ST THOMAS’ – BEFORE I FORGET (NO.2)

Dear Friends,

When I came to St Thomas’ in Dec ’89 I was blessed to bring an assistant with me
Mark (and Susan) Calder. We had been working together in the Western Suburbs but the church couldn’t afford to keep him on and St Thomas’ wanted an assistant minister. His gifts and graces were perfect for the work in North Sydney and he has been a fine pastor since in Roseville and Noosa.

After March came Jonathan Gould and this was an adventure! Jonathan was a former barrister – English, single, brilliant and feisty! [We have often laughed over the first conversation at St Thomas’ which went something like this…]

S   We meet on Mondays at lunch time for “staff meetings”

J   I’m at my desk on Mondays so just let me know the important details later

S   We share the weddings and funerals (50:50)

J   I don’t take non-Christian weddings and I avoid funerals and certainly don’t take baptisms (except for church couples)

S   There are two Scripture classes – one each

J   See if you can find someone else to take mine.

It was a tense beginning (!) but Jonathan quickly showed himself to be a superb preacher, discilper of men and evangelist. He was crystal clear which polarised people – they were converted and grew or they were annoyed and avoided him! He took over the small groups by closing them all down (“you’re not capable of leading one”) and starting “Romans” in the Cottage Hall – to which people came in great numbers.  When I had my bypass operation in ’92 Jonathan preached morning and evening for the three months that I was frail and that’s when St Thomas began to grow.  I remember people running to St Thomas’ to get “sent” [when he returned to the UK in ’93 St Thomas’ was clearer than ever].

We have been incredibly blessed at St Thomas’ in the staff who have worked here:

A   Assistant ministers with fine preaching gifts (Greg Webster, Steve Young, Andrew Leslie) and pastoral strengths (Peter Frith, Ian Phua) and all-rounders (Rick Smith, Paul Dale and Simon Flinders) – and recently such helpful men as Gavin Perkins, Chase Kuhn (P.T.) and now Mike Clark, Luke Shooter, Gerard O’Brien and the evangelist to wedding couples, Richard James. It always amazes me how the Lord provides for us and builds into these brothers so many gifts for the Body.

B   Student ministers – we must have had 50 in the past 30 years – including the six at present who we thank God for. But some have come to us who now serve the Lord in so many far flung places – Matthew Sleeman (Oak Hill in London), Paul Rees (in Edinburgh), Danny Rurlander (Moorlands UK) and some have been to the mission field like  Tim Swan and Ruth Brigden.  Many of the MTS apprentices have gone into ministry such as Dave Forward, Dan Webster, Dave Lanham, Robin Kinstead, Mark Earngey and many of the student ministers have key positions like Paul Grimmod at Moore and Nick Foord at Shore.

C   Kara Gilbert came in the mid ‘90s to be our women’s worker and gave us five great years discipling women and training women. By the time she left there were so many capable women there was no need to employ one to do the work. [Now she is Archdeacon for women in the Diocese].

D   Quite early we employed a children’s worker – Ali Cornford (now Streeter) who began the work with great effectiveness. Since then we’ve had Michelle Underwood, Rose Lloyd, Sophie Brooks and the wonderful Ali Macintosh – five very gifted and faithful workers.

E   Of course things could never have worked without the admin staff – wonderful secretaries like Margaret Mavary, Jane Stanton, Marlene Maynert, Jill MacLeod and now Amanda Rajaratnam. Clever graphic designers like Ann Penny, Amy Lees, Bo MacLeod – patient caretakers like Darren Waters, Andy Simkin and Steve Hayes – financial wizards like Richard Morton , Albert Wong, Angie Bautista (Erlangga), Irene Leung and now Tracey Laming.

There is not space to tell all the stories – some hilarious and some difficult – along the way.  If I have forgotten some names (and you have been around long enough to remember those people I’ve forgotten) – my apologies. Maybe I can make it up next time.

But the sentence that comes to mind is that the Lord “gave gifts to His people”
(Eph 4:8) and many of these gifts to us were people. He will continue to be generous – watch and see.

Yours,
Simon Manchester