Dean’s 6th Annual Report to Vestry

18th March 2018

The Very Rev’d Frank Nelson

This year’s Annual Review entitled “Between the Spires”, with the stunning early evening photo taken from the Adelaide Oval by Duncan Udawatta, shows clearly the complexity of the warp and weft that goes to make up St Peter’s Cathedral. I hope that you either have read, or will, read the Review, enjoy the photos as they bring back memories, and take the time to find out more from those who wrote them. The preparation of the Dean’s Report to Vestry is always a time of joy and much wrestling as to how to say as much as possible and still be disciplined to a little over 1500 words. It’s a joy because of all that happens here in the name of Christ, and because there are simply so many good people around, willingly, and often sacrificially, giving of their time, expertise, energy and wisdom.



This morning I want to pay tribute to a few people, knowing that for every one I choose to speak about there are at least three or four others I could have named.

  • Four years ago Joe Thorp took on the role of Dean’s Warden. He has been an outstanding warden, encouraging, cajoling, using his wide common sense and business acumen to guide me, the Executive and the Cathedral Council along the journey. Pressure of work, other voluntary commitments and, perhaps above all, his beloved family, mean that Joe is stepping down as Dean’s Warden as of today.
  • John and Noel Needham have been almost weekly Welcomers for over thirty years. I hazard to guess how many thousands of people they have welcomed into our sacred space, in the process, watching the make-up of visitors and pilgrims change as Australia and visitors to this lucky country have changed demographically. Other long-time Welcomers and Stewards have also had to bow to the passage of time. Thank you all.
  • Ben Oborn has been involved with the plant of the Cathedral, and particularly the vision, layout and maintenance of the Memorial Garden. There comes a time when four-score years can no longer go unnoticed and others must take up the tasks. Ben has been part of a small team who, for many years, have cared for the fabric of the Cathedral. It was thanks to the persistence of the late Peter Ball that a new system of lightning conductors was installed some years ago – undoubtedly meaning that the lightning strike two months ago did far less damage than might otherwise have been the case.
  • Spending far less time at the Cathedral, but one who quickly made his mark is Andrew Victorsen, responsible for events and communications these past two and a half years. Only the fact that you are stepping into a job first created for my daughter in our sister Cathedral of St Paul’s Melbourne, allows me to let you go with any grace. You will leave us with heavy hearts but go with the blessing of us all.



Organ Restoration

As you well know there are two major fabric projects on the go at present. At this meeting last year we took the momentous and courageous decision to go ahead with the restoration of the organ. I will never forget the vote and the absolute unanimity of the meeting in committing to a $2 million programme. In a little over a year we, you, have raised very nearly half of that money – a positively splendid effort. Thank you to our fund-raisers who continue to go about their work quietly and diligently, with Don Donlan reminding me in my impatience that he has always said it would take four years to raise the sum. Christine and I have been chipping in our regular contributions and were surprised to see the total amount we’ve given over the year in this relatively painless way. Can we do the same again this year? God willing – Yes, we can! As the Financial Year End approaches perhaps it is time to consider giving again, or for the first time.

Today we are releasing the first of a limited number of actual organ pipes for sale. These are pipes that are not joining their fellows in the restored organ. They come at a range of prices and will be a souvenir and reminder of this massive project.

The Organ Project Committee, chaired by Carol Sim, continues to manage the project as a whole, working closely with our colleagues, and now good friends, in Durham at Harrison & Harrison. All is on track for the organ to return to Australia about mid-July and be handed back into our care mid-November.


Cathedral Conservation

Some of you will remember that at this meeting four years ago we received a presentation from Heritage Architect Liz Vines. In presenting her report on the state of the Cathedral as a heritage building she did so with some scary figures. In the intervening years, and especially over the last eighteen months, the Cathedral Conservation Committee, chaired by Janny Spilsbury Schakel, and with the professional help of Cathedral Architect Andrew Klenke, has made significant inroads into planning and execution of some of the work required. The Pennington Terrace Access will be formally handed over to us this week and we will bless the new roadway by including it in the Palm Sunday procession to the Cathedral. Those of you who have found the fencing between the car park and front entrance such a hassle will be pleased to be able to use the new wheelchair ramp as of next Sunday. By spending about $170,000 on this project, money that has come from the Memorial Garden Fund and recent bequests, we have not only saved nearly half a million dollars in new ladders and roof access, but also the ever increasing annual safety compliance costs.

