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13 June 2020 | Vicar Writes

Leading in Community

By Terry Wong

We have 300+ who have signed up for our upcoming AGM. There will be a “contest” for the Parochial Church Council (PCC) seats as we have 15 brothers and sisters who have offered to serve for 12 seats. Some are already serving in the current PCC. Do pray about who you would want to vote to serve in the 2020-2021 term. This time around, we are also electing four Synod Representatives. In last week’s bulletin, we have shared in detail the role of the Synod Representatives. When elected, Synod Reps will serve in our PCC for three years. There is no contest for the People Warden’s position but the candidate will still need to obtain a minimum of 30% of those present to be elected.

Let me share a bit about the role of the wardens. They work closely with the Vicar, forming an inner circle that provides for ease of connection, confidential sharing on issues, close consultation and channelling communication between the congregation, Vicar and Bishop. PCC remains the supreme body that the Vicar and wardens will report back to. Wardens are also expected to be accessible by the Bishop and this is important to establish a network of accountability and feedback. Religious authority can sometimes be abused (or perceived as such by members) and feedback will be helpful for the Vicar’s self-awareness, or in cases where there is a serious breakdown of relationships, the Bishop or other diocesan senior officials can help to mediate. The reverse is also true as some members may sometimes put undue pressure on the Vicar or other clergy and the wardens can help to mediate.

We have the Vicar’s Warden, who is appointed by the Vicar, and the People’s Warden who is elected by the congregation. This has evolved into the idea that “the Vicar’s Warden protects the Vicar and the People’s Warden, the people.” This may seem intuitive but traditionally, both wardens actually play the same role in serving with the Vicar and the congregation. The title merely refers to how he was appointed/elected.

No system is perfect and at the end of the day, it is good Christian sense and maturity that govern how a church community functions. From time to time, there will be disagreements, not unlike the incident in Acts 6. The challenge for any church is not to stifle all disagreements but to learn to manage them in a way that is constructive. I do try my best, by His grace, to exemplify how I discharge my Vicar’s role by being open, accessible, and offer a listening ear for constructive criticism and feedback. And I hope that all those entrusted with authority will do likewise so that together, we can create a culture of open accountability and do our best to keep our community healthy and Christ-like. Heart to heart conversations are never overrated, through Zoom or otherwise! Indeed our witness to the world depends very much on how we love one other, as Jesus has foretold and taught (John 13:35). We are reminded in our liturgy constantly to “love God and neighbour.” If we seek to do this well, our influence and witness as a Church will be strong and Christ-glorifying.

I want to thank both the wardens and PCC for serving with me in this challenging season. I also would like to take this opportunity to announce that I am reappointing Keith Chua as the Vicar’s Warden.

We look forward to a Cathedral community that will grow stronger in love during this Covid19 season.