St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Statement of Needs, 2012

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Six times a week, although currently it is seven times, we offer the sacrifice of the Mass in this parish church. An important part of the Mass is the fact that we are recalling to mind and celebrating the events of the Passion and resurrection of Our Lord. We do this through our words and actions. It is called the anamnesis.

Anamnesis in Christianity is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Mass and/or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me" In a wider sense, Anamnesis refers to a key concept in liturgical theology: in the worship of the church the faithful make memory of God's saving deeds.

The word anamnesis, as it was often used in ancient times, means to bring the past into the present and the present into the past. In the Mass, we truly experience Christ's life, death, and resurrection, and Christ is made present to us, and we are made present to him. This is far more dynamic than merely remembering something. This recalling to mind makes us part of that which we are celebrating.

Our life as a church is based on this recalling to mind and celebrating any number of events. Some of you will remember that in 2010 we had a special recalling to mind and celebration of the creation of our country as an entity when we remembered the Union of South Africa. Last year we recalled to mind and celebrated the 400th year of the translation of the Bible into English in what we know as the King James, or Authorised, Version. This year we recall to mind and celebrate the 350th year of the Book of Common Prayer.

While those time frames are large, in the parish we can recall and celebrate the 25 years of service to the parish given by our Verger, Michael Espin. Since his birth Michael has been in the parish through the incumbency of seven rectors! We thank him and wish him God’s blessing.

There are other events which we call to mind and celebrate. This year is the centenary of the sinking of the SS Titanic. On the 6th February Queen Elizabeth began the celebration of 60 years on the throne. Those of us who are a little older will remember that from 1952 until 1961 Queen Elizabeth was also the Queen of South Africa. In May we will be recalling and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the consecration of Archbishop Thabo.

Matters Musical   
On the feast of Christ the King we will be recalling and celebrating the appointment 40 years ago of a 23 year old as Organist and Choirmaster. Since then Deon Irish, OSC has served the parish through the incumbency of six rectors. We thank God for all he has initiated and achieved in those 40 years.

Having mentioned our Titular organist, it is important to recognise the contribution made to our liturgical life by all those involved in the ministry of music in the parish. A further item under ‘Matters Musical’ would be the major maintenance of the organ, undertaken in January. Our thanks to Charles Hart and his team for all their efforts. It is good to welcome a long time member of the parish back home.
Matters of the fabric
Within the year the newly formed Garden group has undertaken a major redevelopment of the church gardens.

In the rectory the kitchen floor was replaced – 80 years of being walked on, combined with the dampness underground on the Hall / rectory side of the property meant that the floor boards became unsafe. We only realised this when two people at different times fell through the floor boards. Your new council will be dealing with a similar problem that has developed in the rectory laundry, as well as a sink hole outside the rectory back door. One day I expect to disappear down the hole, and am hoping I do not re-appear in Wonderland!

During the year under review major work was undertaken on the fabric of our church. The barge boards were replaced, work was done on the roof and gutters, and the fleche had some major replacement work done. The bell-cote was almost entirely rebuilt. Thanks to Greg Eaves and his company for their work, and for submitting a tender which benefitted the parish so enormously.

Matters Financial
Flowing on from that mention of financial benefit to the parish, you will see from the audited Churchwardens’ accounts that during the last financial year the parish was greatly blessed. Your giving and fund-raising endeavours have put us in a position where we have a surplus in the order of R29 000. When you consider that we ended the previous financial year with a surplus of only R399, we have much for which to give thanks to our God.

The parish needs to thank Edwina Dippenaar and her dedicated teams of helpers for their sterling efforts in raising the funds we need to continue bearing witness to God's love through our worship in this place.

We extend our thanks to Caroline Isted for the work she has done as the parish treasurer and are thrilled she has agreed to continue in that role. Thanks are also due to Joyce Francis and her helpers for their administration of the financial side of our parish.

Finally we also need to thank Duncan Gilmour for his great kindness, for the second year, in completing the audit of the financial statements.

Matters Liturgical
As I mentioned before we continue to offer the sacrifice of the Mass 6 times a week. Many of you will know that an extra Mass has been added during Lent at 1:05 pm on Wednesdays, as an opportunity for ministry to those who work over the road at Woolworths Financial Services.

I would like to thank all those who assist in making our Masses what they are. Sacristans, servers and lay ministers all play an important part in the witness we bear to our liturgical tradition and, more importantly, to our God. Thank you too for the willingness a number of our retired priests have shown in supplying their services when I have been on leave.

As far as the other Sacraments go the year under review has seen 13 Baptisms, no weddings and 16 Confirmations. That figure is significant as the group being Confirmed was the biggest in the parish since 1990.

Whilst not a sacrament, but a Corporal Work of Mercy, there were 8 funerals in the parish in the past year.

Our liturgical life was greatly enhanced through the generous gifts of a number of people. A parishioner very generously paid to restore the Selby Taylor Chasuble, which you might remember was given to the parish in 2010.
The fabric needed to have 2 new altar cloths made for each of our three altars was given to the parish soon after last year’s Vestry meeting. A number of people in the fabric trade very generously gave of their time and talent in sewing them for us. We were also given the fabric required for new dust covers for our altars and credence tables.

Another generous gift has been the money necessary for us to have a funeral pall made to match the black set of vestments given us in 2009. I hope the pall will be ready for our keeping of All Souls later in the year.

For many years the liturgies of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the Triduum Sacrum have followed the rites set out in a booklet printed quite some years ago. The rites outlined in that booklet were the draft versions of the rites which were included, with some improvements, in the Anglican Prayer Book of 1989. Our new booklet containing these rites will be printed in time for Palm Sunday this year.

Matters of the congregation
A new development in the life of the congregation is the Outreach Programme. The focus of this new endeavour by Michael Meyer and his team is pastoral, and geared specifically at the more senior members of our community of faith. This programme will have its first event on Tuesday the 27th March.

The life of our parish is faithfully portrayed in the editions of the Icon, which Cecilia Barfield has now edited for over a year. We thank her for building upon the solid foundation laid by Lesley George. Your new parish council will be having a review of the Icon, and particularly the way in which it is distributed.

While there are those who leave the parish, either because they have gone to Jesus, or because they are no longer happy about some aspect of our common life, we have had a steady number of people join the parish through the year. 

At the beginning of this report I mentioned the concept of anamnesis. For many years this parish has been the major witness to the Anglo-Catholic tradition not only in the Diocese, nor in the Province, but internationally. Only last week we had some visitors who have settled in this country who were told by a priest at Westminster Abbey that they would find the kind of worship they prefer at St Michael’s, Observatory. We try faithfully to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, through the days of the week. There are a number of differing types of Mass that we offer.

Let me end by reminding you of the wonderful words of Dom Gregory Dix when he wrote, “Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.”

Like Dom Gregory Dix I make no apology for repeating these words over and over again: they move me profoundly each time I read them, as I am reminded of the humbling task which God calls me to at his altar.



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