In 2019, Simon Manchester retired after 30 years of faithfully serving as the Rector of St Thomas’ North Sydney. As part of their criteria for Simon’s successor, the Nominators sought out someone who would be able to lead St Thomas’ into developing a clear and compelling future vision for the church and so asked the Archbishop to invite Micky Mantle to be our next Rector.
Micky began in September 2021 and started with a preaching series in 1 Timothy. This was a deliberate decision since that letter is addressed to a church and its Minister about what is required for a church to fulfil its God-given purpose i.e. to be a ‘pillar and buttress of the truth’ holding up and holding out Christ in the location in which God has placed them. In January 2022 Micky invited us as a church to share our initial thoughts and reflections about the future of St Thomas’ based on what God had taught us from 1 Timothy. The responses to this survey were wise and provided both a realistic assessment of where we were at as a church and what we might do to better serve Christ in the future.
On 23 February 2023, Micky, the Wardens and the Treasurer met with the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore to consider engaging him as an external facilitator to help us develop a church vision statement. His excellent track record (having led over 150 such processes) meant that they had no hesitation in securing his help for this work. On Peter Moore’s recommendation a group of forty-five representatives from across the church were invited to participate in a series of workshops. The guiding group was an even mix of men and women, and there was proportional representation based on congregation size.
Over these workshops the guiding group met to pray and discuss four big questions:
Why do we exist?
What matters to us as St Thomas’?
Where are we heading? and
What will we prioritise?
During these workshops Peter took the guiding group through a range of exercises and activities to address these questions. There was a combination of Bible work, brainstorming, personal and corporate reflection, listening to one another, and of course, prayer.
A drafting group was also formed to take these ideas and suggestions and then articulate it in a form of words for each of the four questions. Hear from members of the guiding group in the videos below on their experience of the Vision 2030 process.
A few comments can be noted about how this final mission statement came about:
These are what others typically describe as a church’s ‘core values’. They are a combination of things that we hold dear already and things that we aspire to be characterised by in the future. They are both theological and corporate in nature.
Our prayer is that in 2030, by God’s grace, we would see
…streams of people being saved from judgement
into a joyful and growing relationship with Jesus
…gathered with us into a gracious and grateful community
shaped by Jesus’ love
…with the word of God
in our hearts and on our lips
…together raising up and investing in generations of disciples
for our needy city, country, and world.
We are currently preparing a strategic plan for Parish Council. More information will be coming as soon as that’s approved.
The Vision 2030 Progress Report can be downloaded by clicking the below button. This report covers the process that the ‘guiding group’ went through and work that the ‘drafting group’ did in the first half of 2023 as part of the St Thomas’ North Sydney Vision 2030 project.
It should be noted that this report, far from being the end of the Vision 2030, is just the beginning. It is intended as an initial background report to help all members of St Thomas’ get up to speed with the work that has been done by the ‘guiding group’ (45 members) and ‘drafting group’ (7 members) so far.
There is lots more work for us to do together to identify and put into practice the practical priorities that enable this vision to become a reality. Page 21 shows the 10 initial ideas and projects that the guiding group has proposed for us to consider prioritising.
There was a tremendously encouraging VISION Sunday on the 17 September, with members across all congregations coming together to hear from God’s word about his purpose for us as a church. It was also a chance for us to take stock: to look back with thanks and to share about what is happening from here.
The presentation and Q&A was an important opportunity for us all to understand where we have got to so far in the VISION 2030 process and what is next.
Below are links to watch the Vision Sunday message and then the presentation and Q&A.