with the wine poured from the chalice into little individual metal cups. Sometimes to sit, uncomprehending, through a graceful, peaceful, harmonious service, conducted with dignity – natural authority even – is a redeeming renewal.

During coffee afterwards I asked the worship leader about the subject of his sermon and he said ‘Unselfishness’. We also talked with a couple who are active in the church, the wife having in the past worked with the World Student Christian Federation in Amsterdam, so we had much in common.

The site is so important that an architectural competition was held which was won by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. Construction began in February 1968, and the rock-temple was completed for consecration in September 1969. The church is used frequently as a concert venue.

Image of Temppeliaukion kirkko (Lutheran Church in the Rock) InteriorThe Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually. Comments listed on the web include:

  • ‘This is serenely beautiful. It feels warm and cozy due to the natural rock walls, yet uplifting due to the glass ceiling and copper surrounds. It is more secular than religious but feels holy just the same.’
  • ‘The dark and warm interior provides a beautiful place for worship.’
  • ‘Having been built into solid rock, the rough granite walls of the church confer a natural, unassuming spirituality.’

We were so inspired that we returned two weeks later. A Czech choir was visiting, so to attempt to cross the language barrier English was use in parts of the service and we were further enriched.

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First-class travel

Dr Robert Gribben, also travelling overseas, experienced a wider sense of “church” – in two iconic places.

Image of Robert Gribben with Pope Francis

Introducing Mrs Gillian Kingston (Ireland), Hon. President of the World Methodist Council, to Pope Francis.

There is an old joke about a Pope preaching in St Peter’s on the subject of humility – but the basilica shouted him down. I have recently been witness to this battle in the inaugural liturgies in both Rome and Canterbury. What took place in St Peter’s square on 19th March was not an enthronement (in any case, the Pope was later seated in his cathedra in St John Lateran), but the Inizio del Ministro Petrino del Vescovo di Roma, the beginning of the Bishop of Rome’s ministry as Peter. That is a large enough claim, but the language is here notably understated. Thus, at the opening, Francis received the pallium, a band of cloth made of lambswool, signifying ‘the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders, and carries to the waters of life’ (Benedict XVI). He was then given the ‘Fisherman’s ring’ with its image of Peter, and of the net thrown out into the sea to win men and women to Christ. What followed was as simple a mass presided over by the Bishop of Rome among his people (100,000 of them in the open air) as possible in the circumstances. That bishop, without red slippers or the fur-trimmed red cape, presided with palpable humanity and serenity. He has carried it through in his washing of the feet of imprisoned young men and women outside the walls of the Vatican, by contrast with the sanitized version of his predecessors. At the audience for ecumenical and inter-religious guests the next day, a displaced grand throne was visible through the open door of an anteroom while the Pope sat on a formal but modest chair of the same design of that occupied for the first time since 1054 by a Patriarch of Constantinople.

The thorough arrangements by Lambeth Palace for the hospitality of ecumenical guests at the inizio of the new archbishop of Canterbury were thrown into disarray, at least for a group of us, by the invitation to a papal inauguration two days’ distant from it. Some ecumenical representatives were faced with the choice of missing the papal audience or their plane to the next event. I changed flights and only missed one Anglican party; I also missed the last train to Canterbury and had to find accommodation in central London at one in the morning – a slight experience of homelessness in the near-deserted streets. One friend had asked me to remember the poor and marginalized amidst the pomp and power, and this was an apt reminder. And so to Canterbury Cathedral on pilgrimage by fast train at 6 a.m. – and to a service of worship which at no point contained the word ‘enthronement’. Justin Welby was ‘placed in the Chair of St Augustine’ for the first time in history by an archdeacon who was a woman. There were other touches from Justin Welby’s hand: when he struck the great west door with his pastoral staff, he was greeted by a young Indian girl, a member of the usual congregation, who asked him ‘Who are you and why do you request entry?’ The liturgical conversation was a little formal, but let an archbishop listen first to the questions of a child! His cope and mitre were pre-loved, handed down from a bishop who had been his mentor. Justin, who is a Benedictine oblate, had clearly planned a Franciscan simplicity in his inauguration, before the Jesuit Pope did. Notable also was the choice of hymns – ancient and modern, classic Anglican and charismatic song, a Punjabi hymn (Saranam, saranam) and – I must record – the final hymn, with 2000 voices and the choir, magnificent organ and trumpets, Charles Wesley’s And Can it Be?, was an ecstatic moment for more than me.

