Dear Friends

Every blessing for 2018:
Robin and I pray that you enjoyed a blessed Christmas. We enjoyed time with family. While it is not the same as in person, we were able to catch up with our overseas family via Skype. We wish you every blessing for 2018. Every day, every week, along with every month and year is a blessing from God. I pray that 2018 will be a year of many blessings for you, but I also pray that we will continue to serve our Lord with enthusiasm and joy in 2018.

Telephone Ring Around:
During my episcopate I have sought to phone the clergy each Christmas and Easter. When I first started they were formal short calls. Now they are times where we share and discuss. For those who were not available at the time I thank you for your texts saying that you received my message. In the past I have received a number of Telstra or Optus messages stating that the number has been disconnected. This time there were no such messages, so I thank everyone so much for keeping the Registry updated with your contact details.

Welcome to The Reverend Stephanie Patching:
We welcome Stephanie to the Diocese and I know the people of St. Matthew’s Mundingburra are eagerly awaiting Stephanie’s arrival.

Stephanie’s induction as Rector will take place at St. Matthew’s at 6.00 pm, this Friday evening, the 5th January. Following the induction service, there will be refreshments in the hall and this will be an opportunity for people to meet Stephanie. I was asked during Stable on the Strand here in Townsville, if people from other Churches are welcome. The answer is, of course, yes, so please invite them.

Also, I am delighted that there will be people from Stephanie’s former Parish who are coming and they will present and hand over Stephanie to the Churchwardens of St. Matthew’s here at Mundingburra.

We assure Stephanie of our prayers as she moves and settles in.

Clergy are invited to robe and the liturgical colour is white. The readings for the service are for the Epiphany, as the induction is on the Eve of the Epiphany.

Arranging Locums or clergy taking services while on leave:
I have become aware that there has been some confusion in regard to who is celebrating and preaching when the Priest in Charge is on leave. In fact, on more than one occasion no-one turned up to lead worship.

These are my suggestions for seeking relief clergy:

If you phone to ask a person to fill in for you, please ask them to phone back to say that have the received the message. Messages can be overlooked or not recorded properly. Whether the answer is yes or no, confirm their reply by letter or an email. (As an aside a clergy person told me recently that there was no point leaving a message on their phone as the battery was flat!).

If you send an email, seek a reply within a certain timeframe, like 48 hours. There have been times when people’s emails go to the “junk folder” for some reason. Once again, confirm that you have received the communication.

I made it habit when I was a Vicar, just as I was leaving, to contact those who were relieving to make sure everything was still OK, and to give them any updates of who was ill or needed ministry.

I encourage clergy to be involved in worship with clergy from other Christian denominations. If invited I encourage clergy to lead worship in other Christian Churches. We have a number of arrangements across the Diocese that work very well and I thank the clergy and laity for their ministry in this regard.

However, I do urge some caution. If a member of a Ministry Unit dies in a Nursing Home run by another denomination and you are asked to conduct the funeral by the family, it is important that you gain the approval from the denomination as well. Some facilities are happy for clergy to conduct funerals, based on a normal funeral rite, the service of the Ministry of the Word, but they are not happy for Anglicans to come in and conduct a requiem or other such services in their facility. I know that you will be sensitive in this regard. While I fully support the rights of female clergy not all denominations share my view. It is important to respect the various situations we find ourselves in when
we minister.

Also please be careful about moving paintings and other items that are important to that centre and that denomination in order to use data projectors.

My ministry practice was to write to the other denomination thanking them after I had used the facility, expressing my delight that we can minister together in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please continue to pray for the peace of the world, particularly in the Middle East.
The Reverend Digby Hoyal who undergoes a medical procedure later today.
The Reverend Scott Hedley as he continues to recover from back surgery.
There are a number of people across the Diocese who require our prayers.
Please continue to pray for those who are suffering physically, spiritually and emotionally, as well as those addressing mental health issues.
Please continue to pray for ministry in the Southern Region.

Wishing you every blessing for 2018.
Please be assured of my continued prayers.
Yours in Christ


The Right Reverend William (Bill) Ray
Bishop of North Queensland

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