As I write, it has been only a few days since my induction into the office of President. While I do know some people already, there will be others who do not know me, so I thought it worthwhile to introduce myself.
I am married to Pam, and we have three children: Alycia (22), Alexander (20) and Ebony (18). My father, Rev Trevor Moffat, is also a minister in the New Church, now retired. He and Mum live in Perth, WA. As a boy, my family lived in the United Kingdom, and my youngest two sisters were born there. I hold a degree in music (from my years living in Melbourne), and a diploma of education (from Sydney). Following my ministerial training in Manchester, UK, I served the New Church in Birmingham (UK) for three years from 1997. We returned to Australia in 2000, moving to Canberra, where I served the church full-time for 6 years before returning to teaching. I am currently self-employed as a piano and theory teacher and as a freelance accompanist. I continue to work for the church in an honorary capacity.
My present employment situation is very different from many of my predecessors, whose work for church congregations more easily dovetailed into presidential duties. However, there is some time available to me, and I intend to dedicate 1:30pm to 4:00pm on most Fridays to work for the New Church in Australia.
Having said all of that, I do wish to make myself as available as possible, whilst respecting the needs of my private students and other clients. So, I invite anyone to call or email me at any time during the week. Whilst I do not pick up the phone while I am teaching, I will respond as soon as possible – but please allow that it may be a day or two before a response is possible. My personal mobile phone number is 0402 944 889, and my email is email@example.com
I will leave others to write full reports on the Assembly which was held in Canberra from the 6th May, but let me offer my own observations and comments.
The positive atmosphere and the spirit of cooperation evident at the gathering were a pleasure to participate in, with a range of diverse opinions being expressed – and heard.
We live in a time of change, which can feel uncertain and threatening, but there is good reason for optimism. While it seems that the traditional church formats are running out of steam, other ministries are taking their place: we heard fascinating news of logopraxis, internet ministries, non-traditional services of worship. Comment was particularly made regarding our own full-time ministers, many of whom are retiring: but there are others – including myself – who are simply working to a different model. The Lord continues to work and we will always find opportunities to cooperate with Him if only we are prepared to seek them out.
We all heard heartfelt pleas to foster a sense of belonging, at national and local levels.
There is need for clarity in our definition of “The New Church In Australia”: Are we talking about the Board, the association, the societies, all members of the New Church, or something altogether different? What is each organisation’s role and relationship with one another? There is also a need for better communication between the board and societies, and society to society.
There was discussion around our need and desire to reach out, to get the Lord’s truth out there and allow it to do its work. This included a specific exploration and implementation of a greetings cards ministry.
In all these areas, and throughout the assembly, the important of personal responsibility was emphasised. We cannot expect one to two individuals to carry the load. Where I sense a need – be it our own or that of another – I have to ask, “Who will fulfil it?” Often the answer will be, “me!” Don’t leave it to the ministers, the office-bearers, or the employees. We do not have a huge, monolithic organisation with thousands of members. Each of us must recognise our own responsibility to work for the Lord’s kingdom and our part in it, and it is small organisations such as ours where we can see and most easily express that. To put it another way, in the New Church one person CAN make a real difference. What difference will you make today?
Finally, I want to express my particular thanks to Rev Julian Duckworth. He has served as President for around 15 years, with energy and enthusiasm in his uniquely personable way, and done so through some significant challenges. He remains on the Board as Vice-President until May 2017 to assist my transition into the Presidency, for which I am very grateful.