Well, what was it all like? In Rome, the World Methodist Council (whom I had the honour of representing, together with Gillian Kingston, a leading laywoman of the church in Ireland) walked through the cobbled streets at 7 a.m., and even then crowds were gathering, to meet our coach party at the Venerable English College. That added a solemn note: in the reign of the first Elizabeth, young men who had been trained there for the priesthood there were smuggled back into England to face a dreadful death if they were caught, and 44 were. And many Anglicans were similarly martyred a generation earlier under her sister, the Catholic Queen Mary. With a mutual prayer for forgiveness, we set off, preceded by a police car with siren blaring and lights flashing. Familiar names with us included the Archbishop of York, John Sentanu – Ugandan-born, in a purple velvet Tudor bonnet, David and Margie Richardson from Melbourne, from the Anglican Centre in Rome, his successor, Archbishop David Moxon from New Zealand, and the Australian prior of the Benedictine monastery from which Pope Gregory sent St Augustine to Canterbury in 597 AD, Fr Peter Hughes OSB Cam.

The day was wintry, but the whole piazza was warmed in cloudless sunlight. To our left beside the altar, were the cardinals, then the large Orthodox delegation. Notable among the other ecumenical guests were the presidents of both the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the World Evangelical Alliance, looking slightly under-dressed in business suits. Behind me was Linda Bond, General of the Salvation Army; beside me, Larry Miller, the Mennonite secretary of the Global Christian Forum, the group facilitating contact between Catholic, Orthodox, other World Council of Churches members, with those who have played no part in the ecumenical movement, nor previously desired to- the burgeoning numbers of charismatic and conservative evangelical churches and movements across the globe. Given such a crowd, it will be no surprise that the most fruitful outcome of this extraordinary journey has been the opportunity to meet old friends and make new contacts among the full spectrum of the changing Christian world. As we walked back to our bus, I met Cardinal George Pell and the new Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, and greeted Brother Alois, prior of Taizé, and Brother Enzo Bianchi, prior of the more recent ecumenical community at Bose in northern Italy.

Image of Robert Gribben with  the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Speaking to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, (in black) in the Old Palace. Centre is the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, who was my minder. Mrs Caroline Welby in the background.

And similar things might be said of the Canterbury celebration. The cathedral declared its historic message, certainly, and the established nature of the Church of England was there signaled in the presence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minister, the judiciary fully wigged, and chancellors of several universities. The overwhelming thing for me was the sheer number of bishops from across the Anglican world, uniformly in rochet and chimere, a mighty army in red and white.

This brought me back to my first reason for setting forth on this six week safari: the final meeting of the current round of AMICUM, the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission, in Jamaica. We too are aware that, above all things, the Anglican counts itself an episcopal Church. Curiously, it is now possible to say the same about world Methodism: the Australian (now in union with Presbyterians and Congregationalists) and New Zealand churches, and their British model, are now in a minority. But the question is: What kind of Bishops? We have tried to trace the history of the different understandings of episcopacy and place them in contemporary context of two churches, who in all other ways find it possible to work together in mission and service. We have reviewed several ways in which the two communions have sought, and might be enabled to recognize each other, so that mutual exchange of ordained ministries was possible. The report will be sent, early in 2014, to the local churches, including our Australian two (whose formal dialogue must be amongst the world’s least fruitful). I hope it may refresh the conversation between us. And in the renewed spirit of St Francis, we might listen again to the apostle Peter: ‘All of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind’ (1 Pet.3:8). Only then might we find a way forward.

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An apse, perhaps

And, connecting travels with issues at home, Rob Gallacher ponders on the inspiration that might come … from an apse, perhaps

Since planning for property development is so prominent at the moment, I wondered if a study of a couple of churches in the sixth century might stimulate our thinking.

