pilgrims on the way
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.
Toowoomba Preparatory School - now known as Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School (TACAPS) - began in 1911 and has seen many changes and had many achievements over the years. It has certainly been a well loved Anglican school for so many who have passed through its doors. From an initial foundation of 17 students, it has grown as the only co-educational Anglican school in the Diocese of Brisbane west of the Great Dividing Range. Sitting picturesquely atop the Range, it indeed has a very beautiful series of buildings and resources and a delightful assembly of students and staff. It is currently however facing one of its biggest challenges as it transitions from what has essentially been a junior school to a full school covering ages from kindergarten to year 12. This also involves developing new outward-looking relationships with others. As an Anglican school located in the parish of St Luke, Toowoomba, this is an important concern for many of us in the wider church too. It is also an invitation for others to join in what is an encouraging spirit of faith in the future. For what above all impressed me in my most recent visit last week was the passion, imagination and practical pastoral and educational vision of the school, wonderfully embodied in its Head of School, Mr Simon Lees. This not only gave me confidence for the school's future but was also a witness to others to grasp the nettle of change, with all its demands and uncertainty. For a journey into the unknown can be unsettling for any well-established institution, even one with the past and present resources of TACAPS. It requires a genuine faith in the future and care and imagination to match. It is literally, as well as metaphorically, trusting in things unseen. For me, this was marvellously expressed both by the fledgling first-year students and staff of the inaugural year 8 and by their aptly named Inspiration Room. Would that every Christian body had an Inspiration Room! As our parish at this time seeks to discern its own 'mission action plan', part of which must involve developing closer links with TACAPS as part of our commitment to being One Church with One Mission, this is an encouragement and inspiration to us too. Can we all respond to the invitation to have faith in the future?
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.