Almost as soon as the Access is completed a large crane will move in and allow the guttering and downpipes to be properly cleaned and inspected. This will be followed after Easter by the erection of scaffolding as work on Stage 1 of the roof begins, working from the top of the Lantern Tower downwards. A shipment of Welsh slate is due to arrive in the next few days. Much to our relief the Motion moved at last year’s Synod was passed and a few weeks’ ago Diocesan Council agreed to fund the full cost of Stage 1, minus any contribution from Adelaide City Council and other funding that might be found. We do not intend to appeal to the Cathedral community for funding for this work – though, of course, we will not turn down offers.


Cathedral Congregations

Any church is only as good as the people who are the living breathing stones of Christ. Many people have commented on the increasingly multi-cultural nature of St Peter’s Cathedral, and the wide spread of ages represented. The 10.30 Choral Eucharist particularly has shown signs of growth, and not even the endless traffic restrictions caused by this wonderful city’s predilection for festivals and sporting events, prevents people from making the effort to get here on Sunday morning.

Some years ago I set as a goal to have an education programme offered at the Cathedral that would engage a wide range of people – offering something for the beginners on the Christian journey, and continuing to offer a healthy and rich diet as people grow in the faith. It is pleasing to see the very wide range of education opportunities offered to Cathedral people – and many from outside of our immediate circles. Acts chapter 2 verse 42 reminds us of the essentials of a healthy church – teaching and ongoing learning, fellowship as people spend time together, the breaking of bread and sharing in the sacraments, and prayer – that oh so vital ingredient of Christian living. It’s a busy place, this Cathedral of ours, ably supported by the staff – clergy, administration and music.

If I may offer one tip it would be to those who struggle to slow down, to rest in God’s presence. Exploring the Ten Commandments in one of our study groups this sentence was read: “The Sabbath … is not a day of inactivity, but a day when work is not done so that rest may be done.” (Patricia Bays) Food for thought there.



Less than a year ago the Cathedral was the first church in the Diocese to see and hear our new Archbishop, and to welcome him and Lyn to Adelaide. Since then he has slowly but surely worked his way into the Diocese and the Cathedral. The recent Sunday evening Lent series is one such example and demonstrates a man of great humility and holiness, with a firm grasp of Scripture and the task of encouraging us all to discipleship and growth. Over the past few months a five-year vision for the Diocese has been worked on, soon to be released far and wide. It is likely to include the idea that we will be a Diocese of flourishing Anglican communities, united and connected, whose members are confident and competent to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit. I look forward to encouraging St Peter’s Cathedral to play a central role in this vision as, together, we journey on in the footsteps of our Lord.


Imagining the Future

In June 2019 it will be exactly 150 years since Bishop Augustus Short laid the foundation stone of this building. Like a marriage, it has stood through good times and ill, sickness and health, richer and poorer. Under the banner mYour Cathedral we will spend much of next year celebrating the past and, perhaps more importantly, imagining the future. That St Peter’s Cathedral has a future I have no doubt whatsoever.

Thinking and planning for Cathedral 150 continues. While we will take a break in 2019 from building works, a number of celebratory events are already in place on the calendar. Among these will be a world record bell-ringing attempt on Saturday 29 June, exactly 150 years since the foundation stone was laid; a formal opening recital on the Cathedral Organ by leading British and international organist Thomas Trotter; and a Festival of Flowers in spring.

mYour Cathedral – Since 1869 – Imagine the Future!
Let us pray:

For what has been: Thanks be to God
For what is: Thanks be to God.
For what will be: Thanks be to God.


The Very Reverend Frank Nelson
Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide
18th March 2018