Image of St Euphrasius' church in Porec, CroatiaLast year I stood in amazement, gazing at the apse mosaic in St Euphrasius’ church in Porec, Croatia. The charming local guide was telling us that 81% of the tiles were original, dated at 553 AD, so I asked her, “What was the liturgy that was being used when the mosaic was designed?” She avoided the question.

At the top, there is Christ, beardless and sitting on an orb, ruling the whole world at the end of time. Beneath is the lamb of God, and below that again is Mary nursing the Christ child. On one side, a little lower, is the Annunciation, and on the other side, completing the triangle, is the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. (Our guide wanted us to know that this is a rare representation of a pregnant Mary.)

I was coming to the view that the three scenes featuring Mary weren’t about Mary at all. They emphasise the incarnation, and point to the coming of Jesus in a very human manner. If this is so, then the vertical axis moves from the Christ child, to the lamb slain for our salvation, to the victorious Pantocrator (ruler of all).

It’s a visual commentary on Philippians chapter 2: Though he was in the form of God, … he emptied himself … being born in human likeness … and became obedient to the point of death … therefore God has highly exalted him … so that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is also the basic scheme on which the liturgy of Chrysostom is based.

It is probable that this would have been the basis of worship in Croatia in the sixth century. (Many Orthodox churches still use all three hours of it. Cranmer made it the basis for the English Book of Common Prayer in the sixteenth century, and from there we have echoes of it in the service we use each Sunday.) Central to the service is thanksgiving for the coming of Christ into our world, and our being made one with him through consuming the elements. They are his body broken on the cross, the lamb that was slain since the foundation of the world. So we are raised with him, and the whole company of saints, to do his work and see his glory. It is exactly the movement visually presented in the grand mosaic of the apse, as it rises directly above the altar where the liturgy is celebrated.

As I stood there, contemplating, it was so clear, and so exciting, that I consulted the art history expert who was travelling with us, and explained my insights. He looked blank. Then he told me that the scenes about Mary were probably part of a cycle of the life of Mary, the other scenes having been destroyed. And that was all. I was deflated. Was my brilliant perception just wishful thinking, a product of my imagination?

It was, therefore, with great glee, and relief, that I discovered an analysis of the apse at St Catherine’s Monastery at Mt Sinai. This apse was constructed at exactly the same time, in the middle of the sixth century. It features the Transfiguration. Here’s is an excerpt from Solrunn Nes. She writes about this apse in her book “The Uncreated Light”:
Through the intermingling of liturgy and iconography time and space can be experienced as being suspended. The space is “here” and the time is “now”. The Transfiguration at Tabor becomes the Transfiguration in the monastic church at Sinai. The Church repeats liturgically what Christ did historically.

Nes emphasises the vertical axis in this mosaic at St Catherine’s. Above the central figure of the glorified Christ is the cross, and above that, in the centre of the arch over the cross is the lamb. The cross and the lamb tell us of Christ’s saving sacrifice, which is remembered every time the Eucharist is celebrated on the altar which stands directly beneath these symbols. Art and liturgy connect, bringing the past into the present in the liturgy. As the eye continues upward from the lamb, there are two east facing windows admitting the light of dawn. Each morning the light conquers the darkness during the service. Beside the windows we see Moses removing his sandal at the epiphany of the burning bush, and on the other side is Moses receiving the covenant of the law, when his face shone. The hand of God appears above both sections, which, with the surrounding gold background takes us into the presence of God and the life of heaven. As the eye descends beneath the radiant Christ, there is a worldly Peter, overwhelmed by the vision. Beneath Peter is a face named as David, but which has the likeness of Justinian, the emperor who commissioned the apse. Both were seen as rulers under God, and responsible to the old covenant (David) and the new covenant (Justinian). There is more, but, to make my central point about connecting the liturgy with the sanctuary in which it is celebrated, it is enough to quote from the Abbot of St Catherine’s, Father Damianos, who says:
For more than fourteen hundred years, on every single day, the monks of Sinai have … participated in the early service that commences before dawn. Over them all, the splendid sixth century mosaic adorns the apse. … As the Divine Liturgy reaches its triumphal culmination, the first rays of the sun break through the apse windows. Shafts of subtle morning light pierce the darkness, illuminating the basilica with ever increasing intensity. The mosaic scintillates in an ineffable brilliance. … What was felt as a discernible presence to this point now becomes a most vivid and palpable reassurance the Uncreated Light of Mt Tabor is a living light that illuminates all those = monastic and lay alike – who seek in humility and purity of heart their union with God. (Byzantium: Faith and Power. P 340)

