New chapter begins for Zion with arrival of new Rector
The parish of Zion welcomed a new “fellow pilgrim” on Friday evening (September 9) as the Revd David White was instituted the new Rector by Archbishop Michael Jackson. The institution took place on the Feast of St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise who is famed for, among other things, bringing the gift of a cow which provided enough milk for the whole monastery. The preacher, the Revd Sarah Marry, said parishioners would have to prepare themselves for the disappointment that David had not brought a cow. However, she said that the parish was blessed to have him.
The numerous parishioners of Zion were joined on Friday by David’s family as well as parishioners from David’s former parish of Carlow Union and friends and many clerical colleagues.
In her sermon, the Revd Sarah Marry said that while the cow was the stuff of legend, it was St Ciaran’s establishment of the community at Clonmacnoise that remained his enduring legacy. Clonmacnoise developed to become a great centre of prayer, study and monastic life. Ciaran died in his early 30s so he didn’t see the project reach fruition. In this, Ms Marry said, it is reflected what is true of a life of ministry and what St Paul said in the Gospel reading (from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians).
“Responding to the call to mission or ministry is not based on the expectation or hope of gaining any particular reward or result. Rather it is a response to a call from God and therefore something one is compelled to do,” she said. “Ciaran may have hoped to see the fruits of his labour, the fulfilment of the vision he had been granted but that is not why he did it. Having received the call from God he had no choice but to work towards it. It wasn’t about him, but about preaching the Gospel in a particular place and doing so in a way that spoke to the needs of the people and equipped others to go and do the same. In this way, those engaged in ministry find themselves sowing seeds, building foundations, fostering relationships and encouraging others’ creativity with less time spent on projects which have a definite end goal in mind which can be clearly recognised when they are completed.”
Likewise, she explained, Paul said that proclamation of the Gospel was not a means to an end, not a way of gaining a reward but a response to the call of God. She said Zion’s new Rector did not come to gain reward but in response to the call of God to come and preach and proclaim the Gospel, to lead worship and to journey with parishioners through every season and circumstance.
“In doing so he may, as Paul, seek to be all things to all people. You might take this to mean that he will bend over backwards to keep everyone happy but actually this speaks of seeing everyone as those to whom he will speak God’s word. It also means approaching that task differently whether in the parish primary school or parish healer prayer group. But more importantly he will see each person as created in the image and likeness of God and equally blessed by his love. It means he will see every individual as he sees himself… He will first and foremost be a fellow pilgrim not someone who sets himself above you racing around the parish pointing out the specks in your eyes but as someone who like you seeks to know Christ, proclaim Christ and become more like Christ. He will shepherd you faithfully and compassionately. He will lead worship with dignity and care and you are blessed to have him as your new Rector,” she stated.
Speaking after the service, Jane Marriman welcomed David on behalf of the parish. She hoped he would enjoy the garden and said parishioners looked forward to seeing the fruits of his labour. She described Zion as a proactive parish and assured the new Rector of their full support. They thanked the nominators who did a great job in finding the new Rector and thanked David for saying yes. She thanked everyone who had supported the parish during the vacancy and all who had helped plan the institution.
Carlow parishioner, Carolyn Good, told David’s new parishioners what they could expect. She spoke of his horticultural skills and his interest in Eco–Congregation and his aspirations to think globally and act locally. She said he was great with the school children and also had a talent for building connections. He was a skilled preacher and pastor and a leader who inspired new leaders.
Archbishop Michael Jackson welcomed David to the dioceses as fulsomely as he had been welcomed to the parish. He observed that the key dates in the history of Zion were included in the order of service and suggested that those at the service were a part of that history which was being made that evening. He said he was delighted to see so many of David’s family and former parishioners present ask it gave a sense of solidarity as Zion embarked on a new chapter.
David thanked everyone for coming to the service and paid tribute to all of those he shares his life with for their support. He said the preceding few days had been busy but added that the rectory was beautiful and thanked all who had given their time. He thanked all involved in the service. “We live in challenging times but as Christians we believe that good is forever at our sides,” he concluded.