Annual General Meeting of the Utrecht Chaplaincy at All Saints Amersfoort
April 23, AD 2016
Let’s begin by remembering before God those who have been baptized since our last AGM and so made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven: Emily Wu, Marijn Boneschanscher, Eva Cremer Eindhoven, Leah Boneschanscher and Candice Kollard.
We remember those who’ve been confirmed since our last AGM: Daan, Dominice, Esther, Stefan, Tomas, Maira, Paula, Stephanie, Charlotte, Emilie, Arthur, Thomas, Jack, Julia, Salomé, Gerben, Suzet, (another) Emily, Candice, Robin, Alfonsina, Mattijs, Eliane, Erik, Agatha! 25 people!
Grant, O Lord, that these youth and adults may by your mercy continue to grow in health of body, mind and heart, and serve you faithfully all the days of their life. Amen.
We celebrated these marriages: Astrid van Rossum and Frank Dill; Sandra Prins and Gerjan Timmerman; and Annie de Bie and Edgar Neuhaus!
Let’s remember before God those in our congregations who have finished their course in the faith and whom we believe are resting in God and awaiting, as we are, the general resurrection to glory:
Dorothy Parsons, Jean Rommes, Elzelies van Engelen, Margaret Vermeij, Hermon van den Berge, and Co van Amerongen. (and there are others who are related to our members but not in our chaplaincy –Kim’s father, Jolanda’s mother)
O Father of all, we pray to you for those whom we love but see no longer. Grant them your peace; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purposes of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May they rest in peace, and rise in glory!
I speak of all these people, because in a way, this is the core focus of our ministry here – bringing people to a living faith, and administering the means of grace that our Lord has left us – His Word and Sacraments – to love, to encourage, to care for, and to strengthen the faithful so that we are all ready for the life of eternity with our Lord.
In the body of Christ there are many members and it is very evident as we read through all the reports of the chaplaincy of just how many people are involved and in such a diversity of ways.
There as so many people to thank it would take a great deal of time. I give special thanks to the wardens – to Adrian, Rosemarie and in recent months, to Peter, who bring with them such necessary organizational gifts and loving commitment necessary to the ongoing running of our chaplaincy. Many thanks to Sandra who has taken on the job of Treasurer and to Simon who has been Secretary as well as a great contributor to the Building Maintenance Committee. Much gratitude goes to Hanna for her help in so many ways in the administration of the church and the communications of our mission to the wider world.
My focus has to be primarily on worship, pastoral care and teaching. Thanks are due to Trevor for providing cover and assistance in leading services; to our director of music and organist, Henk, and to the choir, who put heart and soul into our Sunday music here in Utrecht, to Eppo, Guus and Sara who lead the music at 9am services and to Maria and her band who lead devoutly and with enthusiasm the music for two services a month. There are so many people who are helping as stewards, readers, intercessors, assistants, altar servers, chalice assistants, in flowers, cleaning brass and linens and towels, and to Frank our Sacristan, and to Steven as maker of the monumental rota! Thanks Gonny and the many helpers during worship in the teaching and care of the children and infants.
Over the past year, beyond the ongoing ministries of a chaplain, were these added tasks of finding a pastor to lead this exciting church plant in Amersfoort. It is a joy to have Grant finally here (and his family) and a great encouragement to begin to share and see the expansion of our ministry in these cities. (Our overall attendance has increased by about 20% since the opening of Amersfoort.) Grant is taking half the services in Zwolle and sharing in leading that congregation. He is enabling much greater pastoral care of the flock. It’s been great to see Grant sharing his gifts of teaching in the Bible study and in confirmation prep and I meet with him almost weekly for prayer and mutual encouragement as we share the burdens and joys of ministry.
We have begun the task of replanting Holy Trinity Utrecht. We are observing changes to the attendance in Utrecht – our early conclusions are that the Lord is filling up our 11am services with new people – but we’ve seen the most dramatic change to our 9am services – in May and June we will change the 9am 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays to be said services instead of sung. The Replant Committee will be looking at a strategy for continued growth in Holy Trinity Utrecht, considering the longer term questions about our 9am services and also, the much discussed question of our service times!
In the coming year we hope to have some plans in place for joint teaching opportunities between Utrecht and Amersfoort – a course on Anglicanism, expanding opportunities for Bible study, and continuing with the Christian Classics study group.
