NEVER SAY GOODBYE
Last month we were deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Liz. I regard this also as a personal loss. Following Margaret Shepherd’s funeral service when most mourners had departed, Liz hugged me and enquired into my present state of health with a genuine concern for me that goes beyond interest and empathy. In a sense I feel privileged having been one of the last parishioners spoken to without any premonition of the impending tragic event that would deprive me, like many others of her sustaining support.
With the benefit of prior knowledge I was conscious of some much dormant leadership potential that found expression in a variety of roles inside our church community and in other voluntary pursuits. Not widely known were her roots and chiefly ancestry in the Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi, which has produced many leaders of national significance. The eulogy, delivered by David at St Georges, is a fitting testament to a life blessed with significant experiences and notable accomplishments, is accessible at http://tinyurl.com/jdep8kw for parishioners like me, who, regretfully were unable to participate in the service.
St Aidans is a caring community that depends on a nucleus of people who are leading by example with a generous application of their time, knowledge and resources for the benefit of our wider community. Liz in partnership with husband David was an outstanding model of a volunteer leader. Her role at the head of the Kids Friendly team and motivation of others around her will be sadly missed and present challenges for a successor to step forward and take her place. It has been said that nobody is indispensable, but in reality some people like Liz are less dispensable than others.
Later this month we will farewell our pastor and guide Alf at the conclusion of his ministry. During my lifelong relationship with several communities of faith of the Reformed persuasion I have fond memories of clergy fully devoted to their flock. However, with minor exceptions they were steeped in the traditions of our denomination based on sound academic preparation in the intellectual pursued of their religious profession. Alf’s ministry represents a world wise understanding of the frailties of human existence. By dress and demeanour he is a man of the people, but also a sage, philosopher and mentor in keeping with his calling and intellect. His ability to relate to all sectors of society on an equal footing based on street wise service as a police officer, prison chaplain and minister in the Outback of Central Australia distinguishes him over traditionally qualified ministers. It is with deep regret that we farewell Alf to pursue his next career as a psycho-therapist and counsellor from an office in Takapuna. As editor I will miss his contributions of lead articles and monthly coffee breaks over and above his leadership of devotional services, which never fail to impress.
With the loss of both Liz and Alf, we are entering a new era of church leadership that will make greater demands on Church Council, the executive team and other members with self-assumed and delegated functions and duties. It inevitably makes us aware of our shrinking human resource and the need for initiatives to grow the flock. With the prospect of a lengthy gap in stipended ministry it presents new challenges that will test our resilience on top of the building stability issue that remains unresolved.
May God give us the strength to proceed forward without Liz and Alf.