After reading this, I felt that my point about the vital link between the motif in the apse and the worship of the congregation was reasonably well established, and that art historians, and local guides, ought to recognise it.

So, when we at North Melbourne are considering the redevelopment of property we should be careful where we begin. Perhaps an apse mosaic is a bit beyond reach. And some will say that our tradition is iconoclastic and should focus on the word, not the visual. They say, “Are not a table, a font and a lectern all that is necessary for Reformed worship?” Well, yes.

But, on the other hand, is not the Uniting Church a new church, and does not the Basis of Union stress our link with the church universal? It is not outrageous to suggest that we start with liturgy, the celebration of the Eucharist. Then we can consider the physical environment in which that worship is set. Finally, having established the sanctuary, we might profitably consider how to build a godly community around it. If this is the sequence of our thought, inspiration may well come from an apse … perhaps!

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Progress Report

Editor’s note: As we bring these wonderful reflections close to home, and planning for our own beloved church’s restoration, it may be time to lighten the mood … briefly!
There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program.

“The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”

North Melbourne Uniting Church Centre

How are we progressing with our NMUCC Restoration and Renewal Project?

A lot has been going on behind the scenes to enable our Project to proceed, even though it has taken some time for new approval and implementation procedures to emerge out of the current Uniting Church financial sustainability crisis.

Property Sales to raise funds

Church Council and the Congregation resolved this year to sell the Manse and College Church Hall in Gatehouse Street to raise the bulk of the funds needed for the NMUCC Restoration and Renewal Project. Nelson Alexander was selected to manage the property sales. The Synod Property Board at its meeting in April resolved to defer a decision on the sale of these two properties until their May meeting following a decision by the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania at the beginning of May to declare Special Circumstances to enable the sale of properties to ensure the Church’s financial sustainability. It is hoped and expected that well-advanced restoration projects such as ours will be allowed to proceed as planned without further delay.

Project Implementation

The Synod Property Board has decided that stronger governance arrangements and professional advice has to be provided for UCA congregations to undertake building projects exceeding $1 million in value. One important outcome is that a Project Control Group has been set up to advise Church Council at each critical stage of the project. Church Council has welcomed this change, even though the introduction of these new arrangements has delayed the completion date of our Project.

The NMUCC Project Control Group meets monthly. Its members include Rod Mummery (Mark the Evangelist), Greg Hill (Mark the Evangelist), Alan Chuck (Yarra Yarra Presbytery Resourcing Committee), Ken Santamaria (Project Manager, from Case Meallin and Associates), Paul Walec (Director, Property Services, occasional attendee), and Alan Wilkinson (NMUCC Project Coordinator and chair of this Group).

The Charter of the Project Control Group is to:

  • provide a governance and reporting structure for the Project;
  • ensure the Missional Goals are being achieved, as encouraged by the Synod’s Mission Motivated Development approach;
  • ensure the current Project Approval Process is being followed;
  • ensure that the Project Implementation Process and disciplines are being followed;
  • agree the appointment of all consultants, including the Lead Architect;
  • review the architect’s sketch and concept of what the building might look like;
  • get an opinion from a quantity surveyor on the likely building cost;
  • seek other expert input such as structural, mechanical, civil engineering, etc.;
  • oversee the Project and its building program;
  • oversee the funding required;
  • monitor the Project Budget on a monthly basis;
  • report on a monthly basis to Hotham Parish through its Finance and Property Committee; and
  • report on a quarterly basis to the Synod Property Applications Review Team and the Director, Property Services.

