To rework a common saying, if something doesn't quite look or quack like a duck, perhaps it is not a duck. There are no doubt many reasons why the Anglican Parish of St Luke has not always flourished as well as it might have done. Yet key may the very identity of its principal worship site (St Luke’s). This is situated on two major city thoroughfares of Ruthven Street (the main north-south route through Toowoomba) and Herries Street (which links key city institutions such St Vincent Hospital & Toowoomba Grammar School with The Glennie School). It faces the City Council chambers which are mere yards away diagonally. It has traditionally hosted many wider civic and city events. Local people outside the church congregation also frequently and instinctively call St. Luke’s a Cathedral. Yet its city centre significance and ‘more than ordinary parish’ identity has not always been well grasped. Linked with other worship centres with different dynamics, it has felt further dislocating pulls of theological, pastoral and missional orientation. As Toowoomba grows each day towards being a genuine regional capital, and as the wider Church wrestles with today’s mission priorities, it is therefore appropriate to ask: ‘is it time for the St Luke’s site to be regarded, supported and developed as a form of Minster?...
Laying the foundations of a labyrinth at St Luke’s has been a beautiful symbol of our parish journey together. For we are named after someone – St Luke – who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles to encourage us to see our life and faith as a journey into the heart of God and a journey into deeper relationship with all those around us. Like the first disciples on the Emmaus Road, we are called to experience God in Jesus Christ as we travel with our parish vision: to be more deeply ‘focused in Christ, joyful and inclusive, compassionate in witness’.
Over the last few months we have been praying and reflecting together about the next steps we should take. It has been a very positive experience. For we have begun to discover new pathways building on our current strengths and shared Christian traditions. We have identified a MAP (short for Mission Action Plan) which we hope and trust will help us walk forward together over the next 3 years. Unlike the final stage of the labyrinth, it will not be fixed in stone. Some things will work. Some things will not. Other surprises will come our way. Yet our MAP will help us from straying from the pathway, helping us better attention to God’s love among us. in both our inward and outward looking journeys.
There are six aspects to our MAP, like the six petals at the centre of our labyrinth. By far the highest priority identified by members of the parish is developing our ministry with younger people, children & families (including seeking a new paid member of staff to guide and support us). Alongside this is a second priority of engaging with the new Pilgrim course – for existing and new members of our parish to grow as Christians. Thirdly, we particularly seek to develop a growing sense of the St Luke’s site as a, cathedral like, Minster for our city: as an accessible place of prayer for all (‘focused in Christ’), an open meeting place for people of different backgrounds (‘joyful and inclusive’), and a lively place to explore and bring together ancient and contemporary understandings of life, truth, justice and beauty (‘compassionate in witness’) – ‘in the heart of the City, in the heart of God’. May God bless us therefore as travel on.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.