Gordon Ramsay was farewelled from Kippax after 19 years of ministry on 3 April. Here is his final speech, delivered at the farewell event on Sunday evening.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.
I’d also like to acknowledge the visitors who have come this weekend, both those who are here tonight and those who were present this morning.
When I was at theological college a friend of mine and I would have regular conversations about where we might end up.
He had spent some time living in Canberra and was very keen to move back. I had spent the obligatory couple of days here on a year 5 school excursion and a couple of family holidays, and in my judgement from a distance I explained how there would be few places that I would less want to be in ministry.
I’d like to place officially on the record tonight that I was wrong.
19-20 years back was a very difficult time for our family. Though we were certainly celebrating the joys and exhaustion of a young family, we knew that it was important for us to move from the place that we were in at the time, and we were getting a few approaches to try something new.
When conversations with Kippax were occurring, we had to check. It seemed great. In fact it seemed fantastic. But it was a little hard to know if it seemed so good, because things were so difficult where we were.
The reality is that it was and is and has been fantastic.
Kippax is very Canberra.
Everything is thought through. I think there are probably more words in our strategic plan than in some of the books of the bible. And yet Kippax has a delightful quirk: Everything is a little chaotic and slightly under prepared. We have lived half on the edge for most of these 19 years.
Kippax can be a daunting community at times.
When I arrived 19% of the congregation had post graduate degrees. There were more PhDs on a Sunday morning than in several university faculties.
From time to time I have been reminded what the original Greek wording really meant, or what the psychological effects of trauma can do in circumstances. And I still remember the humble and yet firm comment from one of the Wentworth group of scientists when I referred to “dirt” in a sermon about sowing seeds. “We like to call it soil, Gordon” he said
Kippax has artists.
Kippax has engineers.
Kippax has lawyers
Kippax has musicians. Some of Canberra’s great musicians
Kippax has school teachers. My goodness, does it have school teachers
Kippax has chaplains and carers.
Kippax has it all.
But above all, Kippax has a shared passion to make this world a better place and a determination to make this passion an ongoing reality.
Quite early on in my time the church council made a couple of very simple declarations. I have been quoting these two statements for much of the past 19 years as a demonstration that policy, theology or framework really matter.
The statements were, firstly, that it didn’t matter how people connected with Kippax, they were equally important, and would be offered the same level of care and support.
The second was that all aspects of life were equally important: physical, emotional, spiritual, social. All of them.
And so my involvement in congregational worship, or mentoring and personal development, or community building and support, or policy advocacy… All of these have been expressions of this vision that the Kippax council endorsed.
I have been supported in it all and for that I have been extremely thankful.
Some people might suggest that my giftedness hasn’t always been the most practical of life – Don hinted as much this morning.
Some people would suggest that putting quick set concrete in a hole and then trying to get a pole into it wasn’t the wisest thing.
Some people would suggest that trying to get a piece of perishing plastic to hold water for an adult baptism by taping it up with duct and gaffa tape wasn’t sensible
Some people may even suggest that it would have been better to blow out the candle before we left on Christmas Eve.
I acknowledge your wisdom and I offer you my sincere thanks.
And I wonder at this point, just a little, why the wisdom sometimes seems to come after I may have needed it.
But the reality is that I have been surrounded and supported by many.
I stand on the shoulders of giants and in the embrace of saints.
There have truly been thousands. I have tried to pass on my thanks directly to as many as I could, either at the time, or later. But here and now I express my thanks to all.
And there are obviously some who have been the most important and supportive
To Justine, Joel and Lyndelle co-collaborators in so much and an absolutely devoted family – Thank you.
The future for each of us lies ahead.
I will always value what these past 19 years have meant.
And I will be and remain absolutely determined to leave this place a better world than I found it.
I hope and trust that the people of Kippax and the people of Canberra will continue with this determination as well.
If we can each continue with that, we can be content at night.