As the NMUCC Project concepts and budget had been approved by the Property Board late last year, Church Council accepted the recommendation of the NMUCC Project Control Group that Jason Williams, of Price Williams and Associates, be appointed as lead architect. Jason Williams cannot be formally contracted until the outcome is known of the Property Board consideration in May of the two Hotham Parish sale applications.
However the draft standard Client Architect Agreement between Hotham Parish and Price Williams Architects is being reviewed in detail in preparation for a recommendation from the 27 May Project Control Group meeting to the Finance and Property Committee.
The Synod Property Board is adamant that the Parish’s restoration and renewal project is solidly grounded in its mission. Church Council has followed this approach and has clearly described its vision and mission in the various approval application forms. A summary of the Congregation’s mission goals has been prepared for Church Council endorsement at its June meeting.

Master Plan

On 9 and 23 February Hotham Parish held discernment sessions facilitated by Randall Lindstrom. These sessions were the first stage of the process which will lead over coming months to the preparation of the Master Plan for the North Melbourne Uniting Church Centre.
At the second session, members of the Advisory Group identified the space needs of the congregation in the short to medium term. These ‘space needs’ have been refined between Jason Williams and the Master Plan Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee is now planning the community survey work in May and June which will inform the Advisory Group about ways in which organisations in our local community would like to make use of facilities in the North Melbourne Uniting Church Centre.
With this information, Randall Lindstrom will be in a position to complete the brief and proceed to design Master Plan options for our consideration.

Fund Raising for the Project

The Finance and Property Committee have decided that attention should first be given to a fund-raising brochure for the Congregation. An externally targeted fund-raising brochure will be considered later when our vision for the future is clearer within our Master Plan.

Project Development Plan

The timeline for the Project has slipped considerably since December 2012. The various delays encountered since then will be incorporated into the Development Plan once the lead architect is appointed, hopefully at the end of May.

NMUCC Project website

Regular progress reports (in between the quarterly issues of Mark the Word) can be found on the NMUCC website. Copy and paste> into your computer browser, click on the ‘Restoration and Renewal Progress’ tab, and then on ‘Progress Reports’. If you are looking for more detail on the Project, click on the ‘Document access’ tab and then on ‘Mark the Evangelist Congregation’ and insert the password Mark3051. You will now be able to open up the Key applications and relevant attachments. Don’t hesitate to raise any queries you may have with Alan Wilkinson. He can provide you with documents if you do not have access to a computer.

Image of Balloons and Flowers at the Pentecost Service

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Wise Council

Endings, Beginnings & Changes – a report & reflection from Church Council*

Cutting of the Ties for John Smith

A special Cutting of the Ties service to mark the end of John Smith’s Ministry was held under the auspices of the Presbytery of Yarra Yarra on 24/2/2013. The Hall was filled to capacity, with attendance by friends and former parishioners, and the worship service was followed by speeches, fellowship and refreshments.

Howard Wallace returned to North Melbourne to offer the tribute on behalf of the Congregation, and spoke of the significance of John’s ministry at North Melbourne.

During the thirteen years of his ministry at North Melbourne, John gave us good preaching and rich liturgies. These years have encompassed also the formal celebration of 150 years of worship in North Melbourne, the preparation for repairing and restoring the church, and the advancement of a planning process for redevelopment of the Curzon Street site to promote active engagement with community. John’s envisioning of possible futures has been a great gift to the congregation, and while progress has been slowed due to the fraud and its very sad aftermath, a restructured Parish is moving forward once more to implement the repair work, and progress a master plan for usage of the site.

There were numerous significant challenges during John’s time at North Melbourne and we are thankful that as a result of his Ministry, the Congregation is in good heart and well-placed to continue to develop and implement its future and enhance its interface with the local community.

Changes within Church Council & Committees

  • Sue Blackwood completed her term as Elder on 25/3/2013, and Church Council expresses its warm appreciation for Sue’s years of faithful service.
  • Gaye Champion has been co-opted to Church Council, as Chair of UnitingCare Hotham Mission.
  • A newly constituted Finance & Property Committee has been formed with membership of Mark Duckworth, Greg Hill (ex officio), Rod Mummery, Peter Rayner (Chairperson), David Sutherland (Secretary), Alan Wilkinson.

