At the 5pm weekend (last weekend) we noted the 2 Timothy 2:2 verse about “reliable men” and I thought it would be good to mention how blessed we have been by the wardens (who oversee the finances and property of the church) at St Thomas over the past thirty years.
I would like to write a full letter about each one but here are some memories in brief:
A. Chris Bellenger was a professor of veterinary science and he and Jan had joined St Thomas’ to support the gospel work of Peter Watson before me. Chris was weighty in the word of God and had the ability to listen to every position on the (very mixed) Parish Council and then lead it in a faithful kingdom path. It was God’s kindness to put a mature Christian leader in position and I owe Chris a lot.
B. Another couple of older wardens (fatherly wardens) were John Dingle and Keith Hughesdon. They were tremendously kind to me and treated a rector in his late 30’s with respect and skilful guidance. I remember on one occasion we had a troublemaker in church – one who had been entrusted with a key and some authority – and when things got really difficult John Dingle simply said at a warden’s meeting “it’s over – get his key and say goodbye”. It was a difficult moment but exactly the right thing to do for the good of all. Keith was warden and business lunch leader, had a home group and he and Pat did much to love the family here.
C. The longest standing warden was Peter Hicks. He and Judy joined St Thomas’ just before I came and again the Lord planted someone here who was able to do so much that I could never do. Peter was in his 20’s when he became warden but was a strong leader and took charge of the building projects on the church, the schoolhouse, the hall, the house (no.34 McLaren Street) and then the Parkview renovations. It was a great thing to have someone who knew the building world inside out and who could meet (at 6am!) with architects and workmen and get things done. Peter would say to me ‘stay with the ministry and we’ll look after the property’ – he was a forceful personality but he (and Judy) served us for twenty two years very faithfully till they moved to Manly. We owe them a huge amount.
D. Some of the wardens were very gifted in the financial area – I think of Simon Pillar, John Collins and John Turner and Mark Streeter. These men were a great gift to us as St Thomas’ began to grow and the finances got a little more complicated. It was Simon Pillar who suggested that the time had come for a part time finance position on the staff. Up till then the treasurers – like Nicola Warwick Mayo – had handled every detail. These four brothers were friends and gifts to the work here.
E. Gavin Jones was a warden for a few years and – along with Julianne – had a great gift for advancing the gospel. He was (and is) a pilot who lived further away but the family were here every week and strengthened the gospel priorities. Willi Schultheiss and John Webster were good all-rounders who combined true faithfulness with business and practical skills. We could always count on these two for the best advice on property priorities.
F. In recent days we have been hugely blessed by Adrian Cunningham – again a brother who kept thinking about the eternal priorities – and Martin Dudley who combined all the steadiness of wisdom in finance, mission and people. It was Martin who helped me in so many staff reviews and these men have been loyal friends indeed. Now John MacLeod and Andrew Eatough and Paul Drew combine the very best in what you would want in a warden – reliable with the finances/property, helpful with pastoral decisions and great friends to work with. I don’t need to tell you that these men have done a huge amount for St Thomas’!
G. We’ve only had one female warden – Anita Savage – and she brought great grace and patience and maturity to the task. Why are the wardens mostly men? Probably because we look for the men who will model loving leadership to the church. And two ‘associate’ wardens have been Andrew Eastwood and Ben Mortimer – helping us with decisions and plans in a gracious and keen manner indeed.
H. One warden who has done his time in past years is Ken Chapman. Ken was a nominator who welcomed us to the work at St Thomas’ and he and Judy have been the foundational and continually supportive twosome we love and value. Ken made so much happen in the early days through his generosity – his wise leadership has been a help not only to St Thomas’ but to Moore College, Overseas Council and so many ministries Ken contributes to. In the last twelve years he and Judy have been hugely engaged in the care of Sam (through his health battles) while not neglecting Liv and Max and the wider family. Ken looked about 14 when he came as a nominator to see me – now he looks about 40 – but in fact he is 60 today and we wish him God’s rich blessings as we thank him and Judy for everything.
P.S. If I missed someone I’m sorry!