With more room at Holy Trinity on Sundays, we’ve seen an expansion in the focus on ministry to students. Erik has been doing a great job in coordinating this ministry. Erik and the other students are thinking of ways to make more connections, given the number of International students in Utrecht, including a second Alpha course starting when students first arrive in the Autumn.
I’m pleased and encouraged with the increase over the past year in attendance and interest in the Daily Offices during the week at Holy Trinity – we have a few regulars now – Madeleine, Lianne, Maria, Brian and Jean Luc and students joining for a breakfast on Tuesday mornings, an initiative of Brian and Erik, who often invite friends.
I’m excited about the introduction of a Prayer Ministry in Utrecht and in Amersfoort – there is more ongoing training in May and June and I hope to see this ministry being made available on more Sundays after services starting in the Autumn. We have had some examples of miraculous healings in our midst in the past year! – the Lord is at work in dramatic ways as well as in His manifold hidden ways.
Thanks are due to the Local Contacts who are sharing in the pastoral ministry in Utrecht through keeping eyes out for those in need of a visit from the priest and who also sometimes make visits and to Harry who continues a prison ministry and makes himself available for visiting.
What a joy and encouragement to hear of Thomas Fink-Jensen’s lay ministry in Oxford and now his approval for training by the Bishop’s Advisory Panel starting this Autumn, hopefully at Wycliffe Hall, training for the priesthood – and also his upcoming marriage, God willing, to Sarah on August 27th!
Zwolle Anglican Church continues to present its particular blessings and challenges as it seeks to be faithful in that city with ministry support from afar! Cecilia has summarized nicely what is happening there. Thank you to Cecilia and the leadership team who have given of themselves to the life of that church and who are committed to its growth and to its ongoing witness.
We have one request that has come to us recently – something that will be dealt with in the coming months and with the new wardens and Council. Arnhem – Nijmegen chaplaincy has asked to enter into discussions with us to have a more formal relationship or link with our chaplaincy with the aim of securing coverage for services and some pastoral care. This is something that has been happening over the past two years with myself and Trevor assisting them. The newly elected Wardens will meet with them soon and the new Council will reflect on what we can do.
Our call as Christians is to continual conversion and reformation – and this has a threefold dimension – the personal, the ecclesial (the Church), and to the whole of Creation.
On the personal level that perfecting of our loves occurs through the ministry of the Word written and made visible in the Sacraments, through prayer and through our fellowship with others and teaching ministries. Our church is providing opportunity for this growth in many ways – we will continue to reflect on ways we could provide this more helpfully.
On the ecclesial or church level, we perhaps have the greatest challenge in Utrecht. I’ve never ministered in a church with such diversity –– though it is an expression of Anglicanism’s breadth, it is mind boggling and often heart-rending to find it all in one place! We differ in church backgrounds – not just whether you are high church or low church Anglican, charismatic, evangelical, traditionalist or Anglo-Catholic – we have all these. But we have people from Catholic Apostolic, Dutch protestant or Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and other Protestant denominations from many countries. We are a mixture of liberal and conservative and traditionalist, on moral questions – we differ strongly in how we think the Church should be reformed. We differ on our understanding of our relation to Israel. We differ on how English Holy Trinity should be – some wishing it would have a more British character – to mention an example – one person asked if we would sing God save the Queen on Sunday to mark her birthday (I will pray a Collect for her tomorrow).
We are divided on many things – but we are united on the most essential – our faith in Jesus Christ and our union with Him – and our desire and the challenge to love one another despite our differences. I think all of us are seeking in our chaplaincy an Anglican spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness, of friendliness towards all and clarity about the gospel, all centred on the Rock that is Christ.
We also have an imperative, from our Lord, and the love He pours into our hearts that compels us to share the gospel with the wider world. We do this implicitly, simply by being Christians fed and nurtured by Word and Sacrament, and then walking outside our church doors and our private homes – every encounter is an opportunity for witness to Christ by our presence, or quiet deeds and sometimes with words. We are yeast in the dough! As a church we reflect on this wider world, Christian and non-Christian, through our charitable givings – and I thank those on the Charitable Givings Committee who take great care in deciding how this expression of our love of the wider world is shared. We are still looking for someone who will coordinate mission outreach in the church in Utrecht – involving not just our money but also our hands and feet.
Thank you for the opportunity to minister among you and for the many encouragements and your forbearances. May God continue to bless and keep us, to make His face to shine upon us, and to give us His peace.
In the love of Christ, David