On the evening of 27 January there was much rejoicing at St John’s Canberra when the Reverend David McLennan was inducted by Bishop Mark as the next Rector of this historic parish. Dave’s wife, Catherine, and children William, Anna, Maggie, and Jack were there to witness this important event.
Dave was presented to the Bishop by Margaret Brown and Sharon Newport from St Mary in the Valley, where Dave had been Rector for the previous five years.
Noting that it was the feast day of St John Chrysostom (coincidentally also Cath and Dave’s 21st wedding anniversary!), Bishop Stephen Pickard in his sermon drew heavily on the life and activities of Chrysostom. Chrysostom’s theological analysis and interrogation of the culture of his day was offered as a guide for this new chapter of Dave’s ministry of preaching, public theology and care for the needy.
One of the symbols of ministry presented to Dave was a food hamper, symbolic of the Parish’s commitment through St John’s Care to the third mark of mission—to respond to human need through loving service. St John’s Care is the emergency relief agency of the Parish, which is supported by other Canberra parishes and community organisations.
Among those who welcomed Dave to his new role were the Reverend David Campbell from the Presbyterian Church of St Andrew, who spoke on behalf of the wider church community, and local member Alicia Payne MP. Alicia was baptised and married at St John’s, and her grandfather was on the ministry team in the 1950s. She spoke of how important St John’s has been, and is, in the life of her family and welcomed Dave’s appointment. She underscored the importance of the Parish in the community and the work of St John’s Care.
One of the St John’s churchwardens, John Richards, welcomed the McLennan family by reciting excerpts from a ‘recently discovered’ poem, ‘The Priest from Tuggra’nong’ – which bore an uncanny resemblance to Banjo Patterson’s ‘The Man from Snowy River’.
In responding to his commissioning Dave thanked a number of people, including his predecessor at St John’s, Canon Paul Black (who oversaw Dave’s earlier curacy) and Dave’s family, for the significant ways in which they share in his ministry. He also gave an indication of his vision for this parish, as a place which bears witness to the life of worship and prayer to which God invites all people.
As the guests shared drinks and snacks on the lawn afterwards there was a sense of gratitude to God and hope for a new chapter, in which the good work of the past can be built on for a new era.