On Palm Sunday we said thank you and goodbye to our honorary senior’s minister of five years, Bruce Geeves, who has decided to attend a church within walking distance of home rather than contend with Sunday bus timetables. (Our loss, their gain, we think.)
Bruce loves a party and he loves 1970s music so our friend, Liz Hudnott, stepped up to the occasion to make Bruce a cake with a record on a turntable which included the words “We know we’ll never find another you.” Bruce is one of a kind and everyone found it very easy to say something special about him.
As part of Bruce’s ministry, he set a vision for seniors – who, after all, comprise a significant proportion of our congregations across Tasmania. We are still working out how to carry out this vision after Bruce’s time with us but there is one simple activity which has been no trouble at all to perpetuate. We even discovered this while Bruce was on holiday after Christmas (he likes holidays too!) In Bruce’s absence, without any prompting from anyone, one of the participants rose in church during the notices to let everyone know that lunch at the pub was still on.
So, on the first Sunday of every month, at around 12 noon, the seniors – and anyone else who would like to come to the senior’s lunch regardless of age – start trickling down to the local pub where the publican has agreed that we can order in the bar at bar prices and then sit in the dining room to talk and eat our meals (except for when they are booked out on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day when we sit on high stools at bar tables.)
Its secrets of success seem to be that: (1) it is an activity for seniors to which other people are welcome to attend, which is part of our culture at St George’s that everyone is welcome regardless of age (the youngest participants to date were young children of a parish councillor); (2) it is now listed in our newsletter each week in our calendar of events along with Playgroup, services and Bible Studies including Mum’s Bible Study and Young Adults Bible Study, which helps everyone get a message that we are valued regardless of our stage in life; and (3) it doesn’t require any planning now, nor does it matter whether any clergy attend, as we all need to eat and we enjoy catching up socially with whoever comes each month. And we enjoy chatting and listening to each other.
We really look forward to this monthly gathering and it will remain a legacy of Bruce’s ministry amongst us. Bruce has been a blessing to our parish and to many beyond. We pray he settles quickly into his new church home and returns to join us for lunch!
Could this idea of Bruce’s be an idea for your parish?
Anne Brown, St George’s Battery Point