Change at Christ Church, Kensington

Jane Robertson’s term as Priest-in-Charge concluded on 28/4/2013. A farewell for Jane from The Congregation of Mark the Evangelist is pending Jane’s availability. Jane has already commenced her new posting as Chaplain at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The Presbytery of Yarra Yarra is conferring with the Anglican Diocese to progress a replacement at Kensington. The new Minister will be a Uniting Church minister.

A Baptism on Mark the Evangelist Day

Gwen led us in a rich and joyful celebration for Mark the Evangelist Day on 28/4/2013. The Holy Baptism of Liam Samuel Blackwood also brought joy to the day, and Peter Blackwood celebrated this Baptism. The informal lunch that followed was an occasion of warm fellowship.

A hearty thank you to all who contributed, and especially to Bev Wendelken who coordinated the hospitality. Perhaps this joyful celebration was providential in preparing us for the circumstance of the following week.


Image of the lighting of the Paschal CandleWe have been gifted with Gwen’s supply ministry which began on 3/3/2013.
It was Gwen’s difficult task to inform Church Council at its meeting on 2/5/2013 of the untimely death on that day of Tanya King, a shocking and very sad end. The worship service on 5/5/2013 began with an expression of lament that moved to an affirmation of hope for all.

Church Council acknowledges the pastoral concern and care extended at this time by Yarra Yarra Presbytery through Morag Logan. Council also places on record its deepest appreciation for the sensitivity, wisdom and calm with which Gwen has responded in supporting the Congregation and leading it throughout this time.

Church Council hopes very much that the debriefing that will take place on 27/5/2013 and 3/6/2013 will assist the Congregations in an understanding of the facts and reconciliation in what is now part of our history, so that collectively we are able to support each other and rebuild broken relationships.

Gwen Ince led a memorable worship service in which all members of the Congregation were invited to participate in enacting Pentecost on 19/5/2013. The Elm Street Hall glowed warmly: from the fiery colours of the lovely flowers (thank you, Sue Blackwood) to the red balloons festooning the Hall, including our chairs, to the tongues of fabric “fire” that were fanned by an artfully placed air-blower, to the coloured candles that glowed during the service. Donald – of course – improvised wonderfully evocative sounds that mimicked the sound of a rushing wind assisted by the children on a range of musical instruments!

Thank you to Wendy Langmore, Mary Sutherland, Rosemary Wearing, Alan Wilkinson and Ann Wilkinson, and particular thanks to Gwen for envisioning a worship service that incorporated rich meaning and also fun for all! We were reminded in the sermon of the soaring power of the spirit.

A reminder that our Minister in Placement, the Rev Dr Craig Thompson, will commence on 1/7/2013. Craig will move to the designated Manse in North Melbourne at the end of the year.

At this time in particular, where change and challenge appear to be constant, Church Council continues to encourage feedback from all members of the Congregation both ad hoc and through regular congregational meetings.

* Church Council members: Gaye Champion, Gwen Ince, Wendy Langmore, Gus MacAulay, Heather Mathew, Rod Mummery, David Sutherland, Alan Wilkinson, and Ann Wilkinson.

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Across the board



The debriefing aims to provide a community debriefing for members of the congregations of Christ Church Kensington and Mark the Evangelist North Melbourne as a result of the fraud against Hotham Parish. All members are encouraged to attend the 2 sessions so that there is a shared understanding of what is now a part of our history and so that we can move on to a new stage of life, as congregations and individuals.

The facilitator will be the Revd Canon Stephen Ames of the Institute for Ministry Development

The program will be conducted over the two Monday nights for all members of the congregations who wish to attend, and will be held in the Elm Street Hall.


Rev Dr Gwen Ince’s supply Ministry concludes.


The induction of the Rev Dr Craig Thompson as Minister in Placement will take place on Tuesday 2nd July 2013 at 7.30 p.m. in the Elm Street Hall.


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Wishing you a warm and peaceful winter!

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