Reverend Guy Matthews recently celebrated ten years as Rector of Good Shepherd, Curtin. Guy and Sita were interviewed during the 4:30pm service by the Chair of Parish Council, Michael Simon, and Anglican News asked Guy some questions about longer term ministry in one place.
How did you come to be at Curtin? Is this the longest you have ever been a Rector in one parish?
I finished my schooling here before moving to Sydney, but my family remained in Canberra. After 14 years of ordained ministry in Sydney, Sita and I looked for opportunities to serve in Canberra. After a brief stopover in Wanniassa the Lord led us to Good Shepherd. Ten years is the longest I have served in one parish (by three months).
How has Curtin changed in the time you have been there?
Under God we have seen the church grow and our demographic get significantly younger. We now have many young adults as well as a blossoming children and youth ministry. I think we have also seen the church become more attractive and welcoming to newcomers from all backgrounds.
What have been some of the highs and lows of the last ten years?
The highs have come mainly through seeing Spirit-led change in people’s lives, whether it’s coming to know Christ for the first time, or growing in their love for him and living for him. Getting to know and serve alongside our Karen brothers and sisters (who have come mostly from refugee camps in Thailand) has also been a highlight. Seeing the children and youth ministry grow has been a great answer to prayer. The lows include the recent lockdowns, the death of beloved brothers and sisters and the moving away of others.
What are some things you have learned from staying in the same parish for ten years?
One of my early mentors advised me, ‘Don’t overestimate what can be achieved in one year, don’t underestimate what can be achieved in five years’. I think we have seen that at Good Shepherd x2! We put a lot of work into preparing the soil and sowing the seed but the fruit may take many years to come forth.
What would you say are the benefits of staying long-term in one place?
Staying long-term allows for stability and consistency in parish life. It also allows deep trust to be built between the Rector and other leaders in the church. This in turn allows for more thoughtful and long-term plans to be put in place which we trust will see long-term fruit.
Do you have any advice for other Rectors about ministry over time or anything you’ve learned from your experience?
Stick to the basics: Love and serve your people, preach the Word in season and out of season, pray on all occasions, work on your own godliness and building healthy family life, encourage and empower others to use their gifts to serve in the church, keep thinking about how to make church inviting for all newcomers.
Do you have any future plans at Curtin?
We have recently been through a ‘church consultation’ with Reach Australia. During the process they carried out a thorough analysis of our church and helped us identify pathways for growth into the future. The comprehensive report has given us much food for thought. It boils down to being as clear as we can about our mission and the various parts to it and then intentionally building teams and directing resources to enable the mission. This is what we are going to be working on in the coming year. We are also considering how we can allow Good Shepherd to continue to grow with current limited facilities.