Church Leadership

Making it work in the parish - Caulfield

Essentials asked Mark Durie how they went about combining three parishes into a team and how it worked out.

1. Which parishes did you combine and why?

St Catharine's South Caulfield, St Clement's Elsternwick, and St Mary's Caulfield partnered together for three years from 2012-2014. The three parishes are located next to each other in the inner southeast region of Melbourne. We partnered together in order to help launch a new young adult congregation at St Clement's and renew the parish of St Catharine's.

2. Can you give us a simple overview of the process that led to the parishes agreeing to combine?

At the start of the partnership the three churches, although next to each other, were in very different situations.

St Mary's had previously declined through the 1970's and 80's, and for a time its future had been in doubt. However the launch of a contemporary service in the early 1990's led to the development of a thriving congregation which today totals around 160 people, including many young families. For the past decade this community has been growing steadily.

St Catharine's was a small suburban church with a good site and a strong community with a wide variety of ages, but its congregation was small and for decades it had been a struggle to keep the church open.

St Clement's site is well located on a busy main road, but during a long incumbency it had gradually declined to a congregation of around a dozen mostly elderly regulars. Like St Catharine's, St Clement's was being sustained financially by a property lease, but its human resources had reached the point where it was unable to renew itself.
The Diocese, through our local Archdeacon, Brad Billings, invited three neighbouring parishes to consider partnering with St Clement's to assist it to find a new direction. St Mary's proposal was to plant a young adult congregation in the evening at St Clement's: the church site is in a prominent position at the end of a busy shopping strip which attracts many young adults. St Mary's proposal was received favourably by our regional Bishop, Paul White, who invited us to include St Catharine's in the relationship.

It so happened that the incumbencies of St Catharine's and St Clement's were vacant at the same time. The outcome of all this was that the three churches came together to partner for a three year period.

3. What does the new entity look like?

The partnership was created by two mechanisms, as laid out in a memorandum of understanding.

One was the appointment of a common incumbent. I was already serving as the incumbent of St Mary's, and was appointed as Priest-in-Charge of St Clement's and St Catharine's.

The other mechanism was a shared clergy team of four people who worked together across the three sites. I and RF, who were at St Mary's before the partnership joined up with Adam and Heather Cetrangolo, who came in from outside to focus on the church renewal and planting projects. The clergy took on evolving roles across the three churches as circumstances changed during the three years.
To simplify administration the clergy were paid through St Mary's, and the other two churches made contributions for staff costs according to the services they received. The three churches were in other respects formally distinct, each with their own vestry and wardens. Each church functioned separately, while sharing a staff team. However the congregations of the three churches came together for special events a few times a year, such as a Maundy Thursday passover meal.

4. What team (paid and volunteer) do you have and what do they do?

Each church's story is different. At St Catharine's the goal was congregational renewal. A small enthusiastic lay team led by a capable group of wardens welcomed change. Heather Cetrangolo took responsibility for worship, pastoral care, discipleship and developing a new vision - in short everything needed to grow the congregation - while I as priest-in-charge worked in the background with the wardens, looking after governance, budgeting, and property. There was much work to be done, changing service styles, discontinuing the organist's appointment - which the parish could no longer afford - and launching a new vision. Evangelism and discipleship programs led some on the fringes to come to faith and become committed members. A band emerged to support the launch of a new contemporary service. Exciting new programs such as a monthly community dinner proved a great success and helped bring new people into the church.

At St Clement's RF took on the task of assisting the existing congregation to grow in acceptance and support for the partnership. Under his experienced care they warmly embraced change, and the existing evening service was discontinued to make way for a new service. At the same time, while working at St Mary's for a year, Adam Cetrangolo was gathering a team of young adults to plant the new service at St Clement's. The new SALT service was launched in the middle of the second year of the partnership, and has drawn local young adults into the church. With a contemporary feel the SALT community has had the freedom to connect with young adults using forms of worship and discipling which appeal to its focus generation.

St Mary's community has continued to grow during the partnership. There are paid staff and a large team of volunteers involved in family programs such as Sunday School and playgroup. For the first two years Heather Cetrangolo, in addition to her duties at St Catharine's, also led a combined youth group based at St Mary's which drew young people from both St Mary's and St Catharine's. After a year of growth this work was taken over by a dedicated youth worker.

