Grace and peace be to all of you, my dear sisters and brothers!
This time last year, we celebrated the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the Rev. Dr Francis McDougall and his fellow missionaries on Borneo soil. In the spirit of their missionary zeal, the theme “Reaching Forward” was chosen.
And we need to continue to Reach Forward, and do so intentionally. This we only do by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Reading the Scripture, especially the New Testament, we are struck by the pervasive presence of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was intimately connected with Jesus throughout his entire life and ministry (cf. Luke 1:35; Matt 1:18,20; Matt 3:16; Mark 1:10). It was the same Holy Spirit who gave life to the Church, by descending on the early followers as they were gathered together in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
As Christians, we are called to live in the presence and power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to confess Jesus as Lord (1Cor 12:3), empowers us to serve God (1 Cor 12:4-11), binds us together as the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13), helps us to pray (Rom 8:26), and intercedes for us with God the Father (Rom 8:27). The Spirit guides us (Gal 5:25), helping us to live like Jesus (Gal 5:22-23) with the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – growing in us.
We have much to celebrate and give thanks to God for. It gives Bishop Nelson and I great joy to meet and get to know many of our parishioners, to hear your stories, rejoice in your achievements and success and share your pains and struggles. Even as we rejoice in God’s manifold goodness, we need to continue to renew our commitment to live as an essential member of the body of Christ, using all our gifts to build the church and share the love of Christ with others. We need to ask the Lord to fill us afresh with his Holy Spirit, as we consider our own personal participation in the fellowship, worship, life and mission of a HEALTHY CHURCH.
We cannot but be intentional and strategic in all that we do and undergird it all with fervent prayers. To this end, we have emplaced several new initiatives and given clear direction and purpose to existing bodies.
(i) CLERGY SCHOOLS. We have had several of these, to further equip our clergy.
(ii) ANGLICAN PRAYER MOVEMENT AND MOBILISATION (APMM), headed by the Rev Ivor Lim, is set up to encourage and further equip the prayer life of our members.
(iii) DIOCESAN CHILDREN MINISTRY BOARD (DCMB), chaired by Canon Andy Shie, to see to the development of Children Ministry in all parishes.
(iv) DIOCESAN EDUCATION AND LITERATURE BOARD, headed by Rev Alfred Damu, to attend to our teaching and equipping materials, including for Confirmation Classes.
(v) DIOCESAN MISSION AND EVANGELISM BOARD, under Mr Philip Yong is to encourage and equip parishes to think and act “missionally”.
(vi) In relation to our Mission Schools under our ANGLICAN MISSION SCHOOLS COUNCIL, headed by Mr Douglas Telajan, we have now emplaced the Rev Rodriguez Unak as Chaplain to Mission Schools. He is based at St Thomas’s Secondary School, Mondays – Fridays.
(vii) CLERGY. January 2019 saw the ordination of 6 new priests and 9 new deacons. Presently, we have 12 seminarians in training at STM, Seremban and STS, Kota Kinabalu. Three of them will graduate at the end of this year.
(viii) INTERNS. We have five interns being considered for training. They are now being exposed for parish life experience, in Bintulu and Miri.
(ix) NEW PARISHES Three centres have recently been elevated and proclaimed as new parishes: St Lawrence’s Church, Sabu; Holy Trinity Church, Lambir and St Matthias’s Church, Tudan (Miri) with another two being made autonomous Mission Districts, namely Bau Mission District (covering all Bau Speaking area) and St Mary’ Mission District, Matang (having been separated from St Simon’s, Taman Malihah).
(x) STAFF In April, we welcome The Rev Jeffry Renos, formerly my Personal Assistant, and retired Headmaster of St Thomas’s Primary School, Kuching, as our new Diocesan Secretary, taking over from The Rev Stephen Gendang, who has been appointed as Director of our newly established Diocesan Education and Literature Bureau. His appointment will expedite the production of our Catechism Materials for use in our Confirmation Classes and other equipping activities in our parishes. We have also engaged Mdm Ruth Mason as Diocesan Missioner with special responsibility for Children Ministry. Ruth was trained at Buduk Aru. With Ms Chong Fui Lin’s impending retirement, we have recruited Ms Phyllis Montegrai for our Accounts Department. Phyllis, our serving ADYC President, has left a lucrative job to work for the diocese fulltime.
(xi) CLERGY RETIREMENTS Archdeacon Jamal Senada will retire in early August, after over 43 years of faithful service. He will be followed by the Rev John Bujang at the end of the year. In May, we bid farewell to The Rev Jerry Rumpang. He has been granted early retirement on medical ground.
(xii) THE HOUSE OF THE EPIPHANY has for a long time played a pivotal role in the training and equipping of many of our clergy and lay leaders. The over 60 year old partially wooden building is in a state of disrepair. In its place, we will be putting a new five story complex, with a chapel, lecture room, seminar rooms, Library, offices, and accommodations. The estimated cost, including furnishing is RM10 million. The Sarawak state government has kindly given us a grant of RM7 million for the purpose. We need to raise at least another RM3 million.
(xiii) The just completed KIDURONG ANGLICAN CENTRE has now received the Occupation Permit. However, we need to fit the Centre with all the necessary equipment and fittings before we can start utilizing it holding training, seminars, retreats, meetings etc. Amongst others, we need PA & AV Equipment, beds, mattresses, kitchen utensils, desks, chairs etc.
Friends, with all these and many more, we trust that you will continue to partake, support and share in God’s mighty works, with your generous giving. Together, we can do more for God’s glory!
We continue to give thanks to God for the recent DIOCESAN PRAYER CONFERENCE in Sri Aman (13-15 June 2019) and 3RD GEMPURU BESAI ANGLIKA (4-7 July 2019), in Kuching. The Clergy wives play a very important role in their husbands’ ministry. For the first time, we will be holding a CLERGY WIVES’ GATHERING on 20-22 July 2019, in appreciation of their ministry. In August, the ADYC will hold their “ONE VOICE” in Sri Aman and our DWF will hold their 22nd BIENNIAL ASSEMBLY in Sibu. Let us commit all of these to God in prayer as we REACH FORWARD INTENTIONALLY!
With many blessing,
The Rt. Rev. Danald Jute