Reflections on my time at SHAP

  • 5 October 2021
  • Dan McKinlay
As I leave the ministry at South Head and return to the UK, I’ve been asked by Stuart to write down some thoughts and reflections on my time in this parish. Let me begin by saying that I have learned lessons for life and ministry in this parish that would have taken far longer to learn elsewhere. The ministry positions available to many theological college graduates and newly ordained ministers see them ‘specialise’ in a particular area of ministry; e.g. youth work, overseeing a particular ministry, or care for a young adults congregation. My experience has seen me minister broadly; I’ve served in aged care, baptised a number of children and buried many people. It’s been a privilege to walk with people during their best days and their darkest days, all the while bringing the word of God to bear on their situation. In short, my time at SHAP has allowed me to be a ministry ‘all-rounder’. I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn lessons that will stay with me for life. 

The coming of the COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways aided the processes nerf amalgamation. We have had to pivot and adapt to restrictions and various other situations throughout 2020 and 2021. I have seen the importance of ministering alongside a large 
team of people, each with their own responsibilities, yet all pulling together. Since our amalgamation in April 2020, our staff team (both paid and unpaid) has met every Tuesday morning at 730am. Their servant-heartedness, prayerfulness, care and love has made it a joy to serve and minister alongside them. 

In God’s kindness, we have seen growth in our parish in these years. Growth takes on a number of forms. It is both numeric (and I’ve seen a number of new people join our church in these four years), but growth is also seen in the depth of spiritual maturity in individuals. The desire of many to grow in their knowledge of God through reading his Word and reflecting on its significance has been an enormous encouragement both to me and to Kirsten. Those who belong to Christ earnestly desire to hear his voice, and it’s clear that many have sought to grow in their Christian maturity regardless of their age and stage. It is our ongoing prayer that people would continue to seek opportunities to sit under God’s word as eager disciples. As the prophet Jeremiah says: “Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16.  
And so I leave South Head Anglican Parish having arrived very green indeed, and I leave, in God’s kindness, a few shades of paler green with some runs on the board. I am so 
thankful for Stuart and Jane and the model of Christian love that they have been to me and Kirsten and Chloe, as well as to our wider church family. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with someone who has enormous drive and entrepreneurial spirit. I am also thankful for the many unpaid volunteers in our parish who each play their part to see the gospel go forward in our community. Whether they are doing the behind the scenes planning of systems and paying bills or ministering in the community each week, their eagerness and resilience is a testament to the God who is at work in each of them.  

My parting encouragement for each of you is to continually look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated a the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, evermore. 

Dan McKinlay 
Sydney, 2021.