On Sunday 17 November 2019, the Parish of New Town & Lenah Valley held a special service to dedicate their new Play Garden. The service began inside St James’ Church but after the word and prayers the congregation gathered outside in the Play Garden.

Welcoming the congregation to the service Archdeacon and Rector of the parish, Dr Bill Stewart, said,

“The Play Garden project is a major development in our vision to grow as a confident, flourishing parish. The Play Garden itself will not grow our church, but it will help us to do new ministries and build relationships where we can introduce new people to Jesus.

While the garden is intended to be a place enjoyed by people of all ages, the focus on interactive play is shaped by our commitment to active ministry to young people”.

The Memorial Garden situated within the Play Garden will continue to be an integral part of that space.

“It has been be re-landscaped with a prayer walk being added, which we believe will help it to be a more welcoming and prayerful place,” Bill said.

This project was made possible by the decision of the congregation at St Andrew’s, Lenah Valley in 2016 to merge with St James’ and St John’s in New Town so that the property there could be sold and the capital re-invested in the Play Garden and other children and youth ministry projects.

During the service Bishop Richard preached on God’s word from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4, verses 13–25, where Jesus calls his first disciples, including James, while they were casting a fishing net from a boat beside the Sea of Galilee. Jesus calls them to ‘be fishers for people.’

Bishop Richard drew attention to the boat and play net in the garden which is intended to remind the parish of their call to make disciples — ‘fishing for people’!

Following the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the garden was dedicated to the Glory of God. The dedication began with Bishop Richard acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Play Garden has been built and he read an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘Prayer for the journey of healing’.

The Dedication prayer was written by the Rector, based upon the 2022 Vision for the Diocese of Tasmania. Bishop Richard prayed [with the congregation’s response in bold]:

Today, we give thanks to God for the provision of this Play Garden and the re-landscaped Memorial Garden and place of prayer as a resource for ministry and mission.

We give thanks for the faithful people whose mission heart and commitment to stewarding God’s gifts unlocked resources so that they could be re-invested here for God’s service.

We pray that in this place, we the people of New Town and Lenah Valley Anglican, will minister the good news of Jesus Christ, especially embracing our responsibility to pass on the new life we have now in Jesus to younger people and their families, to establish new Christians in the faith, and to equip them for our mission of making disciples.

We pray that, with God’s help, our ministry and mission in this place will enable us to grow as a confident, flourishing parish, making disciples of Jesus in our corner of Tasmania.

By the grace of God, may this Play Garden be:

  • a place where the Lord Jesus is glorified
  • a place of safety for all, especially children and all vulnerable people
  • a place that will be enjoyed by people of every age and stage of life
  • a place where our church may build disciple-making relationships with people of little faith or none
  • a place of loving service where the people of New Town and Lenah Valley Anglican share God’s blessings with our community.

To the glory of God, I dedicate this Play Garden and the re-landscaped Memorial Garden and place of prayer; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

After the service, with the assistance of the children from the church and local community, Bishop Richard planted a Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia Ficifolia) in the Play Garden.

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