A Warm Welcome

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The last month has been a time for finding my feet and getting to know my way around. It’s been good to start at the start of the year and see how things run as they begin after the holiday break.

It’s been an unusual transition as Ken and Gill Martin concluded their time in Benalla just as we arrived. I think I can speak for both Ken and myself when I say that it’s been a blessing for the church that there hasn’t been a long vacancy. I’ve appreciated Ken’s help along the way.

You may be wondering just how I ended up here and what happens next. As a graduate of the Presbyterian Theological College, I’ve been appointed to the Benalla Parish for 12 months. The Presbytery has licenced me to preach the Gospel, but as I’m not yet ordained, there are several things I cannot do, including administer baptism or the Lord’s Supper. My ministry is under the supervision of the Interim Moderator, Kevin Maxwell from Tatura. I believe that Kevin’s occasional presence with us will be a good thing for us all as my ministry gets underway.

Sarah, Alexandra and I have been encouraged by the warm welcome we’ve received from so many people. We’re looking forward to getting to know you over the year ahead. The Manse number has been redirected to us, so you can still call (03) 5276 6275. We’d love for you to ring or drop in or invite us to your place (or all three!). If we don’t yet have your phone number and address, we’d love to have them so we can come to visit you.

My ‘weekend’ will be Friday and Saturday, so I won’t be scheduling meetings or appointments with myself then unless it’s unavoidable. As you will appreciate, I must take regular, predictable time off so that I can look after my family and be effective in God’s service.

However, I do want to be contacted when something significant happens in your lives (births, deaths, hospitalizations, family crises) and I will be available in those circumstances. I repeat, please call me. Even if you don’t want a visit, I’d love to pray for you.

Those are my priorities: preaching, prayer and visiting. I’m planning to do sermon preparation early in the week, then spend most of Wednesday writing my sermon. This will free up other times for Bible studies, meetings, and visits.

I’m encouraged by the response to the beginning of my ministry and would appreciate your prayers that we’ll all grow in maturity in Christ as He is proclaimed to us (Colossians 1:28).

Yours in Christ’s service,

Stephen McDonald

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