An unexpected parallel development during the partnership was the launch of a thriving Iranian congregation under the auspices of St Mary's. This arose from the work of an evangelist who became connected with St Mary's, and my interest in outreach to Muslims.

5. In what ways has it turned out to be a good idea? Has it been successful in stimulating evangelism and growth?

At this point the partnership is about to conclude.

From 1 October St Mary's and St Clement's are merging to form one parish, and St Catharine's will be standing on its own two feet with Adam Cetrangolo as the interim locum, while it continues its program of renewal, reaching out to unchurched people in its neighbourhood. The three church partnership gave St Catharine's new hope, and helped establish a base for the future. A good deal of enthusiasm exists in the parish to continue their efforts to grow the community.

A new service – SALT – has been established at St Clements, which is reading out to the young adults in our very secular and unchurched environment. An older dying congregation at St Clement's has been renewed in hope for the future as they have warmly embraced the emergence of SALT. Meanwhile St Mary's community has continued to grow and thrive, and has been blessed and enriched by a diverse staff team, with its varying and complementary talents.

St Mary's and St Clement's have merged into a multi-site parish in order to minister to all ages from the base of their complementary sites.

The partnership has been a fruitful training environment for two younger clergy, and enabled us to pool the gifts and experience of a team to achieve things which we would not have been able to do if we were working independently.

The final proof of what we have done will be apparent in the years ahead, as the many initiatives begun over the past three years continue to grow and bear fruit.

Dr Mark Durie, the Senior Pastor, and Pastor for the 10.30 am service at St Mary's, is a theologian, human rights activist,  and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Making it work in the parish

Gordon Killow,  Graeme Middlewick and Matt Harding form the paid ministry team at Kallaroo Anglican Church in Perth WA. Essentials asked them about how they are getting on.

Who is in your ministry team?

Three full-time, paid workers: Senior minister – Gordon; Assistant minister – Graeme; and Assistant minister (Young adults) – Matt. Many who work through the week, leading Bible studies, ministry groups, parish council & wardens, newsletter & web-page, flower roster etc

What are the main activities of the church?

Preaching and teaching the Bible in Sunday services, home groups, Bible studies, children and youth groups, Simply Christianity courses and occasional training courses for things like Welcoming and evangelism.

What stories will people tell about your leadership?

Elizabeth Culhane reports on the recent EFAC Emerging Leaders Conference

So began EFAC Australia’s Emerging Leaders Conference, held in Melbourne from 21-23 September 2014. Twenty-seven young leaders from around the country met to discuss the opportunities and challenges of being Christian leaders and Anglicans in twenty-first century Australia.

In the morning Bible studies, Tim Johnson helped us to consider the gifts and limitations of the two emerging leaders on view in 1 Samuel 9: Saul and Samuel. Our attention was drawn to the fact that it was a servant, not Saul, who consults and relies upon God for wisdom (1Samuel  9:6), foreshadowing the later issues in Saul’s leadership. Saul’s CV would have looked good, Tim remarked, but did he display the godly character required for leadership? Accordingly, do we choose leaders on the latter basis? Tim reminded us that godliness is essential for spiritual leadership (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-13).

The Conference was an excellent mixture of formal content, informal learning, and networking. We visited local churches and glimpsed the many different forms of Anglican ministry within Melbourne.

Andrew Katay spoke on how to think biblically about leadership, challenging us to consider it as broader than preaching and praying alone. Leadership has to move beyond just completing tasks, argued Katay. Instead, we need to consider our theology of church and discipleship, and how best to bring this vision to fruition with God’s help. He highlighted the necessity, for leaders, of reading  books such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, and encouraged us to refrain from referring to the church where we work as “my church”, but rather as “Jesus' church”.

In Adam Lowe’s workshop we listed our views of the opportunities, challenges and sources of encouragement in our local churches and the Anglican Communion as a whole. Adam artfully categorised and graphed the results before we met in groups to discuss the most frequently nominated challenges.

The delegates’ chief local challenges were making and maturing disciples and healthy church communities, whereas our primary sources of encouragement were seeing faith in action, evangelism and mission, and encouraging co-workers. In regards to the Anglican Communion, delegates’ chief concerns were theological heterodoxy and uncertainty about Anglican identity.

