25 years: moving with grace – Mary-Anne Rulfs

Did you read last week’s blog by Stewart, celebrating our 25th birthday? It’s well worth a read if you missed it, or another read even if you saw it last week.

Stewart captured these things lying at the heart of our past 25 years as an Anglican presence in the heart of Robina’s town centre precinct:
               Hard work
               Adapting to change.
               Creating a sense of place, belonging and identity
Most importantly
               God’s provision
               And people, people, people.

He encouraged us to
share a memory or recall a person or moment that has been special to you in this Church community.

Who or what came to mind for you?

25 years ago we had just moved to the Gold Coast and Robina Town Centre was brand spanking new. We have photos of our kids with balloons they brought home from the opening of some shop or other.

25 years is the span of a generation. Our little kids are all grown up and have moved away. They have children of their own. We are now in a different season of life. The town centre has changed in many ways, as has the demographic it was built to serve.

Anglican Church Robina continues to be a vibrant presence of the living God in the town centre precinct in a new generation because all the qualities present and visible over 25 years continue to be at the heart of who we are.

While I wasn’t part of the original community who worked to establish Trinity Anglican Mission, I do have special memories of some faithful people who bravely allowed the vision for this church to grow in scope and influence and come to life – people who have helped shape my journey with our Anglican Church Robina community as a student minister, a parishioner and now as associate priest.

Some of you will know these people. If you don’t, I’d love to introduce them to you…

Trish Knight
I met Trish in the late 1990s when we served together on the board at Emmanuel College. We became friends and enjoyed some great times as Emmanuel parents. While our family belonged to a Uniting Church community at that time, the Knights were integral to the Trinity Anglican Mission community.
I was always struck by Trish’s practical and compassionate faith and her commitment to TAM’s life and ministry, along with her husband Gerard, and their children Laura and Samuel. Trish spoke with enormous affection for her church family, and it clearly brought her deep joy to see the community growing and serving God together.

Trish and Gerard eventually moved away to work overseas. I remember Trish crying many tears about leaving her friends and this church. When they visited Robina a few years ago it was great to catch up and celebrate that I too had found immense joy in belonging to the Robina Anglican community!

Ian Begbie
Ian was chaplain at Emmanuel College when our kids enrolled in 1996. He and Penny were passionately committed to the TAM community and its ministry and he loved sharing stories about that. As the consummate story-teller, Ian captivated children and adults alike with wonderful stories of life and faith.

After his retirement, Ian joined the Emmanuel College board and we served together for many years in that capacity. Ian’s strong and practical faith, his capacity for bringing the gospel to life through story and his giftedness for connecting with people were a great inspiration for me. For example, Ian always had a story about the latest person people he had just invited to the Begbie’s Bible study group through a ‘random’ encounter in the course of daily life. Some of these stories and the ongoing connection people had with that group were amazing. Ian and Penny’s hospitality and commitment to discipleship stand out to me as some of the most genuine and authentic expressions of hospitable Christian ministry I have encountered.

20 years ago when I was considering moving from physiotherapy to teaching, Ian encouraged me to consider ministry instead – not because the church needed more ministers but because he recognised that my gifts and calling were better suited to that vocation. I’m grateful for his wisdom and his friendship.

It was a great joy to worship with Ian and Penny when they visited us at Robina Anglican from Sydney a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday when I was preaching and I sensed something profoundly significant about God’s faithfulness gifted to us through the people we encounter in our lives.

Malcolm and Rowena King
Malcolm was Rector when I came to this parish as a student minister in 2012. His warmth and wisdom were a great example to me of a pastoral priest. His wide experience in ministry opened my eyes to what’s possible when we look ‘outside the box’ and see God at work in ministries beyond our own eg ministry partnerships that are mutually beneficial because they share and enhance each other’s giftings and resources and strengthen ministry.

Rowena began ministry formation and her BTh at St Francis College with me in 2012. We became good friends as we travelled up and down to Brisbane on the train together, often carrying big bundles of books and absorbed in our latest Greek or church history or theology assignment. Rowena was very committed to this community and cared deeply for people.

When the Kings returned to the UK in 2013 and Rowena was ordained there, I stayed in touch, and stayed with them while visiting the UK for further study. I was always touched by their genuine affection for people in this parish. It seems in their brief time in the parish they forged strong connections.

Their brief yet important time in the parish helped me to deepen my connection with this community through their friendship, mentoring and encouragement. Little did I know that less than 10 years later I would be part of the ministry team!

And then there’s Elroy Mee … Elroy ran a parenting course at Emmanuel in 1999 – ‘parenting with pizzazz’  – which I participated in. That was the beginning of a long and rich association with Elroy that has been influenced by the faithful ministry of this parish. It’s very special to be ministering alongside her now.

And finally, Stewart. I am so very grateful for his ministry to me in my walk with Christ and as a colleague. It is an absolute joy to be in ministry, serving this community, alongside him. Our parish is so much the stronger for his vision, generosity, hard work and persistence. He is helping us to adapt to change and create a sense of place, belonging and identity for this time and beyond.

We will all have stories about people who have been special to us in this community. Share them when you can!

As we all take up the challenge to keep growing under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit and serving as an effective witness to Christ for another 25 years, I’m sure the Knights, the Begbies and the Kings, along with countless others who have been integral to the past 25 years, would celebrate with us and encourage us to continue moving with grace to the glory of God.