Moving towards 2006

From Rev Peter Beale

(Published in News First, July 2005 - monthly church newsletter, Warragul Uniting Church) 

It is hard to believe that I have been with you all for 4 Ĺ years now. As I have sought to fulfil what was asked of me in my call to minister among you, I have gained much!

I have learnt to work effectively as part of a ministry team, first with Rosalind, then with Hannes in supply ministry (a very different dynamic!), and now with Chris.

I have come to value the willingness of so many, of all ages, to try anything in worship. (This is especially true of the Come As You Are services in Warragul.) I have learnt, as well as introduced, so many new songs, yet you have willingly sung them without complaint!

Perhaps my greatest gain is that I have so many new friends. I know that my progressive theology and Historical Critical approach to scripture has been difficult for some of you, yet, whether you have agreed with me or not, you have remained friends, and kept coming to worship. Thank you Ė this is a great gift.

There are so many other ways you have given to me and my family, but these I will detail in another letter.

Why am I sharing in this way?

Well, as is normal for any minister in their fifth year in a placement, I have had to consider whether or not to submit an updated personal ministry profile to the Synod Placements committee so that I might be on the list of ministers available for placement in 2006. Do I put myself on the list, or not?

It has not been an easy decision to make, as there are strong reasons to continue ministry, and equally compelling reasons to consider moving on.

There is so much happening in the congregations of the cluster that make ministering here quite challenging, and exciting. The new building program and ministry that will develop from that in Warragul, is a project that I have been deeply involved in over the past two years, and I would love to see it through to completion. The changes in relationships between congregations in the Western Mission Area of this Presbytery is a challenging time that would best be addressed by stable on- going ministry.

These are strong reasons to continue. But there are, I believe, stronger reasons for me to consider moving on. Primary among them are issues to do with my family. Vicki works full-time in Melbourne, in work she feels very strongly is Godís calling for her. In addition to this, Vicki and the children are still suffering from grief over the loss of their brother and uncle. The girls are also involved in a Tongan worship band that practices on weekends.

The decision by the Drouin congregation and Bunyip Parish to accept the recommendation of the Western Mission Area Advisory Group, that is, to come together for the purpose of ministry from January 2006, is both a reason to stay, and a reason to move on. As I have already stated, stable ministry during the change over to the new structure would be pastorally an advantage. However, my current call to ministry is to the whole Central Baw Baw Cluster, and is paid for proportionally by three of the congregations, not just one.

To simply cease ministry in the other congregations and take up ministry in Drouin and Bunyip from the 1st of January is not appropriate as this is a new placement requiring a matching of congregation and minister profiles, and a new Call to that minister. (A Call is normally for a period of 5 years.) Even a phasing in period would be difficult due to stipend issues.

Following much prayer, I believe the best way forward for me is to seek a new placement to allow the new Drouin/Bunyip arrangement to commence, with a new minister, as close as possible to the beginning of 2006.

Therefore, I have decided to submit my profile, and I will be hoping to find a placement that is not only a good match with my gifts and priorities in ministry, but also close to Vickiís place of work. Naturally, I will inform you when any negotiations with a suitable placement have been finalised, and give the appropriate time to conclude my ministry among you.

Godís love and Christís peace.