Stephen Hale then gave an excellent address on  how to live as an Anglican in the Church’s ‘Cross-Over Era’ from institutional and societal prominence to a more marginal position. [See page 2]

Delegates’ learning was also greatly enriched by evangelist Lindsay Brown’s lecture on the current status of world mission, and by Julie-Anne Laird who encouraged ministers to lead by example in evangelism. In addition, we spent time praying for our churches, Australia, the world, and each other.

The Conference was superbly organised by Adam Cetrangolo, along with Adam Lowe and Stephen Hale. EFAC’s 2014 Emerging Leaders Conference was a resounding success, and I would highly recommend anyone nominated to take up the opportunity to attend next time.

Elizabeth Culhane studies theology at Ridley Melbourne, and enjoys reading, writing and cake-eating.
She tweets at

I Love LIsts

Three tips for growing through reading from Tim Johnson.

How can you tell when a minister graduated from theological college? Just check his or her book collection and find the latest one published.
An old joke that is only funny because it is too often true in spirit if not in fact. A mere few years of theological study at its best equips people with the right tools and stimulates a passion for a lifetime of ongoing learning. There is a need to read and keep on reading to deepen in our thinking and ministry.
So how can we ensure that we are growing through ongoing reading? Ministry places serious demands on our time and it is easy for reading and thinking to be pushed aside by the sermon that needs writing, the parishioner who needs visiting or the mounting administration. I’ve found the following three disciplines helpful in ensuring that I keep growing through reading.

1. Book reading time

In my second year of ministry my supervisor helpfully challenged me about how much wider reading I was actually doing. He pointed out that I’d soon become shallow and trite in my preaching if I wasn’t growing through reading.

Interview: Peter Carolane - Church Planting

Planting a Church
Peter Carolane has led a team in planting a new congregation in Melbourne's inner-north. Essentials asked him how they have gone about it.
1. Please tell us when and how this church plant started.
1.1 Initial Research for the Plant
Throughout 2012, Revd. Peter Carolane, Bishop Stephen Hale (with assistance from Archdeacon Condie and Bishop Huggins) investigated the viability of a church plant in the inner-north.
In December 2012, Peter Carolane held the first meeting for people interested in the plant.
1.2 Planning, Prayer and Vision Meetings
In February 2013, Peter formed a steering team of nine St Hilary’s people who started meeting weekly to plan the launch of the church plant
Midway through the year, two extra people joined the leadership team from St Jude’s Carlton.
In March 2013, a vision development day was held at Northcote Town Hall including about 25 people who inputed into the formation of the vision statement. The results from this day were further refined by the steering team and Peter (see below).

Life of Brian

The Revd Dr Brian Rosner, Principal of Ridley Melbourne, speaks to EFAC.
EFAC: Brian, why did you apply for and accept the role of Principal at Ridley?
Brian: I knew of Ridley’s fine reputation as an evangelical college committed to effective training for a range of gospel ministries under the leadership of Peter Adam. To be honest, I wasn’t looking for such a role myself, but was encouraged to apply by a couple of friends whose opinion I respect. So it was a matter of exploring the possibility with the Ridley Board and praying for God’s guidance, and eventually a new measure of faith and courage.
EFAC: A year into the job as principal of Ridley Melbourne, what have been your highlights?
Brian: The biggest highlight has been the people. I am happy to report that Ridley has delightful students, a strong faculty with diverse gifts, warm and able administrative staff, passionate stakeholders, and a competent and supportive board, not to mention excellent food! There is a genuine team spirit around the college, springing from our common commitment to Jesus Christ. The warmth of the gospel is evident everywhere you look.
It’s been a busy year, with three faculty appointments, the Marketplace Institute and Ridley Certificate getting up and running, and the development of a strategic plan for the next five years in the mix. We have a slew of visiting speakers this year, including Paul Barnett, Tom Wright and Mark Dever. And we are exploring some partnerships with organisations like the Centre for Public Christianity and Gordon-Conwell Seminary in the USA.
The job comes with an abundance of exciting opportunities and also significant challenges.

Page 3 of 5