Saturday 4th May 2024

Term One comes to an end with my formal installation and our Anzac Service.

Principal Neil Garry (centre) with the College's four Chaplains.
Principal Neil Garry (centre) with the College's four Chaplains.

Thanks and apologies for all those parents of our junior boys who had to wash and iron formal uniforms not once but twice for the last week of term! We had two formal services this week - my installation and our Anzac Service. It was a poignant contrast - to celebrate being called and accepting my role serving our John McGlashan community on Wednesday, to then reflect on the sacrifice of so many old boys who served our country on the Friday morning. 

An installation service marks the permanent placing of me in my role to serve our college and community. It was particularly special to have the previous three Chaplain's take part in this occasion: Rev Roly Scot (the schools first permanent employed Chaplain), Rev Barry Kelk and Rev Dr Andrew Nicol. I am hugely grateful to these three men for the legacy they leave, the example they have set, and most importantly all their wisdom they have and continue to gladly share with me! We were also very grateful to have Rev Dr Murray Rae attend in his role as Moderator of Synod. The Otago and Southland Presbyterian Synod have and continue to support our Chaplaincy - a positive relationship we greatly appreciate and I look forward to taking up Murray's offer of "the right hand of fellowship".

On seeing the photo included above a relative of mine was somewhat surprised, never having "seen me all formal and fancy before" or words to that effect. The ceremonial part of my role is definitely one that takes some conscious thought on my part - I must confess that when I first met my wife I am uncertain if I even owned trousers without holes in the knees. However, there were several aspects that were especially significant to me on this occasion.  

Rev Kelk began our service with an application of 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 to the McGlashan Community:

'We have the joy of using our gifts as members of the whanau we call John McGlashan College which is part of God’s body continuing his ministry in the world today. Those who are chosen for the office of Chaplain are asked to seek the fruit of God’s Word in people’s lives, to care for God’s people and encourage them in the Faith, and to exercise spiritual oversight and leadership within the special character of the college.'

As I shared later I told a few stories of unlikely people who I have learned from and been blessed by over the years. I reaffirmed what I have mentioned previously in Chapel - that I believe God has brought each student to our school intentionally. That each person in our community is there for a reason and important for us all. That an important part of my role is caring for and helping the other staff lead and guide us into becoming a community where each person's unique gifts are able to flourish. Where we are all able to learn from and benefit from the many unique talented individuals who make up our community.

I see my role as a role of service to the McGlashan community. So beautifully represented in the passing on of the McGlashan Stole (the red scarf like garment around my neck in the image above). This represents the towel Jesus hung over his shoulder to wash the disciples feet. A complete inversion of leadership and service which astounded and unsettled his disciples greatly. A constant reminder to me of my commitment to the staff, students and wider John McGlashan community. 

As I said to the students and staff on the day, thank you all for the very warm welcome I have received. Every smile, wave or cheery hello is greatly appreciated. Please do feel free to stop and chat or get in touch at any stage - I really do consider it a pleasure.